Controversy swirled around Franklin Twp. in 2017, with some incidents receiving regional and national attention.
The controversy around the removal of a township-owned Confederate marker over the summer raised the ire of residents after the city of Franklin removed it from the right of way along South Dixie Highway.
Residents packed the meeting rooms of Franklin City Council and Franklin Twp. demanding the five-ton, 90-year-old marker be returned. Township officials are working to put the marker back on display but at a different site.
More controversy arose over a volunteer firefighter’s racially charged social media post. The presidents of the Middletown and Dayton NAACP branches demanded the firefighter’s termination. However, the firefighter resigned his volunteer position.
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Residents soundly rejected another proposed tax levy to increase revenues for the Franklin Twp. Fire Department. In a separate issue, township Fire Chief Steve Bishop and Assistant Fire Chief John Daly both retired. It was later reported that neither chief held a current volunteer firefighter certification from the state for the past several years.
Two new trustees were elected in the November elections. One of them, Shane Centers, is the son of Franklin mayor Denny Centers and the brother of Franklin City Councilman Brent Centers.
Removal of Confederate marker stirs controversy
A 90-year-old marker honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and the Dixie Highway became controversial in August following the violence in Charlottesville, Va.
The controversy started when the city of Franklin removed the marker from the corner of South Dixie Highway and Hamilton-Middletown Road. City officials said the monument was removed because it was within the right of way of Dixie Highway. The monument was one of many erected around the nation by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
The removal of the five-ton stone marker prompted public outcry, and a large number of residents insisted that it be returned to its original location, or that residents at least be allowed to vote on the matter. City crews damaged the bronze plaque on the marker during the removal, and the city had the plaque repaired and cleaned before returning it to Franklin Twp. Negotiations are in progress to have the marker returned for public view, according to township officials.
Firefighter resigns after posting racial slur on social media account
A Franklin Twp. volunteer firefighter who posted a racially charged comment on social media resigned in September.
Tyler Roysdon, 20, submitted his resignation as a volunteer firefighter on Sept. 25, according to township officials. He had been suspended indefinitely by Bishop on Sept. 12 after learning of the racially charged comment, which had been posted to Facebook. Roysdon resigned before a scheduled disciplinary hearing on Sept. 27.
Roysdon, indicated in the post that if he had to choose between saving a dog or a black man from a burning building, he would save the dog first because “one dog is more important than a million” and then used a racial slur.
Franklin Twp. teen sentenced in non-fatal shooting of stepfather
A Franklin Twp. teen was sentenced to both juvenile and adult sanctions for shooting his stepfather while he slept at their home in the 3700 block of Wilson Farms Boulevard home on May 26.
The 17-year-old received the blended sentence as part of the serious youthful offender statute on Aug. 9 in Warren County Juvenile Court after admitting to the complaint of attempted murder with a firearm, felonious assault, with a firearm specification, and domestic violence. He was 16 at the time of the shooting.
Franklin Twp. fire levy rejected again
Voters in Franklin Twp. rejected another fire levy this year.
The additional, continuing 4.31-mill fire levy was defeated by a vote of 61.6 percent against to 38.4 percent for the levy.
Had the levy passed, it would have cost the owner of a home with $100,000 valuation about $150 a year. The additional revenues would have paid volunteer firefighters to staff the township’s two stations during daytime hours.
Brian Morris, Franklin Twp. trustees president, said it was hard to educate the public about the need for the levy during an election year when two trustees were leaving office in December.
He said there were a lot of distractions in the township which took attention away from educating the public about the need for the levy. Two of the distractions included a volunteer firefighter who made racially charged comments on social media and issues surrounding the lapse in state volunteer firefighter certifications of the former fire chief and assistant fire chief.
In the May 2015 special election, voters overwhelmingly rejected a continuing 14.57-mill levy by a 94 percent to 6 percent margin. Had it passed, the proposed levy would cost $509.95 annually, based on a home valued at $100,000, about a 380 percent increase for the new proposed 24-hour service.
Politics and elections
Also in November, residents voted for two new township trustees.
Shane Centers and Matt Jennings we’re elected to four-year terms on the board of trustees. They will replace Beth Callahan and Ron Ruppert who were stepping down at the end of their current terms. Ruppert was elected to succeed his uncle, Judge Rupert E. Ruppert, as the Franklin Municipal Court judge for the next six years.
Centers is the son of Franklin Mayor Denny Centers and the brother of Franklin City Councilman Brent Centers. Jennings is the brother of interim township Fire Chief Kevin Jennings.