Butler County Children Services plans next levy

Published: Monday, June 19, 2017 @ 11:00 AM
Updated: Monday, June 19, 2017 @ 4:42 PM

Butler County commissioners are weighing a renewal levy request for Butler County Children Services on the November ballot.

Interim Butler County Job and Family Services Executive Director Bill Morrison says a renewal of the 2-mill levy that brings in about $13 million is all that is necessary, not an increase.

Butler County spent $24 million on children’s services last year, including the local levy money which makes up 59 percent of the agency’s revenues.

CLOSER LOOK: Opioid crisis strains children’s services in Ohio, Butler County

The current levy, approved by 61 percent of voters in 2012, expires next year. If voters do not renew the levy, the agency will be in the negative almost $5 million by 2019 and $60 million by 2023, according JFS Finance Director Barb Fabelo’s projections.

Not only would the levy funds be lost, but so would a majority of federal funding, which requires matching money from the levy.

“Levy failure would mean a skeleton operation with only mandated services,” Fabelo told the Journal-News.

MORE: Opiate epidemic focus of new Butler County Family Drug Court

Morrison previously said he may have to ask commissioners to approve a higher levy amount in order to deal with the opiate epidemic.

“It’s not that we’re licking the problem or anything like that, but we are managing to deal with the problem successfully,” Morrison told the Journal-News. “We continue to work all the non-heroin cases largely without removing the children and placing the children in foster care, so our in-custody numbers continue to fall.”

Of the 355 children in the care of Butler County Children Services, 161, or 43 percent, come from families where drugs were cited as the reason for the removal of the children.

Many changes have occurred at the agency over the past several years that have produced positive results both financially and for families. They changed their case flow and have taken advantage of Medicaid expansion by using providers for services once done in-house.

MORE: Program aims to keep children out of Butler County’s custody

Morrison resurrected the Family Preservation program last year which allows them to bill Medicaid. It also is an opportunity to keep families together which keeps costs down. In 2014 placement costs were $12 million the projection for this year is $8.8 million.

The staffing at BCCS is also down with 148 people versus 165 in 2012. There are 15 vacancies in the department, but that doesn’t mean they will all be filled, Morrison said.

“We don’t just automatically fill things because they are there,” Morrison said. “We’re always looking for opportunities to save some dollars, we’re always looking for opportunities to shift costs away from levy funds… any way we can. We look at our levy dollars as being precious.”

Butler County Administrator Charlie Young praised the agency that only a couple years ago was staring down a $4 million deficit.

MORE: Children Services deficit doubles to $4 million

“We’ve seen that not so long ago, 2014 our funds had run extremely low,” he said. “We’ve seen the recovery that they’ve made through just an incredible amount of hard work and leadership from the commission and leadership from Bill, from Julie from others in the organization and truly leadership from your staff that adopted these policies.”

Less humid today; heating up for Monday’s solar eclipse

Published: Friday, August 18, 2017 @ 5:22 AM

Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini looks at the chance for rain and how warm we get this weekend


  • Wind shift will bring less humid air back
  • A few showers Saturday, but drying out quickly
  • Heating up for the solar eclipse Monday
Five Day Forecast


Today:  Despite a very warm and muggy start to the day, winds shifting to the west will help to bring in cooler, drier air for the rest of the day, said Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini. A front will push through in the morning. Breezy at times this afternoon with highs in the low 80s. There will be sunshine and some scattered clouds.

>> County-by-county forecasts

Saturday: A few showers are possible during the day. Any rain should stay isolated, but you might want to keep some rain gear around for outdoor plans. Highs will be around 80 degrees. It will be dry in the evening.

WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

Sunday: It will be a beautiful end to the weekend with highs in the upper 80s. It will be warm and muggy with sunshine.

Monday (Eclipse Day): It will be hot for the solar eclipse with highs in the upper 80s. It will be muggy with heat index values in the low 90s. Keep plenty of water around. There will be sunshine and some scattered clouds possible later in the afternoon. It will still be a good view for the eclipse.

>> Dew point and humidity: What’s the difference?

Tuesday: It will be dry early with highs in the upper 80s with showers and storms at night.

Springboro teacher in drug case among ‘most admired and respected’ in district

Published: Friday, August 18, 2017 @ 1:02 AM

Springboro teacher, her teen son facing drug charges

Amy Panzeca’s personnel file paints a picture of an exemplary and dedicated teacher.

Nothing foretells her arrest this week on drug charges nor the letter sent Wednesday from her employer, Springboro Community Schools. It stated:

"Effective immediately and until further notice, you are hereby placed on paid administrative leave pending the resolution of your pending legal circumstances."

Her base salary was $72,623 in 2016, according to the Dayton Daily News I-Team's Payroll Project.

RELATED: Police build drug case against Springboro teacher and son by stopping cars in Settlers Walk

Panzeca, 48, and her 15-year-old son were arrested Monday night, and both were in court Tuesday. Panzeca pleaded not guilty to felony permitting drug use and misdemeanor charges of endangering children and contributing to the unruliness of a minor. 

Court documents allege Panzeca allowed the sale and use of drugs, including LSD and marijuana, in her Christman Drive home in Springboro's Settlers Walk neighborhood. 

"She was aware that drug trafficking was going on and was aware that drug use was going on and was aware of that fact for several months," Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said of Panzeca and her son. "This juvenile was trafficking LSD to somewhere between 20 and 30 students, most of whom attended Springboro High School." 

RELATED: Teacher’s home on Christman Drive raided by drug task force

A year before her home was raided in May by a Warren County drug task force, Panzeca received a much different letter from the district. The April 2016 letter was to inform her of a nomination for the prestigious EPIC (Engage, Prepare, Inspire and Challenge) Teaching Award. Nominations come from parents, staff, alumni and community members. Although Panzeca did not receive the award, the letter included in her personnel file stated the nomination "places you among the most admired and respected educators in our district." 

Panzeca first joined the district at Clearcreek Elementary School for the 1994-95 academic year, when she was known by her maiden name Amy Arnold. 

RELATED: Teachers in trouble: 5 times allegations levied at area teachers

Throughout her 23-year career at Springboro Schools, she taught fifth, sixth and eighth grades. She spent the most number of years teaching fifth-graders, most recently at Five Points Elementary School. 

Evaluations showed Panzeca was a highly competent teacher; she had a good rapport with her students; and she planned engaging lessons for her classroom. In July 2003, she earned a permanent teaching license for first through eighth grades by the Ohio Department of Education. 

At different points in her career, Panzeca served as the head junior high cheerleading coach; vice president of the teachers union, Springboro Education Association; and as a mentor teacher. 

>> Warren County Jail mugs

Before she was offered a full-time position at Springboro Schools, the Miami University graduate worked as a substitutue teacher for Springboro Schools and several Butler County school districts, including Fairfield City, Lakota Local and Ross Local schools, according to Panzeca's employment application. 

Springboro school officials said a permanent substitue would take over Panzeca's classroom duties for this academic year, and that parents of affected students were to be notified. 

Panzeca is scheduled to appear Aug. 31 in court.

Warren County city’s council race now uncontested after candidate error

Published: Friday, August 18, 2017 @ 9:11 AM

            Carlisle Councilwoman Barb Tankersley
Carlisle Councilwoman Barb Tankersley

Warren County has its second uncontested race for municipal council seats.

Five candidates were seeking four open seats on Carlisle Village Council. However, the Warren County Board of Elections Thursday notified incumbent Councilwoman Barb Tankersley that she was disqualified due to a defect in one of her petitions.

Apparently, Tankersley failed to sign her declaration of candidacy on one of her petitions, according to the Warren County Board of Elections.

MORE: Franklin voters to consider five charter amendments in November

Tankersley will not be able to run as a write-in candidate in November due to a state law prohibiting a candidate for filing for the same office in the same election, according to Warren County Elections Director Brian Sleeth.

Appointed two years ago to fill a vacancy, Tankersley said this was the first time she had circulated petitions.

“I was a little upset,” she said. “I thought I had filled it out completely. I just overlooked something.”

Barring a write-in candidate, the four Carlisle council seats will be uncontested for incumbent Councilmen Randal Jewett and Brad McIntosh, newcomer Will Bicknell

Also seeking one of the open seats are newcomers Will Bicknell and former mayor and councilman Tim Humphries.

Woman still searching for a cure after 3 years with unexplained pain

Published: Friday, August 18, 2017 @ 9:11 AM


It’s been three years since a local woman began noticing unexplained symptoms that caused her to eventually need constant cold packs, but she’s no closer to finding answers.

Paula Corey has a disorder called Erythromelalgia, a medical term that comes from the Greek word for “red burning limb.”

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“They've got unexplained burning pain... they have redness... and the pain feels better when they cool the area,” Dr. Anne Oaklander from Mass. General Hospital said.

At first, the episodes, or "flares” Corey experienced, were only occasional.

“Sometimes it would be just my feet. Would be maybe once or twice a month,” she said.

Now, it's something she can't ignore, because the burning almost never goes away. 

“Literally, your foot, is on top of a flame... that you can't put out,” Corey said. “I had a full-time career. I was a paralegal, spent all my time outside, worked out at the gym five days a week.”

Now, she is a virtual prisoner to a cold room. But "giving up" is not on her agenda and she offers this advice for others with the disorder.

“Keep looking for that answer, keep searching for that doctor,” she said.

Until then, Corey has a freezer full of ice packs, an air-conditioned room and something that does not run hot and cold - the support of her family.