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Two charged after reports of shooting at 8th Ward playground

Washington police arrested two men from Ohio Wednesday night on gun charges after receiving reports of a shooting at the city’s 8th Ward playground in the city’s West End.

Tyler Shrieve, 20, of Bloomingdale, and T’kai Jett, 18, of Toronto, each face a felony charge of carrying a firearm without a license.

According to the criminal complaint, officers were called to the playground on Baird Avenue at about 8 p.m. Wednesday after someone reported hearing gunshots, and then to Washington Hospital when a gunshot victim arrived at the emergency room.

Officers found multiple spent shell casings and a blood trail on the ground in the playground area, according to the complaint.

Police identified Zackary Harmon, 22, of Washington, as the shooting victim. He is expected to survive, police said.

Shrieve and Jett were taken into custody as persons of interest in connection with the shooting. As of Thursday’s deadline, the pair had only been charged with carrying a firearm without a license.

According to the complaint, police stopped the vehicle Shrieve was driving on Church Street. Police said two handguns were found in the vehicle. Neither Shrieve nor Jett are permitted to possess a handgun, as they are under 21.

Washington police continue to investigate and ask that anyone with information call 724-223-4226.

Shrieve and Jett were arraigned Thursday morning before District Judge Kelly Stewart, who sent both to the Washington County jail on $50,000 bond. Preliminary hearings are scheduled for 2 p.m. May 31.

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Farmers Market season begins

The band played on, and Cordy, Ada Jean and Eliza Brumley enjoyed a cool treat from Wu’s Shaved Ice. For the sisters, who attended the first Main Street Farmers Market of the season with their parents Kim and Scott Brumley, baby sister Peggy, and grandmother Sharon Karnes, Thursday marked the start of a favorite summer tradition. The Community Pavilion on South Main Street in Washington’s downtown was abuzz of activity as people browsed vendors, grabbed a late lunch or an after-dinner treat, and strolled the market to the tune of live music. The Main Street Farmers Market runs from 3 to 6 p.m. every Thursday at the Main Street Pavilion through October.

Washington County awards largest contract thus far for broadband expansion

The Washington County commissioners during their Thursday meeting approved the single-largest allocation for broadband expansion since the program began early last year, which will bring high-speed internet to nearly 2,200 new customers in the county.

The commissioners approved two separate bids totaling nearly $12.8 million that will bring broadband to 1,475 underserved and unserved locations in the Bentworth area between Interstate 70 and Route 40 and around Beallsville and Deemston, along with another 695 new customers in rural sections of South Strabane and Amwell townships.

John Timney, executive director of Washington County Authority that has been handling the broadband expansion initiative since its inception in early 2022, announced the most recent project, which he said is the largest to date. He added the overall program has now awarded, constructed or completed broadband extensions to about 4,500 new customers who didn’t have access to high-speed internet.

“As you can see, we’re progressing,” Timney told the commissioners before they voted unanimously on the project.

Out of the $12.8 million awarded in the two contracts, the county will pay about $6.75 million of the cost using federal American Rescue Plan stimulus money, with the vendors paying the remaining total. Verizon was approved for the $3.67 million plan to run 87 miles of fiber wiring in South Strabane and Amwell in the area straddling Route 40 just south of Eighty Four and east of I-79. Comcast was contracted for $9.09 million to install 126 miles of fiber in portions of North Bethlehem, West Bethlehem, Somerset and West Pike Run townships, and Beallsville and Deemston boroughs.

“I am excited about the opportunities that this project will bring to our community,” North Bethlehem Township Supervisor James Dudt said. “Access to high-speed internet is essential for economic growth, education, and health care, and I am grateful for the investment that Washington County and our partners are making to ensure that every resident has access to these critical resources.”

So far, Washington County has awarded $32 million worth of contracts, with the county picking up about half of the cost with the help of federal pandemic relief money. Other projects have been located in rural portions of northern and western Washington County, along with other areas in the National Pike corridor. The next targets for expansion are parts of East Finley and Donegal townships, and areas around Ten Mile Creek.

“Our team is thrilled to be managing this program and to be working with our partners to bring broadband access to previously unserved areas,” Timney said. “We believe that this program will have a significant impact on the community and are committed to ensuring that it is completed successfully and on-time and on-budget.”

In addition to Verizon and Comcast, other internet providers that have been contracted for previous projects in the county include Hickory Telephone, DQE Communications and Kinetic by Windstream.

“The broadband initiative for the unserved is a critical initiative that will help spur economic growth, improve access to education and health care, and enhance the overall quality of life for our residents,” Commissioner Chairwoman Diana Irey Vaughan said in a written message. “We are grateful for the support of our partners in this project and are excited about the progress we have made so far.”