EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN) — If you’re a police officer in the village of East Palestine, chances are there is one address engraved in your brain– 219 Wood Street.

The house, which has been boarded up since Columbiana County Prosecutor Vito Abruzzino won a temporary restraining order May 10 declaring the property a nuisance, will remain boarded up until May 10, 2023, after an agreement was reached last week in common pleas court with the owner 42-year-old Paul Kern.

A drug house in East Palestine will remain boarded up (1)
Courtesy: Columbiana County Prosecutor’s Office

Abruzzino filed for the order last year to declare the house a nuisance after at least 19 visits by law enforcement between December 2018 and March of 2021. Included in those visits were at least five search warrants.

During those warrants or other police visits, authorities seized drug paraphernalia and drugs, the most common of which seemed to be methamphetamine.

In his complaint last May asking for a temporary restraining order, Abruzzino also documented all the people police encountered at the house when they were there. At least 27 of them had a criminal record, ranging from felonious assault to misdemeanor drug convictions. At least one of the people found there had criminal convictions dating back to 1998.

Two people also overdosed at the home and one of them died.

Abruzzino said the single-family home belonged to Kern’s mother, and he took ownership of the home after she died.

Abruzzino said he was asked by village police to see if there was anything he could do to shut the house down. He said places like the house are a sore spot in communities because they attract a lot of bad activity.

“It’s a serious magnet for bad behavior,” Abruzzino said.

Abruzzino also said it is important to make sure all complaints are documented and he credited village police for their cooperation. Chief James Brown did not return a call seeking comment.

Of the calls police answered at the home, some of them bordered on the bizarre. During one of them, Kern’s brother was caught breaking in and told police he was there to retrieve cats left behind by their mother.

At a different call, a woman told police she was getting married soon and was inviting Vladimir Putin, President Obama and Queen Elizabeth. She said the ceremony would be at Nelson Ledges.

Police answered calls there ranging from custody disputes to drug sales. The company that hauled away the garbage discontinued its service for lack of payment and when they took away the trash receptacle, they found discarded needles and a burnt spoon, according to the complaint.

Village officials also cited the home under their nuisance ordinance after someone constructed a treehouse from wooden pallets, a tarp and a television antenna.

Abruzzino said the county is also pursuing foreclosure against Kern because of a backlog of unpaid taxes at the house, so it should be out of his name shortly.

During some of the time documented in the complaint, Kern wasn’t even there. He was serving a nine-month prison on two fifth degree felony drug charges.