Butler County creating new Veterans Treatment Court

Published: Saturday, November 26, 2016 @ 12:00 PM

The Butler County Common Pleas Court is about to expand its specialty dockets to include a new Veterans Treatment Court.

The emphasis on the court will be treatment and diversion, according to officials, and will connect veterans with services and a military support network that they may have lost when they returned to civilian life.

Butler County Common Please Court Judge Michael Oster Jr. has visited other local Veterans Treatment Courts, or VTCs, and said they are designed to break down barriers such as unemployment or under employment, homelessness, drug problems and other issues that may have contributed to veterans ending up on the wrong side of the law.

“We really want to make that camaraderie of bringing them together and not only the court holding them accountable, but themselves,” he said. “These are men and women who are disciplined … we want to add that (camaraderie) as well to really make them successful.”

The municipal judges in Hamilton and Middletown have been operating VTCs for several years.

Middletown Municipal Court Judge Mark Wall has been keeping statistics on his VTC since its inception in 2011 and those numbers show a 78 percent success rate overall, he said.

By far the biggest misdemeanor crime veterans committed was drunk driving (38 percent), he said. Domestic incidents involving substance abuse came in second with 34 cases, and there were 17 drug cases.

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor said the VTCs have had a great deal of success. The recidivism rate is what is key in any court case, and she said the VTCs appear to have that issue in check.

“The long term effect is what is important, where are they a year later, where are they two years later, is there a rate of recidivism…,” O’Connor said. “My understanding is the veterans courts have the lowest rate of recidivism amongst their population. I think it is a very worthwhile endeavor.”

The chief justice also told the Journal-News that veterans courts have produced not only veterans who don’t offend again, but people whose problems have been solved through all the various services they have received under the court’s supervision.

“By the time they get out they’ve got a high level of employment amongst their ranks, a stable living situation which they didn’t have, chances are when they came in there. Chances are they weren’t employed or they were marginally employed,” O’Connor said. “They have other indicators of stability.”

Wall said his veterans are hooked up with the Dayton VA, its social workers and myriad of services and the Butler County vet board. He said they are in the program for a year and the strict oversight the court provides is another success factor.

“Some of them are reporting back to me as soon as two weeks,” he said. “Then we can drop it off to a month and then six months…,” he said. “We keep bringing them back and they’ve got to verify they are in the program and they are doing what we recommend.”

For the county common pleas court to add a VTC, no additional funds are needed because adequate staffing is already in place. Unlike the other specialty courts, veterans don’t have to live in the county to get on the VTC docket, but they do have to have a felony case from the county.

Veterans who are already in the court system won’t be switched over, especially if they are already doing well under their current probation terms. But parole violators would likely move to Oster’s court.

“I don’t anticipate it being an overwhelming number (of veterans), but we’re not going to restrict it either,” said Rob Menke, manager of court administration. “We’re not going to say ‘we’re at capacity now so this veteran is not appropriate.’ We’re going to continue to offer services and if we need expansion with additional supervision officers or additional veterans justice outreach, maybe from the VA, maybe that’s something to look at.”

Butler County Court Administrator Wayne Gilkison said there are no leniency provisions in the program, and the veterans will be treated according to the law.

“It’ll be no different than any other offender that comes through,” he said. “They would be eligible (to have their felony record expunged) according to the time frames prescribed by Ohio Revised Court.”

Oster said he and the other common pleas judges felt this was a worthy cause.

“The reality is if we can’t make time to help our veterans then I don’t think there is really time for anything,” he said. “These are men and women who have given us the abilities and the freedoms to even have our jobs and our freedom and the liberties that we have. If we can’t make time to help them, then there’s something wrong.”

Fifth tornado confirmed in neighboring Miami Valley county

Published: Wednesday, May 24, 2017 @ 9:53 PM
Updated: Thursday, May 25, 2017 @ 7:22 AM

A fourth tornado touched down Wednesday in Fayette County, in addition to the two that hit in Clark County and one in Miami County.

Tornadoes were confirmed in the following locations:

  • EF-1 confirmed in Park Layne
  • EF-0 confirmed near Medway
  • EF-1 confirmed near Piqua
  • EF-0 confirmed in Fayette County

UPDATE @ 2:52 p.m.:

A fourth tornado is reported to have touched down in the region during Wednesday night’s storm, according to the National Weather Service.

An EF0 tornado briefly touched down in Warren County, in a field four miles north of Harveysburg, according to the NWS.

UPDATE @ 1:30 p.m. (May 26)

In addition to three tornadoes that hit the Miami Valley on Wednesday, a fourth tornado touched down in neighboring Fayette County, according to the National Weather Service in Wilmington.

The EF-0 tornado touched down in the extreme western portion of Fayette County, based on radar data, video evidence and eyewitness reports, according to the weather service.

The tornado had wind gusts of 50 mph, was 25 yards wide and traveled approximately three miles, according to the weather service. it dissipated about four miles southeast of Jamestown.

The tornado traveled primarily through empty farm fields and did not left little damage, according to the weather service.

EARLIER

The National Weather Service has confirmed a third tornado touched down near Medway in Clark County.

Maximum sustained winds for the tornado were 75 mph and it was said to be on the ground for 500 yards, the weather service said.

The tornado touched down on Lower Valley Pike near Princeton Drive, just southwest of the I-70 and Ohio 235 interchange.

Several manufactured homes sustained roof and siding damage and two large trees fell on and destroyed homes on Cordova Drive at McMahan’s Fairview Terrace Mobile Home Park.

RELATED: Multiple mobile homes damaged by downed trees in Clark County

Several homes on Wellington Avenue had mud splattered on the north or east side of the homes, showing evidence of rotation, the weather service said.

According to the weather service, carports and awnings also were destroyed.

The damage quickly lessened in strength further to the northwest with minimal damage along Jason Drive and no evidence of damage by Amy Dee Lane, NWS said.

UPDATE @ 3:46 p.m.:

A second tornado was confirmed by the National Weather Service approximately five miles southeast of Piqua.

The weather service said the maximum winds for the tornado near Piqua were estimated at 90 mph.

UPDATE @ 3:36 p.m.:

A tornado that caused damage in Park Layne and southeast Miami County had maximum sustained winds of 100 mph and was on the ground for nearly four miles, the National Weather Service said.

Officials said the tornado first touched down in the western side of Park Layne as an EF-1 tornado, where damage occurred to some commercial buildings and trees.

RELATED: Businesses damaged in Park Layne

The maximum width of the tornado was 300 yards.

Additional tree damage and minor roof damage occurred along Bellefontaine Road to the northwest, the weather service said.

Sporadic damage, primarily to trees, was found farther to the northwest, ultimately ending along Ohio 201 north of Studebaker Road.

The damage near Studebaker Road was consistent with wind speeds of an EF-0 tornado, the weather service said.

Officials are expected to release additional details later this afternoon.

An EF-1 tornado is classified with wind speeds between 86 to 110 mph and an EF-0 tornado has wind speeds of 65 to 85 mph.

UPDATE @ 2:56 p.m. 

Bethel Twp. fire department official gave an update on the damage at Sunoco gas station. The hazard has been secured and no fuel was lost. The fuel tank valves have been secured.

Also, there are six families being assisted in this area of Park Layne.

There has been extensive damage to roofs on homes along Osborne Road, according to Bethel Twp. fire. The department was able to use a drone in the daylight to get a clearer picture of the damage. 

Clark County EMA is handling the damage assessment. 

Larry Shaffer, Clark County Combined Health District, said eight of 10 restaurants are back in business after the storms caused closures. 

The Mel-O-Dee restaurant could be closed for up to three weeks due to broken air conditioning units and a structural truss damaged. The Family Dollar that was damaged will also remain closed. 

Tom Hale, Clark County building official, said several businesses remain without power. 

UPDATE @ 10:06 a.m.

The National Weather Service has confirmed an EF-1 tornado hit Park Layne Wednesday night.

The weather service estimated maximum winds for the tornado at 100 mph.

Additional details, including the path length and width on the Park Layne tornado will be released later today, NWS said.

UPDATE @ 9:49 a.m.:

The National Weather Service storm survey teams have arrived in Park Layne and are beginning their surveys of suspected tornado damage in Clark, Greene and Miami counties.

>>PHOTOS:  Storm damageStorms, funnel clouds

The National Weather Service will be out today to survey damage in Greene, Clark and Miami counties to determine the number, strength and exact locations of tornado touchdowns.

Two survey teams will begin today in Park Layne and then those teams will split up, with one going to Miami County and the other going to Greene County.

>>VIDEO: Funnel cloud over Fairborn

In a statement issued early this morning, weather service officials in Wilmington said some of these damage reports, reported by whio.com and News Center 7, include:  

  • Wright-Patterson Air Force Base security forces are checking for damage. “At this time, we do not know if a tornado touched down or not” on the base, spokeswoman Marie Vanover said. WPAFB weather casters issued a tornado warning at 8:33 p.m., which was extended twice more. An “all clear” has since been issued, she said.
  • In Greene County, several trees and power lines were reported down near Dayton Xenia and Trebein roads in the Xenia area.
  • In Miami County, a tornado may be responsible for barn debris, trees and wires in the street the 8000 block of Bellefontaine Road, according to the National Weather Service. The road is closed, according to the Miami County Sheriff’s Dispatch.
  • In Miami County, trees and power lines down in Bethel Twp. at Bellefontaine Road, between U.S. 40 and Palmer Road.
  • In Beavercreek, a tornado may be possible for several trees and power lines reported down near Dayton Xenia and Trebein roads, according to the National Weather Service.
  • In Beavercreek, a tornado may be responsible for several trees down along Dayton Yellow Springs Road near Fairborn. 
  • In Miami County, two homes with structural damage near highway 201 at Studebaker Road.
  • In Miami County, Deweese Road at Peterson, closed because of power lines and trees down.
  • In Montgomery County, trees were reported down in the 8300 block of National Road

It is believed that a tornado or multiple tornadoes were responsible for the damage in certain locations in these 

counties, weather service officials said.  

There may be additional locations that require damage surveys that aren't listed above, weather service officials said. 

“We will be in contact with emergency managers from the affected counties to determine a specific plan for damage surveys, as well as assess the need for additional surveys in other locations,” weather service officials said in the statement.

INITIAL REPORT

Several tornadoes are being reported in Greene County tonight.

Here are some of the reports (all of these reports have to be verified by the National Weather Service):

>>RELATED: Xenia graduation at Nutter Center disrupted

>>VIDEOS: Sirens, wall clouds in Greene

  • One has been reported in Fairborn, reported by Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
  • One has been reported, by weather spotters to the National Weather Service, in southwest Miami County
  • Another in the area of U.S. 35 at the split with the U.S. 35 Business Route near Xenia
  • Near Jeffersonville and the Jackson Twp. line in eastern Greene County

Jason Slyger, of Sabina, said he saw a tornado touch down near Jeffersonville and the Jackson Twp. line about 8:30 p.m. 

"You see the storm, you see a V and all of a sudden you see debris in the air," he said. 

We are hearing no reports of damage of injuries. 

We have been fielding reports of funnel and other threatening clouds. 

We will continue to update this report as warranted. 

Reports: Comey knew Clinton email info was fake, created by Russia

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017 @ 2:05 PM

FILE- In this May 3, 2017, file photo, FBI Director James Comey listens on Capitol Hill in Washington. Comey's memo relating President Donald Trump’s request to shut down an investigation of his ousted national security adviser is a powerful piece of evidence that could be used to build an obstruction of justice case against the president. But criminal charges of interfering with an investigation are difficult in ordinary circumstances, several former federal prosecutors cautioned Wednesday, May 17, 2017, a day after word of the existence of the memo broke. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
Carolyn Kaster/AP

CNN is reporting that former FBI Director James Comey knew that some information about the investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server was created by Russian intelligence, but did not disclose that fact when he declared that the investigation into Clinton’s activities was over last summer.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that the FBI received a Russian intelligence document saying the Clinton campaign had an understanding with the Justice Department that Clinton would not be prosecuted over the email inquiry into whether she intentionally revealed classified information through her use of a private email server.

According to the Post story, Comey made his decision to end the investigation in part on the basis of that memo.

According to the CNN story, Comey did not consult with Attorney General Loretta Lynch when he decided to make a public announcement that the investigation was over. In the July 5 hearing, Comey did say that while Clinton was secretary of state, she had been “extremely careless” when she set up a private email server in her home in New York.

The CNN story claims that the FBI knew that piece of the investigation was fake and that the bureau was not deceived. According to the story in the Post, it was not until some time later that the bureau learned the information was fake.

According to CNN, Comey was not as concerned about whether the information was fake, but about whether the report was going to be released by the Russians. If it had been, sources close to Comey told CNN, the FBI could not refute it without compromising intelligence sources and methods.

For the full story, see CNN and The Washington Post.

Wright State releases athletics budgets to explain funding increase

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017 @ 2:21 PM

Wright State University’s Men’s and Women’s swimming and diving teams will be cut to generate $500,000 in savings.

Wright State University today released an addendum to its budget remediation plan from a week ago that details athletics spending and funding since 2013.

The six-year snapshot of athletics funding and spending is WSU’s attempt to clarify why the department will get more funding as layoffs and budget cuts are being made across campus, a spokesman said.

RELATED: WSU interim president: ‘Our financial picture is grim’

If the budget proposal is approved by trustees on June 8, athletics could get a $1.6 million boost in budgeted funding in fiscal year 2018. That would bring athletics’ total university support to more than $10.1 million next year, up from $7.7 million in 2013, according to the document.

Despite the funding increase, athletics spending is projected to be $202,448 less than this year. Part of that savings comes from the elimination of WSU’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams, which eliminated about $500,000 in expenses.

While WSU’s budget for athletics could increase, other revenue sources are projected to decline next year by $193,943, according to the snapshot. If the revenue projection is correct, since 2016 athletics will have seen a more than $430,000 decline in revenue from sources other than WSU itself.

RELATED: Wright State hits its ‘low point’ with announcement of layoffs, budget cuts

Officials have said previous athletics budgets were not realistic. This new budget for athletics gives the department “a budget we can hold them accountable to,” Doug Fecher, vice chairman of the board of trustees said last week.

Wright State is attempting to correct years of overspending by slashing $25 million from its upcoming budget while boosting reserves by $5 million. The university announced last week that it will likely lay off around 71 employees and eliminate about 107 vacant positions.

Ariana Grande back in Florida hometown after concert bombing

Published: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 5:36 PM

Ariana Grande has reportedly returned to her hometown of Boca Raton, Florida, after her Manchester, England, concert was the site of a terrorist bombing on Monday night.

According to E News, Grande and her mother Joan Grande were greeted at Boca Raton Airport earlier today by boyfriend and musician Mac Miller. Sources from People magazine reported that as she departed the private jet, the 23-year-old singer “looked distraught and like she has been crying. They hugged for a while before they headed to a waiting car.”

>> Read more trending news

The Daily Mail reported that she was taken to the home of a family member in a gated community.

Grande, who had just finished her set at the Manchester Arena before the explosion that killed at least 22 people and injured more than 50, had previously tweeted her disbelief at the situation, saying,“Broken. From the bottom of my heart, I am so sorry.”

According to TMZ, Joan Grande, who was at the Manchester show with her daughter, helped get some scared young fans sitting near her in the front row backstage to safety.

Related: Manchester explosion: Ariana Grande's mother reportedly helps fans to safety

The suspect who detonated a suicide bomb near one of the exits has been identified by police as Salman Abedi, 22. The ISIS state has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Shortly after Monday’s explosion, Grande reached out to longtime friend Misha Lambert, whose father, songwriter Dennis Lambert, said, “No sooner had I heard the first reports when my daughter Misha called to say she was in touch with Ari and all of her people are safe and unhurt.”