The following stories were the top ten most read pieces from The Athens Messenger website from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, 2021.

1. Kyle Bridgeman found

The body of missing Nelsonville resident Kyle Bridgeman was found on Nov. 10 according to the Nelsonville CrackHeads Facebook page. The page is run in part by the deceased’s uncle.

His body was found in Wayne National Forest over five months after he initially went missing.

2. After discovery of Kyle Bridgeman’s body, investigation remains far from over

With Kyle Bridgeman’s body found, the case has shifted from one of a missing person to a possible homicide. The answer as to how he died and ended up in the forest is still unknown.

A press release from Athens County Sheriff’s Office and the Athens County Prosecutors Office stated that new information received through the investigation led to the discovery of the remains.

Two individuals, Lindsay Woolever (Coon) and PJ Coon have been linked to the case. Woolever is facing multiple charges stemming from her connection to a drug trafficking ring. Court documents stated that she provided a .9-millimeter firearm to Coons, the last person to see Bridgeman before he disappeared.

No charges had been filed against Coons at the time but Woolever was charged with engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, unlawful transaction in weapons and having weapons while under disability.

3. Old Chauncey school buildings under renovation to host brewery, restaurant, other businesses

The former Chauncey school buildings on Mound Street will be the new home of a brewery and restaurant designed to serve members of the community and tourists visiting the Baileys Trail System. Both will be child-friendly and operate out of the old school gym.

The brewery will be lead by Brooke and Austin McDonough with Hocking College Chef instructor Angie Straw heading up the restaurant.

The couple plans to maintain as much of the structures as possible in order to preserve local history. They plan to meet in the future with the Southeast Ohio History Center to see how the history can further be incorporated into the business.

The project is expected to take about two years to complete.

4. Nelsonville PD hires officer who shot and killed city resident

Cecil Morrison, former Hocking College officer implicated in the shooting death of Nelsonville resident Michael Whitmer in late July has been hired on to the force at the Nelsonville Police Department.

Morrison started with NPD on Oct. 12 and is currently on active duty. He had previously been placed on administrative duties by Hocking College in September.

Nelsonville Police Chief Scott Fitch stated that the hire was done just like any other, stating that Morrison was the most qualified applicant among other praises.

An investigation into the shooting is still being conducted and is under review by Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn. According to Fitch, after v=reviewing the footage, he believed no crime was violated and offered Morrison the job.

Chelsea Whitmer, the wife of the deceased, stated that she is uncomfortable with the hire and that she doesn’t feel safe knowing if she calls the local police, he could be the officer to respond.

5. Tenants must move to make way for Nelsonville park

A new park coming to Nelsonville is causing a headache for some residents who will have to vacate their current residents to make way for construction.

All the residents at the apartment complex pay their rent with federal vouchers, a system that makes it difficult to find alternative housing. Not many renters accept these vouchers. Prokos Rentals previously accepted them but county housing authorities stopped this practice saying the company’s business practices were incompatible with HUD requirements.

The landlord, John Hartley, requested that the buyer, Stuart Brooks of the Rocky Boots family, allow ample time for residents to find alternative housing. Hartley has been left out of the loop regarding the specifics of tenants transition.

6. Unofficial Athens County 2021 General Election results

Posted on election night, election results were tentative and unofficial at the time. They were posted at the Athens County Board of Elections Office around 9:30 p.m. on Nov. 2.

7. As county prosecutor assesses police killing of Nelsonville resident, advocacy groups respond

Representatives from the National Police Accountability Project, a nonprofit project dedicated to ending abuse of authority by law enforcement, and the National Association of Police Organizations, a coalition of police unions, responded to the investigation into former Hocking College Police officer Cecil Morrison in the shooting death of Michael Whitmer.

The NPAP believes that Morrison’s conduct was an inappropriate use of force, saying that shooting into a fleeing vehicle has a precedent of being considered excessive force in multiple court cases.

In contrast, the NAPO stated that not enough information was available to come to a conclusion, stating that giving a response would not be responsible given the gravity of the situation. Information that would still be needed, according to NAPO’s Executive Director Bill Johnson would include other recordings that could exist, what officers knew about the situation and what they were told, and what happened during the entire encounter among other information.

8. Tri-County student hospitalized after in-class accident, fundraiser supports family

A student at Tri-County Career Center fell from a 40-foot tall pole during a power line class on Nov. 12 and was taken to the hospital.

According to the student’s uncle, he had undergone two surgeries and was recovering well. His mother also reported that he was doing great following the accident.

The student is studying to become an electrician at the school and his mother stated that he can’t wait to get back to class.

A fundraiser was set up for the family in order to help pay medical costs.

9. ‘Boorito’ mayhem: Athens Chipotle employees say promo chaos points to broader issues

An ill-fated promotion by Chipotle which offered discounts and free food on Halloween caused numerous issues at the Athens restaurant.

Due to technical issues with their app, the store lost about 200 orders leading to workers falling behind nearly two hours.

An employee stated that about 50 people were in the restaurant from 5 p.m. until after midnight with the line snaking out the door. The app didn’t have an order limit either, resulting in 40 to 50 orders being placed every ten minute period.

Under staffing at the location also made the evening difficult according to employee Kari Johnson. Another employee expressed frustration over the safety protocol regarding COVID-19, saying that having that many people in the restaurant couldn’t have been safe.

10. Single mom faces eviction due to conflict between Housing Authority and Prokos Rentals

Prokos Rentals will no longer be able to accept housing vouchers after the Athens metropolitan Housing Authority ended its relationship with the company over their business practices. The decision was made in Oct. 2020, causing headache for residents now on the hunt for new housing.

Nelsonville resident Aimee Gallagher has mixed feelings about Prokos Rentals, describing them as “slumlords” but also remaining thankful that they accepted her federal housing vouchers at a time when other landlords were unwilling.

Gallagher was one of 60 residents that were paying with vouchers at Prokos properties. With housing prices in the area high it tends to be too expensive to use the vouchers which are based on fair market value. Housing outside the city is less expensive but as most people work within the city, this causes its own challenge.

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