Friday, June 23, 2000

RADEL: Rash acts, deathly silence

        All signs point to a normal summer on Mason's Kenwood Drive. All signs but one.

        Moms ride bikes on the street with their children. Neighbors manicure weedless lawns and mulch lush flower beds.

        Already, there's talk about the annual block party in August. Kids love the water balloon races.

        Wednesday afternoon, the flag flew over Gary Kretzer's front yard. The pool in back looked inviting.

        Directly across the street, a child's little red wagon sat in Dennis Rock's front yard. An empty hammock swayed on the back deck.

        These are the signs of a normal summer on Kenwood Drive.

        There's one sign that's not normal. This sign has put a chill on the summer as it brings the neighborhood even closer together. In so doing, it teaches everyone a lesson in the value of talking things out and the disastrous consequences of violence.

        The sign sticks to Gary Kretzer's front door. Black, hand-written letters on a field of green plead:

        “Help us pray for our dad.”

Damaging punch
        Gary Kretzer is fighting for his life. He is in critical condition at University Hospital with brain injuries suffered from a punch he received from his across-the-street neighbor, Dennis Rock.

        The punch has damaged 12 lives: the two men, their wives and their eight children, six in the Kretzer household, two in the Rock home.

        Gary Kretzer confronted Dennis Rock on June 3 about cars parked in front of the Kretzer house. They belonged to customers visiting Dennis Rock's home business. He teaches children how to pitch baseball.

        Cars can't park in front of the Rock house. Signs on that side of the street order: “No parking fire lane.”

        A fight broke out during the confrontation. Gary Kretzer went down. Later, the sign went up on his door.

        Today, a Warren County judge decides if Dennis Rock's assets can be frozen. Gary Kretzer and his family sued their neighbor, asking for at least $5 million in damages. The Kretzers don't want Dennis Rock to transfer ownership of any property, including his $175,000 house with the little red wagon out front.

        The June 3 tragedy disrupted a normal summer on Kenwood Drive. Now, when doorbells ring, neighbors peek around closed drapes.

        “We run inside when we see reporters. It's nobody's business but the two families',” said one neighbor, a former teacher, who asked that her name not be used.

        “Things have gotten more somber,” said Angelo Fasano, one of the first residents to move onto Kenwood Drive eight years ago. His house stands two doors from the Kretzers.

        The Cintas employee told me the neighborhood is a busier place. “Everyone is pitching in to help both families. No one is taking sides. Remember, there are children involved here.”

        Neighbors are mowing lawns, bringing food, saying prayers.

        And talking with their children.

Tragic lesson
        Angelo Fasano and the former teacher told me they have had long family chats. They tell their children: Violence is bad. It hurts people.

        He said there's a lesson to be learned from this. “Be patient. Never hit anyone. Always talk things out.”

        If only those two men had just talked. All the signs of summer on Kenwood Drive would be normal.

        Columnist Cliff Radel can be reached at (513) 768-8379; fax 768-8340.

        Columnist Cliff Radel can be reached at 768-8379; fax 768-8340.