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Published: Monday, June 19, 2017 @ 11:00 AM
Updated: Monday, June 19, 2017 @ 4:42 PM
BUTLER COUNTY — 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.
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.
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.
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.
Published: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 6:45 AM
Updated: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 8:59 AM
DAYTON — UPDATE @ 8:45 a.m.:
The fire that started at a duplex in the 200 block of Warren Street in Dayton is under investigation.
No one was injured in the fire that started in the rear of the two-story building Sunday morning, according to District Chief Brad Baldwin of the Dayton Fire Department.
Baldwin said the fire was well involved when crews arrived.
Flames blew out of the front and sides of the duplex when crews made entry to the front of the first floor, Baldwin said.
Firefighters tried to control the flames as the buildings on both sides of the duplex were evacuated, according to Baldwin.
It is not yet known what started the fire or if anyone was inside at the time.
Damage estimates were not yet known but the roof had caved in.
Firefighters are on scene of a working two-story duplex fire where flames were reportedly showing in Dayton.
Crews were dispatched around 6:20 a.m. to the 200 block of Warren Street.
Buckeye Street at Warren Street is closed.
We are hearing reports that adjacent buildings are being evacuated.
Published: Saturday, April 21, 2018 @ 2:36 AM
BROOKSVILLE, Fla. — A Florida county commissioner was arrested Thursday on multiple prostitution-related charges after authorities said he housed and fed a couple in exchange for having sex with the man’s wife twice a week, The Tampa Bay Times reported.
Hernando County Commissioner Nick Nicholson, 71, was arrested Thursday by the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office. He was charged with one count of operating a location for the purpose of lewdness, assignation or prostitution and two counts of purchasing services from a person engaged in prostitution, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
The charges are second-degree misdemeanors for a first offense, and each has a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail. Nicholson posted $3,000 bail, records show.
Florida law allows Gov. Rick Scott to suspend an elected official through an executive order, the Times reported.
"Governor Scott expects all elected officials to behave ethically and responsibility. Our office is aware of this and reviewing the details,’’ spokesman McKinley Lewis told the Times.
The charges followed an alleged domestic dispute in February between Kendel Surette, 33, and Valerie Surette, 30, who were living at Nicholson’s home in Spring Hill. Kendel Surette told deputies that Nicholson had housed and fed the couple for six months; in exchange, Surette said, Nicholson had sex with his wife on Tuesdays and Saturdays, according to court records. Nicholson paid the Surettes $100 every Tuesday and $200 every Saturday, the Times reported.
Kendel Surette also told deputies that Nicholson allowed his wife to have sex with other clients on a mattress in the commissioner’s garage or in a car in the driveway, the Times reported.
Nicholson said in February that he met Valerie Surette at Icon Gentlemen’s Club, where she was a stripper. He denied having sex with the woman.
“She keeps me company,’’ he told the Times. “I’m just a nice guy, so they just took advantage of me.’’
Published: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 8:49 AM
— More than 100 witnesses may testify next month in the murder trial of a Kettering teen charged as an adult in 2016 Labor Day weekend deadly shooting of a Fairmont High School student.
The prosecution’s list of possible witnesses against Kylen Gregory in the shooting death of Ronnie Bowers includes 124 individuals, more than 60 of whom have been subpoenaed, court records show.
The state’s witness list was filed Thursday, the same day Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Dennis Langer said the trial of Gregory – who turned 18 in March - on two counts of murder and related charges is set to move forward May 7.
Much of the evidence collected against Gregory through search warrants after the shooting will be allowed at trial, Langer has ruled.
Defense attorney Jon Paul Rion sought to suppress photo identifications, phone records and other evidence taken in the hours after the Sept. 4, 2016, shooting of the 16-year-old Bowers, court documents show. He was wounded just before 9 p.m. on Willowdale Avenue and died Sept. 6 in what was ruled Kettering’s first gun-related homicide since 2007.
Rion told this news organization “we’re fully comfortable the court made a good decision in that case. And the evidence that’s coming into trial is evidence the jury should hear so they can make a good decision – a full decision on the facts.”
Langer’s March 26 ruling will allow evidence gathered from warrants for the defendant’s DNA, his phone, his home at the time and an unspecified “Apple” phone, according to court records
But the decision said a warrant for telephone records of two of Gregory’s relatives “failed to provide probable cause” for that evidence to be used in the case.
Gregory was not in court for Thursday’s two-minute hearing that Langer said followed a more than hour-long conference with defense and prosecution attorneys.
Rion said afterward that “our case is fully-prepared. We’re ready to go forward” and his client’s absence wasn’t an issue.
“It wasn’t an essential proceeding,” he said. “So there was no reason to bring him in the courtroom.”
Rion said he and attorney Benjamin Swift plan to file a witness list by the end of the month.
Those who may testify against Gregory include 20 minors, at least five of whom were said to be at the scene of the shooting, court records show. Two of those teens listed in Thursday’s filings agreed in 2016 to plea deals with prosecutors and testified in juvenile court that they were with Gregory at the shooting scene.
Bowers was shot as he sought to flee from Willowdale to avoid a confrontation that authorities and witnesses have said began at AlterFest a short time before.
Gregory and Bowers were with separate groups at the annual Labor Day festival, did not know each other and left in separate vehicles, witnesses testified in court earlier.
Gregory’s group tracked Bowers’ car to the Willowdale area about four blocks away, where issues between the teen groups continued, authorities said. Bowers began driving away and the defendant fired at the car, wounding the victim in the head, according to earlier testimony.
Bowers died two days later from a bullet wound to the head, according to the coroner’s office.
-MORE COVERAGE ON THIS ISSUE:
RELATED: Match found for Ronnie Bowers organs
Published: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 8:25 AM
— This year's Lyrid meteor shower reached its peak this weekend, and photographers flocked to social media to share some stunning snapshots of the celestial display.