UPDATE


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.”

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Dayton Duplex fire under investigation

Published: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 6:45 AM
Updated: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 8:59 AM

SCENE: Fire breaks out at Dayton duplex

UPDATE @ 8:45 a.m.:

The fire that started at a duplex in the 200 block of Warren Street in Dayton is under investigation.

>>Waffle House shooting: 4 dead after nude gunman opens fire in Tennessee, police say

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.

INITIAL REPORT:

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.

We will update this story as we learn more.

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Florida commissioner allegedly fed, housed couple in exchange for sex twice a week

Published: Saturday, April 21, 2018 @ 2:36 AM

Nick Nicholson
Hernando County Sheriff's Office
Nick Nicholson(Hernando County Sheriff's Office)

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.’’

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Kettering teen homicide trial may have 100-plus witnesses

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.

RELATED: Defense wants phone records, other evidence out of murder trial

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.

RELATED: Judges’ rulings touch on Sixth, First Amendment issues

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.

RELATED: Ruling allows victim’s remains in court before trial

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.”

RELATED: Judge restricts media access in Kettering homicide case

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.

RELATED: How Kettering 17-year-old came to be tried as adult

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: Judge sets $1 million bond for teen charged in Kettering homicide

RELATED: Kettering teen indicted on adult charges in homicide of Fairmont student

RELATED: Teen accused in Kettering homicide seeks high-profile attorney

RELATED: Prosecutor seeks mandatory transfer to adult court

RELATED: Key points in homicide of Fairmont student

RELATED: 2 teens strike plea deal to testify in Kettering homicide

RELATED: Two teens sentenced for role in Kettering homicide of Fairmont student

RELATED: Judge uses broad options to detain defendants

RELATED: Kettering shooting victim’s mother calls son hero

RELATED: Match found for Ronnie Bowers organs

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Lyrid meteor shower 2018: 8 stunning photos of the celestial display

Published: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 8:25 AM

The milky way and traces of meteors illuminate the sky over Burg on the Baltic Sea island of Fehmarn, northern Germany, Friday, April 20, 2018, during the Lyrid meteor shower. (Daniel Reinhardt/dpa via AP)
Daniel Reinhardt/AP
The milky way and traces of meteors illuminate the sky over Burg on the Baltic Sea island of Fehmarn, northern Germany, Friday, April 20, 2018, during the Lyrid meteor shower. (Daniel Reinhardt/dpa via AP)(Daniel Reinhardt/AP)

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.

See the images below:

>> MORE: Lyrid meteor shower 2018: When, where and how to watch | More trending news 

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