Saturday, April 04, 2009

Planned Home Guard militia training in Geauga County prompts concerns from neighbors

OHIO - Amid a thicket of confusion and conflicting information, a small militia group is trying to take root in Geauga County.

The Geauga County Home Guard says it is associated with the Ohio Defense Force and had planned to host training exercises for the force's units from around the state, beginning April 17. The Ohio Defense Force is a militia formed 10 years ago to help local authorities during emergencies, according to a spokesman.

The training plans were scrapped Wednesday amid outcries from residents worried about live-fire exercises in their heavily wooded neighborhood nestled alongside the Geauga Park District's Swine Creek Reservation in Middlefield Township.

Lacey Fair, who lives next to the training site, was concerned for the safety of her daughters, ages 4 and 12.

She said Brandon Drabek, who owns the site and identifies himself as the public-relations person for the Home Guard, could not give her adequate assurances.

Her home is about 120 yards from his land. Fair said that when she asked what to do while the training was going on, he told her, "That's a good question. Keep your dogs and children inside."

Drabek says he told Fair to keep her kids and dogs off private property.

Fair said Drabek told her the group would be using automatic weapons; he denies that. Fair also said Drabek claimed the group had been endorsed by Geauga County Sheriff Dan McClelland.

McClelland said that he extended no such endorsement and would not because he does not know enough about the Home Guard or the Ohio Defense Force.........

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