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Columbus, Ohio - A federal appeals court in Ohio has declined to hold a hearing by the full court on overturned hate crimes convictions involving beard- and hair-cutting attacks targeting Amish.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati on Thursday notified prosecutors and attorneys in the case that it has denied the federal government’s request for a hearing before the full court on a three-judge panel’s decision. The panel split 2-1 in August in favor of throwing out the hate crime convictions.
Fillmmore County, Minnesota - An Amish couple from southeastern Minnesota will try next month to settle their zoning law dispute with Fillmore County. Ammon J. and Sarah J. Swartzentruber of Harmony have been cited for failing to get a permit for the home they're building. The couple refused because they say it meant they would have to install a septic system, a modern convenience not permitted by their religious beliefs.
The couple appeared at a hearing Wednesday to answer to three misdemeanor charges. Both have pleaded not guilty.
Salisbury Township, Pennsylvania - Police allege a Philadelphia trucker caused a crash last year in Salisbury Township that killed a young Amish woman.
Levi F. Graham, 52, is charged with vehicular homicide regarding the Nov. 3, 2013, crash on Route 30 near Hoover Road, court documents show.
Barbara King, 21, died a day after the nighttime crash.
Third-world people groups aren’t the only ones that need God’s Word. As Hank and Ruth Hershberger of Wycliffe Bible Translators USA can attest, the Amish need Scripture, too.
Hank says he became aware of this fact while serving the Lord in Australia. The Hershbergers spent a quarter-century in the Land Down Under with Wycliffe USA, translating the New Testament for the Gugu-Yalanji Aboriginal people.
“The Lord seemed to tell me, ‘Your own folks don’t have the Scriptures in their own language.’ And more and more, I was convicted that following our translation work in Australia, we should come home and do a translation in my own language,” he states.
Lancaster, Pennsylvania - Calling the crime a "straight-up fraud," a federal judge Wednesday sentenced a midstate man to 37 months in prison for a $1.65 million investment scam that targeted the Amish and Mennonite communities.
U.S. Middle District Chief Judge Christopher C. Conner imposed that penalty after Christopher Burhans begged for a sentence of house arrest.
Lower Chanceford Township - A fatal crash Monday afternoon in Lower Chanceford Township led to the deaths of four family members, officials with the York County coroner's office announced.
The crash killed Emmanuel Esh, 73, and Melvin Esh, 66, as well as Elizabeth Esh, 22, and her unborn child.
The child was stillborn at York Hospital following the crash. Elizabeth Esh, who had an address listed in the Brogue area, was pronounced dead there at 4:12 a.m. Tuesday, officials said.
Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania - Ironically, the first group convicted for religiously motivated violence under the U.S. Hate Crime Prevention Act was Amish. Or claimed to be.
“This is a sad, sad bizarre story,” Amish scholar Donald Kraybill told hundreds of listeners who gathered Oct. 21 at Elizabethtown College.
“While the ‘good Amish’ in Nickel Mines readily forgave the shooter and his family, the ‘bad Amish’ of Bergholz showered vengeance on their own people,” writes Kraybill in his new book, Renegade Amish.
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania - Police are investigating bizarre incidents reported at Amish homes in eastern Lancaster County.
In at least two cases since late July, a man entered a home and touched young females as they slept. The man spoke to the females, then fled the homes.
Two members of the community said they heard of at least two additional similar incidents that might not have been reported.
Strasburg, Pennsylvania - People in Amish communities do not drive cars. They drive horses and buggies. They do not use electric lights. They use gas lamps and candles.
Even though they live in communities all over the United States, they do not marry outsiders. Along with the Mennonites, Amish Americans have been living a traditional way of life for centuries.
Geauga County, Ohio - A teen who drove the car used to commit organized attacks on the Amish was sentenced Oct. 27 to 8 1/2 years in prison in Geauga County Common Pleas Court.
Chase Kontur, 19, whose last known address was in Middlefield Township, previously admitted helping attack the Amish for money because he thought they were easy targets and would not report the crime.
“I regret what I did,” Kontur said. “I want to get out and get a fresh start and work for a living.”
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania - Nothing says “Lancaster County” in Pennsylvania like the sight and sound of a lathered horse pulling a square, black buggy down the road.
The county undoubtedly has more of the horse-powered vehicles than any other in Pennsylvania, based on population data.
And while that means Lancaster County is the place to go to witness Plain Sect life, it also means emergency responders here have to pick up the pieces from more buggy crashes than any other county in the state.
A lot more.
Lancaster, Pennsylvania - A Pennsylvania man who pleaded guilty in a drive-by shooting that killed a horse pulling a buggy with an Amish family inside in Lancaster County has been sentenced to one to two years behind bars.
Last November, Timothy Diggs Jr. apologized for his behavior and attributed it to cough medicine abuse.
LNP newspapers reports that the 21-year-old from Ronks, Pa. pleaded guilty to cruelty to animals and reckless endangerment and also entered pleas in several unrelated cases.
Lancaster, Pennsylvania - Merlin Miller, the eccentric leader of the Ohio Amish community on TV's “Amish Mafia,” appeared Friday at Lancaster Newspapers’ door in an attempt to collar the governor for a few private words.
Miller is the nemesis of Lebanon Levi, self-proclaimed leader of the local Amish community, on the series.
Gov. Tom Corbett, who was at LNP on Friday for a meeting with the editorial board, signed a petition in August supporting RespectAmish.org, a movement to halt erroneous and damaging portrayals of the Amish community on screen.
Wilmington Township, Pennsylvania - An Amish school in northern Lawrence County was put on lockdown last week when a man behaving in an unusual manner trespassed into the schoolyard.
State police said that a white man parked his truck outside Shepard School’s front gate at about 1 p.m. Oct. 3. The school, along Route 208 in Wilmington Township, is a private Amish education facility.
The man reportedly sat in his truck for more than 15 minutes watching the children playing outside and then walked into the schoolyard and entered an outhouse on the property, where he remained for about 10 minutes.
Algansee Township, Michigan - After two years of meetings, misunderstandings and legal wrangling, the Amish community in Algansee Township have opened a fourth school in the 500 block of Colvin Road.
Monday night the township board approved a special use permit to allow the school to operate on a 4-acre parcel split from Henry Eicher’s property at 588 Colvin Road. It also allowed for a split driveway of 20 instead of 40 feet to the school and reduced required setbacks for existing buildings from 20 to 17 feet following the Sept. 29 recommendation from the board's planning commission.
The St. Lawrence County couple accused of kidnapping two Amish girls and making child pornography were running a child porn operation, exploiting half a dozen children over the course of almost a year, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian.
The U.S. Attorney's office today filed new charges against Stephen Howells and Nicole Vaisey, adding three more victims to the list. The charges detail 15 additional times that the couple or Howells, alone, made child pornography.
New Holstein, Wisconsin - Though it has been decided that selling unpasteurized dairy products in Wisconsin is illegal, advocates for raw milk would like to know what the state's Supreme Court has to say about the public's rights to consume it. A group called Food Freedom USA has reported that petitions for review have been filed with the court in three separate cases involving the legality and constitutionality of farmers that wish to establish contracts with private individuals who want to obtain such products.
Tyre, New York - Ever since they settled in this tiny farm town along the New York State Thruway more than a decade ago, the Amish have been a benign, generally welcome presence: guiding their buggies down local roads, delivering fresh produce to their neighbors and paying their taxes — though they do not vote.
But the possibility that a glittering casino could be built here, halfway between Syracuse and Rochester, has torn at the bonds that knit together the area’s Amish and secular residents.
Cave City, Kentucky - Billy Minton often jokes with the Amish employees at Bi-Rite grocery in Cave City, with whom he's developed a good rapport since he began driving them to and from work about a year ago.
Minton retired as Cave City's police chief about two years ago, but found he was uninterested in staying at home and doing nothing. He then heard about the driving job - which he calls "a blessing" - through the grapevine.
"I had actually started out driving for another gentleman who owned the van," Minton said. "I drove for him for a while and he had to downsize just a little bit, so what I done was buy my own van and came down and talked to the owner here."
Jumping the fence from the other side ...
I can't tell you how many letters, phone calls and e-mails I receive from people inquiring about how they can become Amish. The number has to be in the hundreds, I'm sure.
Most of these folks have done some research about the Amish lifestyle and admire the simplistic qualities by which the Amish live. Although I'm sure some are totally sincere, I often get the feeling many of these people are inquiring because they are looking for a "quick fix" to their hectic, over-materialistic, fed-up-with-the-way-things-are lives.
Brown City, Michigan – Hoof steps and the sound of steel wheels crunching over gravel are a common soundtrack to country life in southwestern Sanilac County.
While Amish horses and buggies aren’t a new sight on the roadways, concerns about what comes with the use of literal horsepower have been raised recently.
“Basically I’ve had some complaints about manure being left on the streets, both on Main Street and the side streets, so I reached out to the Amish community to see if we could find some sort of solution to that,” Brown City City Manager Clint Holmes said. “We don’t think it’s a health issue. Primarily it’s aesthetics.”
Sheridan Township, Michigan – A Beaverton man has been arrested for allegedly robbing an Amish family in Clare County.
On Aug. 28, Clare County Sheriff’s Department, with help from Gladwin County Sheriff Department obtained information as to the identity of the suspect who was wanted for questioning in an armed robbery case.
The incident occurred on May 23, 2014, and involved an Amish family in Sheridan Township.
Further investigation led detectives to a Gladwin County residence, where a search warrant was served and evidence related to the robbery was located.
Eau Claire County, Wisconsin - A number of Old Order Amish families in Eau Claire County will sign building and sanitary permits “under protest” to remain in their homes, according to their attorney.
Those families say signing the permit applications would cause them to lie because they have no intentions of installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors as required by the county’s Uniform Dwelling Code.
On Friday, Judge Kristina Bourget ordered Clemens Borntreger, Mahlon Miller Jr. and Eli Gingerich to sign the permit applications and pay the required fees by Sept. 30 or face eviction. The case against David Gingerich was dismissed because his home has become a storage facility. They are all of the Augusta and Fairchild areas.
Lancaster, Pennsylvania - An Amish man charged with driving drunk?
Yes, it happens in Lancaster County — perhaps more frequently than one would think.
Drunken driving, along with sex abuse, are the crimes most often committed by local members of Plain sects.
In fact, more Amish and Old Order Mennonites are being charged here than ever before, according to local law-enforcement officials and one Amish leader.
East Lampeter Township, Pennsylvania - Police are searching for a man who robbed the occupants of an Amish horse and buggy early Monday morning in East Lampeter Township, Lancaster County.
Authorities say the buggy was travelling east on the 300 block of East Eby Road. A white minivan travelling westbound pulled into their lane, forcing the buggy to stop.
The suspect had his face covered and pointed a firearm at the group. The three occupants of the buggy tossed their wallets and then steered the buggy into an adjacent field to get away.
An expert on the Amish community says Wisconsin state government should leave them alone.
The Amish number about 220,000 in the United States and reside in 20 states. They have faced lawsuits only in two states, New York and Wisconsin.
In the latter state, a judge has taken a first action against a Fairchild group, ordering them to leave their homes unless they meet building and sanitary standards. That, in part, means installing smoke detectors and plugging into the sewer system in violation of their religious beliefs.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania - Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett and other politicians have signed a statement calling on the Discovery Channel to drop the series “Amish Mafia.”
The statement says “Amish Mafia” is a “bigoted portrayal” of the religious sect and misrepresents the Amish in Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County as a “crime-ridden culture.”
The statement is signed by 18 elected officials, including congressmen, state senators, state representatives and Lancaster’s mayor. Pennsylvania’s two U.S. senators signed a similar statement.
Shipshewana, Indiana - Loren and Eva Schlabach lost their only son in a traffic accident on a clear summer day more than two years ago. Today, their pain remains so unbearable that they might be willing to risk losing their community to find justice.
At 12:17 p.m. on July 9, 2012, while Loren was at work, Eva, then 25, was driving the family’s horse-drawn buggy east on S.R. 120, about three miles north of Shipshewana, with their two daughters and son. They were moving through an S-shaped curve in the road, marked with “NO PASSING” signs, when a semi-tractor trailer struck them as it attempted to pass from behind, sending their buggy into a roadside ditch. Eva and her daughter, Nichole, then 3, were flown to a hospital in Fort Wayne and were later released. Darla, then 4, was taken by ambulance to a hospital in LaGrange and also survived.
But their 7-month-old son, Jaedon, was killed in the crash.
Heuvelton, New York - The village board has asked St. Lawrence County Legislator Joseph R. Lightfoot, R-Ogdensburg, to seek legal advice from the county attorney over the best way to proceed with crafting a public ordinance to regulate Amish horses defecating on village streets.
The Heuvelton area is home to one of the largest Amish populations in the region, with hundreds of families scattered throughout the towns of Oswegatchie, Depeyster, Hammond and Macomb, according to village officials. As a result, horses and buggies are a common sight in downtown Heuvelton, where many Amish families conduct business.