They jumped out of airplanes, remained a child at heart, went by the name of “gingerbread man” and waged a port-a-potty war.
They were the best of roses and the worst of thorns for 2016:
BEST OF ROSES
No. 10.: To Bonnie Marie Bouquin, of Columbus Grove, and Robert Blake, of Jackson Township, Allen County. Bonnie turned 104 this year. She grew up being called a “firecracker” because she was born on July 5, 1912 — one day after the Fourth of July. Blake, born Aug. 25, 1913, still loves to read and can finish a 2- to 3-inch thick book in several days.
No. 9: To Elida native Justin Blewitt, who won a gold medal in eight-way formation skydiving at the 2016 World Parachuting Championships in Chicago. More than 700 skydivers from 38 countries competed.
No. 8: To Carl Westrick, 80, of Ottawa. He takes takes a trash bag with him on his daily walk and ends up picking up the mess left by others. “I don’t understand it. I just don’t understand,” Westrick said. “What’s so hard about picking up your own trash? Don’t people have any pride?”
No. 7: To Terry Watson, aka “the Little Caesar’s Pizza dancer with the thousand-watt smile.” Watson passed Lima Police Chief Kevin Martin as the most famous dancer in Lima when he was chosen out of hundreds of applicants to dance in a Little Caesar’s competition in Las Vegas. He ended up placing second.
No. 6: To Rick Thompson, the luckiest man in Allen County. A large tree that was knocked down by the wind miraculously missed falling on his Yokum Road home, his classic Corvette and two other cars in his driveway, not to mention his neighbor’s house.
No.5: To Brenda Harnisfager, of Waynesfield. The 60-year-old grandmother said she made “un-Christian comments” about the Auglaize Township trustees following the March election. So, she not only wrote to the newspaper’s “Your View” column to apologize but also did so at an Auglaize Township trustee meeting. What did Harnisfager say that was so bad? Brace yourself. It concerned a tax levy. She said, “I’ve learned to do with what I have, and they need to learn to do with what they have. We’d rather take care of ourselves.”
No. 4: The “gingerbread man” — Donald “Chip” Pugh, 45, of Lima — was a folk hero for part of the year, making folks snicker when he taunted police officers to “catch me if you can,” even going as far as sending them a better picture of himself than police officials had in their files. The Lima Police Department got the last laugh when the gingerbread man was caught in Florida.
No. 3: When Robert Gibson, 71, of rural Wapakoneta, began looking for a 1965 Chevrolet Supersport convertible, his wife told him he was living a second childhood. “I told her she was wrong,” Gibson said. “I am still living my first one.”
No. 2: Honesty was never in question for Viarious Frazier, of Lima, and Frank and Karen Doll, of Ottawa. Frazier, a student at Unity Elementary School, noticed a mom dropped a $100 bill when she was leaving his classroom. The student scooped the money up and gave it to his teacher. When another student asked why he didn’t pocket the cash, Viarious answered, “because it wasn’t mine.” The Dolls were returning from a store in Ottawa when Frank spotted a bank bag on East Main Street. They turned over the bag — containing $1,790 — to Putnam County Sheriff Deputy Greg Westrick, who tracked the money back to the Miller City baseball team, which raised the cash so it could play a game on Fifth Third Field in Toledo.
No. 1 rose: To Bob and Denny Fricke. They taught us all something about compassion after their mother, Doris, was struck and killed by a vehicle on Thanksgiving night. The Frickes visited the driver of the vehicle “to let him know there was nothing he could have done; it was dark.” They said they were just thankful for the Thanksgiving meal their family enjoyed with their mother earlier that day.
WORST OF THORNS
No. 10: The “Dumb Crook of the Year Award” was well earned by Arthur Banks, 69, of Lima for his robbery of Planet Health. Banks put his mask on after he entered the store then drove off in a green Lexus with a bungee cord holding the trunk shut.
No. 9: To Yolanda Ellison, of rural Wapakoneta. She was cited for the third time for letting her horse run at large. This latest incident saw the animal being killed when it was struck by a car.
No. 8: Oops! Not only did Summer Miller, of Lima, drive through an intersection without yielding, but she slammed her vehicle into an Ada police car, knocking it on its side.
No. 7: Right idea, wrong lever. An employee of the Putnam County YMCA thought he was shutting off Ottawa Memorial Pool’s mushroom sprinkler before he called it a night on June 18. Instead, he flipped a lever that drained the pool of 300,000 gallons of water overnight. The pool was closed Father’s Day so it could be refilled.
No. 6: To Robert Torres, 53, of Ottawa. He had his 12th appearance in court on a drunken-driving charge, this time getting sentenced to 30 months in prison.
No. 5: August was a stinky month for some. A malfunction at a Delphos lift station caused raw sewage to flow directly into the Auglaize River. The result was a huge fish kill downstream that left the village of Fort Jennings smelling like rotting fish. Meanwhile in Lima, park rangers and maintenance crews had to spend a substantial amount of time cleaning up goose droppings as flocks with as many as 150 geese descended on the city parks, bike trails and ballfields.
No. 4: To Jeremy Sharp, of Lima. When asked how he would repay the nearly $16,000 he owed for welfare fraud, Sharp thought about for a minute, then told Judge David Cheney he would use the money he was getting from Social Security disability payments.
No. 3: To the Wapakoneta football fans who waved Confederate flags and allegedly taunted racial slurs during the school’s playoff game against Trotwood Madison. The group gave the entire school and community a bad name.
No. 2: To Carolyn Gross and Marc Crowder, of Lima. The ongoing feud between the two neighbors saw Gross stick a port-a-potty in her backyard, less than 20 feet from Crowder’s dining room window. Crowder retaliated by getting his own port-a-potty and placing it in his front yard with the door facing Gross’ front porch.
No 1 thorn: To former Lima police officer Justin Bentz, who had sex with a 16-year-old girl just hours after taking a class that informed him it was against the law for a peace officer to have sex with an underage girl.