Authorities are not bluffing when it comes to policing Hellbender

LISBON – Two young men were recently ordered to pay for repairs to Hellbender Bluff Park after their vehicles became stuck while joy-riding there.

Warran J. Fey, 19, Y & O Road, Wellsville, and Jack R. Morrell Jr., 19, Buckeye Road, Lisbon, were ordered by a Columbiana County Municipal Court judge in May to share in the $1,645 cost of repairing damage caused to the 752-acre park, which is located in Madison Township.

The pair were charged by a wildlife officer from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for driving a motor vehicle in a prohibited area. After pleading no contest, they were placed on probation for one year and ordered to pay for damages their vehicles made to the park.

The incident occurred on March 30 when a Chevy Tracker reportedly driven by Fey became stuck at the park. Morrell showed up with a pickup truck to pull the Tracker out but also became stuck. No motorized vehicles are allowed in the park, which is operated by the Columbiana County Park District and features several hiking trails. The park is also open for public hunting and fishing.

“The ground was very soft because it was that time of year, and they put some really big ruts in our trails,” said Mike West, a park board member.

The board hired Beaver Creek Meadows Landscaping to repair the damage, with Fey and Morrell agreeing to reimburse the park district as part of the plea deal.

West said they initially had a problem with people riding ATVs and four-wheel vehicles through the park after it was open but it has slowed considerably since they posted property signs and began having the park patrolled by the wildlife officer.

“It worked out very well for the park,” West said. “It’s nice to catch someone for once.”