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Published: Saturday, November 26, 2016 @ 12:00 PM
BUTLER COUNTY — 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.
Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 8:12 PM
— Local law enforcement and school officials are aware and investigating reports on social media of possible threats against a school.
Lt. Jeff Williams of Springfield police said since Tuesday evening when reports surfaced of an 8-year-old male arrested for an unloaded gun at Simon Kenton Elementary, that many social media posts have surfaced and been shared.
Williams said many “rumors” are being investigated by Springfield police. He said police believe it is “misinformation” circulating around and they do not believe any credible threat exists.
However, Springfield police will have extra patrols at the high school Thursday.
The vague social media post referenced a “SHS” school, which could include any one of many schools in the area that start with the letter “S.”
Williams said officers spent most of Wednesday tracking down social media posts and speaking with witnesses in Springfield.
Parents in the Mad River Local Schools were issued a one-call Wednesday evening. The call from the superintendent said they are aware of a social media threat against “SHS” and are investigating whether it was directed to Stebbins High School or another school.
“Every school that starts with an “S” has done that,” Williams said of being on alert.
Clark County Sheriff Deborah Burchett said Wednesday night her office is not aware of any threats against Clark County schools.
Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 5:55 PM
DAYTON — Less than four months after winning re-election, long-time Dayton City Commissioner Joey Williams tonight annoucned he is stepping down, effective Friday.
The 52-year-old Williams, the top vote-getter in the Dayton commission race in November, has served on the body since 2002. But tonight’s city commission meeting will be his last as an elected Dayton leader.
Williams said he ran for re-election last year expecting to complete his full four-year term, but his work responsibilities have grown so much since being named the new Dayton market president of KeyBank. KeyBank publicly announced his hiring about two days after the election.
Williams said he quickly realized that the amount of travel involved in his new role would be difficult to juggle with his commission duties.
He said he typically missed a few commission meetings each year. Since November, Williams said he has been missing at least one meeting each month.
“It’s really not fair to the community if I can’t put the proper time and effort into the job,” he said. “I had no idea this job was in my future.”
Williams also told this news organization that his new job creates more potential for conflicts of interest since he’s more heavily involved with bank activities and its customers.
The city will host a special municipal election during the primary election on May 8, which is 76 days away.
To fill vacancies, the commission determines by ordinance a special election that must take place 60 to 90 days after the vacancy occurs, according to city charter.
Dayton residents who want to replace Williams will need to collect at least 500 signatures of registered electors by March 9, which is 60 days before the election, according to the city charter .
If the city had to host a special election just to fill Williams’ vacant seat, it would cost more than $100,000, said Steve Harsman, deputy director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections.
But costs should be minimal — perhaps $6,000 to $8,000 — if the race is placed on the May 8 primary election ballot, Harsman said.
Williams said the timing of his departure is intended to avoid a special election.
“I didn’t want the community to have to have a special election as a result of me having to resign,” Williams said. “I wanted to do it at a time that corresponded with a primary or general election.”
Williams’ colleagues on the commission praised his contributions and leadership.
“When (people) go back and look at the history of the city the last decade and more, they are going to point to you as maybe the main reason we as a commission was able to lead and bring the city out of one of the worst crises we’ve ever seen,” said Commissioner Matt Joseph.
Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 3:53 AM
Updated: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 3:22 PM
— A Winter Weather Advisory has been issued for Auglaize, Champaign, Darke, Logan, Mercer, and Shelby counties, in effect from 1 a.m. Thursday through 11 a.m.
Total ice accumulations overnight could reach one-tenth of an inch with limited viability also expected.
A Flood Watch has also been issued for Butler, Clinton and Warren counties, starting at 7 p.m. Wednesday through 10 a.m. Feb. 25.
>> 5-Day Forecast
THIS EVENING: On and off rain. Temperatures will drop through the 30s.
TONIGHT: Rain likely. As temperatures drop, the rain may become freezing rain across the northern Miami Valley. Elsewhere, temperatures should remain just above freezing, in the lower to middle 30s.
THURSDAY: Rain or freezing rain in the morning then drying out. Clouds will remain. Temperatures will hold in the middle 40s.
FRIDAY: Rain likely. The rain may be heavy at times. It will be mild with highs in the upper 50s.
SATURDAY: Rain likely. The rain may be heavy at times with a chance for some thunder, mainly south. Highs will be near 60 degrees.
SUNDAY: Rain will taper off early in the morning with clouds breaking. It will be windy and cooler with highs in the middle 50s.
MONDAY: Sunshine returns. Breezy and cool with highs in the lower 50s.
Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 5:23 PM
BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. — The alleged gunman in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting last week in Parkland, Fla., has an inheritance from his adoptive parents worth $800,000, according to news outlets.
Cruz was charged with 17 counts of murder last Thursday, a day after allegedly opening fire inside the high school with an assault-style rifle.
The large amount of money could prompt a judge to review the estate and possibly make the money accessible for Cruz’s defense.
The Public Defender’s Office asked a judge Tuesday to review the inheritance, the Herald reported, to help determine if any of the money can be used in his defense.
The court filing specifically asked the judge to “determine whether the defendant is indigent.”
Cruz is charged with 17 counts of murder in the deaths of 14 students and three adults, including teachers, in the deadly rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day. More than a dozen others were injured in the massacre.
Cruz was caught shortly after the shooting in nearby Coral Springs, Fla., and taken into custody without incident.
He’s jailed without bond.