By MELINDA KRICK

Progress Editor

Part 1 of 2

Farewell, 2017.

It has been a challenging year for many in Paulding County. Unusual weather, fatal accidents, homicide cases and a manhunt that drew international attention captured residents’ interest.

We also grieved for the sudden loss of a couple beloved community leaders.

The year had its share of bright spots, with important new projects breaking ground, several projects celebrating completion, recognizing WWII veterans, a successful county fair and community festivals, notable achievements by students and athletes, and a coordinated project to strategically plan for the county’s future.

Here’s a recap of the news stories as reported by the Progress:

JANUARY

Paulding County commissioners approve General Fund appropriations for the new year totaling $6.1 million, up nearly 10 percent from 2016.

A Cecil man is sentenced to six years in prison for drug-related charges, including engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

The Ann Sherry Foundation awards a grant to the county’s libraries to incorporate “Maker & Creative Spaces” and also to enhance book clubs and reading events.

Wayne Trace varsity player Ethan Linder breaks a school record by scoring 40 points in a game.

FEBRUARY

Faith Meraz, from Wayne Trace Jr. High, wins her second county Spelling Bee title.

Paulding-Putnam Electric Cooperative unveils its new community solar array, built next to Alex Products in Paulding.

Isabel Reinhart, former co-owner of the Progress, passes away at age 95.

Wayne Trace wrestler Ruger Goeltzenleuchter records his 150th career win.

A grand opening celebration is held for the new Bargain Bin facility.

A stabbing incident in Broughton appears to be self-inflicted, according to the sheriff.

The old Paulding Theater sign is removed by the Paulding Chamber in hopes of having it restored and displayed.

The Progress wins six awards from the Ohio News Media Association, including first place for a sports photograph and second place for Visions.

A local organization called Nips and Snips of Paulding County Ohio Inc. is formed to offer low-cost spay/neuter services.

Wayne Trace’s Ethan Linder reaches 2,000 career points, the first ever in the six-county area of northwest Ohio.

Daniel Zerbe Sr., 44, pleads not guilty to the charge of murdering Wilma Schwartz, who was found dead from a single gunshot to the head in March of 2016 at a vacant home on Road 1 in Antwerp, just inside the state line.

A Continental woman is seriously injured in a one-vehicle crash southeast of Oakwood.

Paulding County EMA seeks grants for a first responder training facility.

MARCH

Michael Wehrkamp takes office as judge of the Paulding County Probate/Juvenile Court.

Congressman Bob Latta presents local veteran Orval Mullen with medals earned serving in WWII.

Wayne Trace senior Ruger Goeltzenleuchter finishes second in Div. III wrestling tournament and moves on to the state tournament in Columbus.

Students and staff at Paulding schools have a shoe party to benefit Sole Hope, and organization that provides shoes and medical relief for Ugandan children.

The Ohio Ethics Commission clears Paulding Mayor Greg Reinhart from any unethical behavior due to lack of evidence regarding the 2016 firing of a Paulding police officer.

Wayne Trace’s Danae Myers is named Paulding County Progress 2017 Girls Basketball Player of the Year.

Faith Meraz, a seventh grader at Wayne Trace, tied for third place with two other spellers in the 63rd Annual Journal Gazette Regional Spelling Bee in Fort Wayne.

Wayne Trace’s Ethan Linder is named Progress 2017 Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

Paulding High School’s Engineering Team wins first place for the second year in a row at T.E.A.M. competition at Ohio Northern.

The Paulding County Senior Center holds a rededication ceremony unveiling recent remodeling.

10 new jail correctional officers are sworn in at the reopened Paulding County Jail.

Paulding junior Cade McGarvey qualifies for the International Science Fair to be held in Los Angeles in May.

Four people are injured, one seriously, in a crash on US 24 in northeastern Emerald Township.

Ethan Linder is named the Associated Press All-Ohio Division III Co-Player of the Year.

APRIL

A vehicle crashes into the east side of Rite Aid in Paulding. The cage surrounding propane tanks protected the tanks from impact. No injuries or serious damage are reported.

Paulding Village Council accepts the resignation of village solicitor Mike Jones, who has served since 2006.

The team from Divine Mercy school wins the 2017 Battle of the Books Competition.

The yearbook staff from Antwerp High School attends the Ohio Scholastic Media Association spring convention and receives eight awards for yearbook spread design and photography.

Wayne Trace’s Ruger Goeltzenleuchter is named Progress 2017 Wrestler of the Year.

The 39th annual 24-Hour Basketball Marathon for charity prepares for tip-off.

Paulding High School’s Estee Miller is named first runner-up and Wayne Trace High School’s Brooke Lelonek is named second runner-up in the annual Peony Pageant.

A three-vehicle crash at the intersection of US 127 and Gasser Road ends in the Rite Aid parking lot.

Paulding County Hospital announces plans to build a regional health center north of the U.S. 24 and Ohio 49 interchange in Antwerp.

Oakwood Police Chief Mark Figert retires after 30 years of service.

Full-time security is implemented by the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office at the Paulding County Annex building.

Ohio Facilities Construction Commission has awarded a $30,000 matching funds grant to the John Paulding Historical Society. The money will go towards an expansion of Barn One.

Attorneys for Daniel Zerbe Sr. file a motion to dismiss his murder charge in Paulding County Common Pleas Court, claiming the court lacks jurisdiction in the case.

A storm causes damage in scattered areas of Paulding County.

The new Greenway Park tennis court is dedicated in Antwerp.

MAY

A hearing date of May 16 has been set in Bradley Gillespie’s appeal of his 2016 double-murder trial and sentencing.

Paulding County Drug Court has its first graduate.

Dr. Wendell Spangler (Class of 1992), Richard Rosalez (Class of 1994) and Jeffery Webb (Class of 1997) are named to the Paulding High School Academic Hall of Fame.

The county deals with 3.5 inches of rain that fell in a three-day period.

Paulding High School and Hicksville High School participate in the inaugural Dominion Trials.

Antwerp High School is ranked 85th in the state by U.S. News and World Report.

Emmanuel Baptist Church in Paulding will host “Painting the Town Red” event to help generate pride in the community.

The case against Lisa G. King, who had been indicted in 2016 on two counts of tampering with evidence, is dismissed with prejudice. It was alleged she twice moved the body of Wilma Schwartz in an attempt to hamper a homicide investigation.

Friends Cindy Kauser and Rena Rager, and husband and wife Kate and Dave Densmore will lead the Survivor’s Lap at the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life.

The Antwerp softball team celebrates its first sectional crown since 2012. They won in an 8-0 victory over Green Meadows Conference foe Holgate.

Paulding County was hit with a series of storms that caused power outages, road closures, downed trees and scattered damage and the destruction of two barns. Damage was due to 80-85 mph straight-line winds.

Amy Hammer is named the new Antwerp Elementary principal, replacing Tim Manz, who is approved as the district’s new director of curriculum and technology integration innovation.

Paulding High School senior James Morey is named the Progress Baseball Player of the Year.

Heavy rains and flooding from recent storms impact several Paulding County communities.

Paulding County Sheriff’s Office holds an open house for the reopened county jail.? Antwerp’s Carli Hanes is named Progress Softball Player of the Year.

JUNE

Wayne Trace’s Monique Goings picks up a pair of second place finishes, Seth Saylor a fourth place finish and Josh Kuhn, a seventh place finish at the state track meet in Columbus.

Paulding Exempted Village Schools hires Ken Amstutz as the new superintendent. He replaces Bill Hanak, who resigned to take a position in another school district.

The 4-H horse barn renovation and expansion is completed in time for the fair.

Blake Muller and Estee Miller are named Paulding County Fair king and queen.

Dairy Queen in Paulding is the target of an armed robbery.

A semi crashes into a home at the intersection of US 127 and Ohio 114. There was no one in the home at the time of the accident. No one is injured.

Paulding FFA launches a community garden.

Shannon Ruschel is named the director of the Paulding Chamber of Commerce.

A two-vehicle accident on Ohio 49 claims the life of an Antwerp resident.

Next week: A continued look at the highlights of 2017.