Last updated: August 25. 2013 9:10AM - 104 Views

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BLUFFTON — College students walking back to campus drunk after hitting the bars is a regular scene in Bluffton, but a resident has had enough after being assaulted earlier this month.Rick and Annette Weyer said the problem has existed for the 20 years they’ve owned a house on North Lawn Avenue. It came to a head early March 1, when a Bluffton University student assaulted Rick Weyer.“I’d like to see them just walk by,” Rick Weyer said. “I don’t care if they’re drunk. I just want them to leave my property alone.” Annette Weyer said, “I just want them to be quiet.”The Weyers live on a stretch of road that students walk between Luke’s Bar and Grill and campus. For years, they’ve struggled to deal with drunk students being rowdy as they leave the bar and return to their dorms. It’s worse on Wednesday nights when the bar offers “college night” specials. He said students have urinated in car gas tanks, placed objects under tires and other vandalism. He’s put a picket fence around the yard to keep students out and put up signs suggesting a willingness to use a gun to protect the house.The problems were so common, the Weyers say, they quit calling police. So, a little after midnight the morning of March 1, Rick Weyer went outside to investigate when he saw someone on his hands and knees in front of Rick Weyer’s car.That man, who was later identified as Bluffton senior Mychal Hill, ran off. But Hill’s two companions walked up to Rick Weyer.“I was going to come back into the house because it was all over,” Rick Weyer said. “Mychal Hill just sucker punched me from the left hand side.” He lost a tooth and needed some expensive dental work after that, he said.Hill, who is listed on the university’s website as a 6-foot-1 senior guard on the basketball team, from London, Ohio, faces misdemeanor assault charges in Lima Municipal Court. Bluffton Police Chief Rick Skilliter confirmed the details of Rick Weyer’s story. Skilliter said this is the worst reported problem related to drunk students. “This is the first physical assault or violence that we’ve had. All the other things that we’ve had are property related,” he said. “There’s been minor disruptions, property damage along the way.”Skilliter said the bar manages its crowd well, but problems come as the students return home. Many residents have called in complaints, but Skilliter said the Weyers contact them the most.“He’s very vigilant and aware of what’s happening in the neighborhood,” Skilliter said. The Weyers said they also tried talking with Bluffton Dean of Students Eric Fulcomer in the past, although they haven’t spoken for about six years, they said. “We just give up talking to him because nothing ever came of anything,” Rick Weyer said.Fulcomer, who was elected mayor of Bluffton last November, said the university and the village are concerned about problems with students off campus. He called the assault a terrible, isolated incident.Fulcomer said he’s open to any suggestions Weyer has to cut down on the problems.“If there was a way that we could help minimize his concern, we’d be willing to look into it,” he said.The Weyers feel they won’t get help from the village. They point out that Fulcomer, the university dean of students, is also the village mayor, and several university employees are on village council.“They get all kinds of privileges,” Rick Weyer said. Fulcomer said concerns about conflict of interest are one reason he submitted his resignation to the university the week after he was elected mayor. For continuity, he is working out the rest of the school year. Bluffton Director of Public Relations Robin Bowlus said the university is concerned. She cited the student handbook, which says poor off-campus conduct can result in expulsion. She wouldn’t talk specifically about Hill’s case.“In general, when students are involved in off-campus situations that involve law enforcement, the dean of students will get involved with the student and have a meeting with them to talk about the situation and consequences of their actions,” she said. “The dean of students does have ability to determine appropriate courses of action.”Rick Weyer believes Bluffton Police need to step up their efforts to solve the problem.“If you don’t make an example of somebody, you’re going to have continuous problems with them,” he said. “The more they get away with, the bolder they get. It seems like there’s just not an end to it.” You can comment on this story at LimaOhio.com.



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