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Dozens of drivers appeal Norton $200 speed camera tickets, city evaluating camera's return

Posted: 5:36 PM, Nov 20, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-20 23:10:35Z

Some of the 9,352 people who recently received a $200 ticket from a Norton speed camera-- known as DragonCam-- are appealing their fines and a few of them are winning.

Paul Krauss, 27, of Rittman, told an independent hearing officer that his ticket for going 69 miles per hour in the I-76 construction zone happened on a Sunday morning when crews were not working.

"My argument is that the fine is excessive based on the fact that there was no active work going on at the time," Krauss said.

His case was dismissed.

Joe Smith, 35, of North Ridgeville, was also among several people who showed up at Norton City Hall on Tuesday to challenge a ticket.

In fact, Smith received two tickets in the mail for violations that occurred within a week of each other. In one case, his car was clocked at 71 miles her hour. In the second instance, speed was measured at 68 miles per hour.

"That was a kick in the gut because who has $400 to pay for somebody hiding somewhere trying to get money for you?" Smith said.

The hearing officer agreed to drop one of Smith's tickets.

Two weeks ago, 30 appeal hearings were held and seven drivers had tickets dismissed.

The high number of citations in just two months has caused controversy with some people calling it a cash grab for Norton.

Fines exceeded $1.8 million. Since Norton keeps 60 percent of the money, the city had the potential to collect more than $1.1 million to pay for school resource officers, police equipment and road repairs.

Despite some public backlash, Robert Fowler, the city's administrator, said the program is meant to slow down drivers and reduce accidents in the construction zone.

"It was about workers safety or we would be running it 24 hours a day seven days a week. We'd be running it now. We're not running it now," Fowler said.

Police officers used DragonCam from atop bridges but stopped using the device earlier this month since I-76 construction is on hold.

City officials originally told News 5 the camera would come back in the spring, but Fowler said that is still being evaluated and a decision will be made based on the progress of the project.

"If the construction requires it, we would bring it back," he said.

The city of Norton also sent out a press release warning people about a letter that is incorrectly explaining how funds from the enforcement program are being used.

The writer forged the police chief's signature and could face criminal charges.

Anyone with information on the author is asked to call Detective Starling at 330-706-0084 ext. 129.