The following is an article that appeared in the Journal-News on Saturday, November 19, 2016. Photograph also by Journal-News.
Butler County celebrates National Adoption Day.
- It was organized chaos at the Butler County historic courthouse Saturday morning as 22 children, all shapes and sizes, ginned from ear to ear while their parents adopted them.
Each year on National Adoption Day Probate Judge Randy Rogers — this year he tag-teamed the cases with Magistrate Heather Cady — presides over the most important day in a foster kid’s life.
Richard and Christina Bennett of Liberty Twp. adopted three children — Isaiah, 9, William, 8 and Abigail, 6. That brings their brood up to eight Bennetts and another foster child; plus they were headed later in the day to the hospital to pick up a foster baby, a two-month-old boy. A couple of former foster kids were also in attendance.
“You either complain about the world or you do something about it,” the dad said. “I choose to do something about it.”
This was the second largest group of adoptions the judge has ever done at one time — last year there were 24 on National Adoption Day — and this year is projected to tie last year with the largest total number of adoptions seen in recent years at 83.
Children Services Adoption Supervisor Theresa Cooper said there were 56 adoptions in 2014 and 51 the year before. She said another phenomenon beginning to look like a trend is the number of sibling groups foster parents are adopting. This year one family adopted four siblings, two families welcoming three siblings each and two others adopted two siblings.
She said all adoptive parents are special and the Bennett family in particular is “amazing.”
“They brought in three kids into their world, three kids that they are not related to, they didn’t know before,” she said. “I feel like the Bennetts are amazing. They take these kids in who have experienced trauma, their world has been flipped upside down, they didn’t cause all these problems in their lives. But then Mr. and Mrs. Bennett bring them in, and just love on them, give them structure and provide them a world that is safe.”
Christina Bennett said they have four biological children, four adopted kids, two fosters and two former foster who like to hang out at the Bennett house. She said it just works.
“I guess our attitudes are always, ‘You walk into the house, you’re ours,’ ” she said. “I think it helps break down the divisions that could occur between bio and foster and adopted. If we are somewhere and I say it’s time to go, I say, ‘Bennett kids, it’s time to go.’ ”
The Bennetts have a 3,000-square-foot home with four bedrooms on the second floor. They turned the dining room into sleeping quarters and there is another bedroom in the basement. With the latest additions to family, she said her husband will be building a new kitchen table. She called him a jack of all trades. He is also a children’s pastor.
Cooper said adoptive parents can get financial support to take care of their new additions. Some take nothing, the norm would be in the $300 to $350 a month range, but the stipend is higher if the child has special needs.
When the judge asked, “You kids want to get adopted today?” all three gave an enthusiastic “Yea!”
Bill Morrison, director of Children Services, echoed Cooper’s sentiments about the Bennett brood.
“The Bennetts are like the most amazing people I have ever met in my life,” he said. “In addition to being foster and adoptive parents, it’s their relationship with Lindenwald Baptist Church that allows us to have the foster parent conference there and host other meetings. They just provide a wealth of resources to the agency.”
Citation: Callahan, Denise G. "Butler County Adoption Day Brings Smiles." Journal-news. Journal-news, 19 Nov. 2016. Web. 22 Nov. 2016.
Cardboard regatta keeps sailing at VOA MetroPark
The following is an article that appeared in the Journal-News on Saturday, July 16, 2016. Photograph by Greg Lynch.
WEST CHESTER TWP. —
Lynette Dean, program manager, one boat managed to get around the course on a section of the 35-acre lake in 1 minute and 15 seconds, and the fastest to sink went under in less than a second.
The boats that survived throughout the competition also had an opportunity to participate in the Soggy Bottom event, sort of an aquatic demolition derby that continued until the last boat was sunk. The boat named “Jaws” won the finale.
“This is our second year and it’s a blast,” said Marc Schnetzer of Mason. Schnetzer and Ian Mould of West Chester Twp. built a boat that looked like and appropriately named “Chili Dog.”
Mould said he boat lasted about 10 minutes. While its time afloat was short, it did catch the eyes of the judges as it won the Judges’ Choice award.
“We’ll try a different form of construction next year,” Mould said.
The Best of Show award went to “Quackers” that was built by a group of home-schoolers from the west side of Cincinnati.
The boat was designed as a large duck with seating for four and managed to win its first heat.
Madelyn Schneider, 12, said they built it “to have fun and race our boat.”
The four youths and parents said it took about two weeks to construct their boat using standard cardboard, wood glue, paint and duct tape. After the competition, the boat was still fairly ship-shape.
While it was the first year for the four youths, Randy Schneider said it was the adults’ third year. “We hope to patch it up and take down the river,” he said.
The crew and family gave a very loud cheer when it was announced they won the Best of Show award.
After the event or after the boats were sunk, Butler County Marine Patrol deputies and MetroParks rangers in boats helped to drag what was left of the boats to the dock. Pulling the soaked cardboard out of the water was a crew of MetroParks employees. “It’s not too bad,” said Brian Newman as he pulled another soggy cardboard out of the water.
Jonathan Granville, MetroParks executive director, said there was more effort at waterproofing which helped the boats stay afloat longer. While some crews spent a few weeks building their boats, there were some that were built the night before.
Butler County Probate Judge Randy Rogers arrived late to the regatta as he was hosting an international dignitary, Alfred Nevhutanda, who is the chairman of the South Africa Lottery, and was visiting Hamilton on his first trip to the U.S.
An advisor to many members of the South African government and its president, Rogers said his guest was a personal friend of Nelson Mandela, the late South African president. Before leaving Hamilton to come to the regatta, he had a telephone conversation with Winnie Mandela. He also received some bottled water from Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller.
But they did catch the last part of the demolition derby on the water.
“I didn’t make it here on time so I missed judging the event,” Rogers said. “It’s a great event… The best part every year is the demolition derby.”
While there are various competitions to raise money for charity, Nevhutanda said he had never seen anything quite like the regatta.
Nevhutanda said watching the regatta was “a learning experience and a good way to teach youths how to boat.” He said he’s going to encourage various charities to stage a similar competition such as the regatta.
“It’s a very good event,” he said. “It’s something to build the nation. If you neglect the young people, you neglect the future.”
Citation: Richter, Ed. "Cardboard Regatta Keeps Sailing at VOA MetroPark in West Chester." Journal-News. Journal-News, 16 July 2016. Web. 18 July 2016.
Symposium Provides County Leaders with Tools
to Help People with Untreated Mental Illness
e-Update April 2016
Judges, sheriffs, mental health professionals and advocates from more than 30 Ohio counties attended the Developing an Effective Court Ordered Outpatient Treatment Program in Your County symposium in Columbus on April 21 to learn how they can collaborate to assist people with untreated serious mental illness stay out of hospitals and jails.
Former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton served as emcee. Attendees heard from State Sen. Dave Burke (R-Marysville), who sponsored Senate Bill 43, legislation that firms up the ability of Probate Court judges to order individuals with a history of dangerousness to self or others into outpatient treatment under certain circumstances.
Bexar County, Texas Probate Court Judge Oscar Kazen, who has presided over an assisted outpatient
treatment court program for many years, shared lessons learned from the bench.
Panels of experts from Butler and Summit counties, which have also had effective programs in place for many years, shared their success stories.
OhioMHAS Dir. Tracy Plouck also spoke, providing an update on upcoming changes to the state’s
Medicaid program as part of Ohio’s behavioral health redesign initiative.
Funding was provided by the Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation.
Citation: Plouck, Tracy J. "Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services News EUpdates." Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services News EUpdates. Mental Health Addiction Services, Apr. 2016. Web. 27 Apr. 2016
Exclusive: Judge helps dream come true for West Chester family
Man battling leukemia couldn't make it to court to adopt stepdaughter
The following is an exceprt from an article that appeared on Cincinnati's WLWT5 on Friday, November 6, 2015. To read the article in full or view the video, click here. Story by Karin Johnson.
When a father battling leukemia couldn't make it to court to adopt his stepdaughter, the judge decided to go to them...
"'We've been wanting to do this for so long, and we're doing it. All of a sudden, here I am again, in the hospital, sick,' Rob Maines said. 'It was somewhat heartbreaking.'...
"But when Butler County Probate Judge Randy Rogers heard the story, he had no problem coming to them...
"'I think it's part of what we do, and I think it's part of the service we want to provide. It makes me feel good that I can give them, grant a wish,' said Rogers. 'I know why I'm here, and you can see it. I know you can see it in their eyes, and when you can see it in their eyes, especially the mom, it has its own reward.'..."
Citation: Johnson, Karin. "Exclusive: Judge Helps Dream Come True for West Chester Family." WLWT. WLWT5, 6 Nov. 2015.Web. 09 Nov. 2015.
Bug problem uncovers 126-year-old treasure in Butler County building
"The plan is to finish sanding out the hardwood floors and apply stain over them, instead of re-covering them with carpet.
“'We all decided in the long run you can put a 15-year carpet down or you can redo these floors and they’ll last for another 50-plus years,' said Randy Quisenberry, the county’s asset director. 'Plus it’ll be a distinguished section of that 125 year-old courthouse, one that presents itself in a historic manner.'
"While Quisenberry doesn’t have an estimate for refurbishing the floors, he said the carpet for only one area was going to be about $9,000."
Citation: Callahan, Denise G. "Bug Problem Uncovers 126-year-old Treasure in Butler County..." Journal-News. Journal-News, 1 Sept. 2015. Web. 02 Sept. 2015.
Butler County program leading way in guardianship overhaul
The following is an exceprt from an article that appeared in the Journal-News on Thursday, August 20, 2015. To read the article in full, click here. Photographs by Nick Graham.
"Becky DeLong sat across from Shashi and Aruna Anandpura and asked the question every parent dreads even thinking about: what happens to your child if you die before they are raised?
New Rules For Ohio Guardians
On March 10, 2015, the Supreme Court of Ohio announced the adoption of Rules of Superintendence for the Courts of Ohio 66.01 - 66.09. The new rules, recommended by the Advisory Committee on Children and Families of the Supreme Court, will govern adult guardianships in Ohio. The rules went into effect on June 1, 2015, and changed Ohio's adult guardianship practice.
The rules seek to standardize guardianship practices throughout Ohio by establishing clear minimum standards and responsibilities for probate courts and guardians. The new rules cover a wide breadth of topics, including person-center planning, guardian compensation, and complaint process, amongst other critical topics to ensure the best interest of persons under guardianship. Because knowledgeable and educated guardians are a cornerstone of Ohio's adult guardianship system, the new rules also set forth specific education requirements intended to ensure guardians have a clear understanding of a guardian's ongoing duties and responsibilities to the court and Ohio's adult wards.
Pursuant to Superintendence Rule 66.06, as of June 1, 2015, court-appointed guardians will be required to take a one-time six-hour course on the fundamentals of adult guardianship. The Rule distinguishes between new guardianship appointments (made after June 1, 2015) and individuals serving as guardians as of June 1, 2015.
- Guardians appointed after June l, 2015, with no experience as a guardian within the five previous years, will have six months from the date of the appointment to complete the fundamentals course.
- Guardians serving on June l, 2015, or individuals who have served as a guardian during the five previous years, will have until ]une1, 2016, to complete the fundamentals course.
Additionally, Superintendence Rule 66.07 delineates requirements for a three-hour continuing education course every calendar year after completing the initial fundamentals course. The rule also directs guardians to inform and document compliance with the education requirements to the court in which they practice. Guardians who do not complete the education requirements will be ineligible for new adult guardianship appointments.
To assist guardians in meeting the education requirements and gain full understanding about the expectation laid-out in the rules, the Supreme Court of Ohio Judicial College is offering the six-hour fundamentals course in three forms. Three-hour continuing education course will be available beginning in the first quarter of 2016. The live courses will be provided free of charge, delivered regionally and monthly. Current information on course dates, locations, and registration can be found at the following link:
Continuing education credits (CLE) will be requested for each course developed by the Judicial College. Adult guardianship education may also be provided by another entity, with approval from the local probate court. In Butler County, those alternative education opportunities are in the process of being developed, and more information will be made available shortly. Any questions in this area may be emailed to ProbateCourt@butlercountyohio.org.
In addition to the education requirements, Superintendence Rule 66.05 requires the courts to conduct, or cause to be conducted, a criminal background check on each applicant to serve as a guardian of an adult ward. Probate courts may accept certificates of good standing with disciplinary information issued by the Supreme Court from attorneys in lieu of the background check. The Ohio Supreme Court hopes that these new rules will promote uniformity and consistency in guardianship practices state-wide.
Keep up with News on the Historic Courthouse Steps
April 7, 2015 - "New steps may prompt more renovations at historic building"
||The following is an excerpt from an article that appeared in the Journal-News on Tuesday, April 7, 2015. To read the article in full, click here. Photograph by Greg Lynch.
"There are a few clean-up and sealing activities still to be done but the railing went up last week and the steps have been declared done, according to Randy Quisenberry, the county’s asset, purchasing and project director...
"Replacing the steps is not the only work that is needed on the $30 million asset. The judge said overall it will cost almost $1 million to fully restore the courthouse. The estimate for installing new steps all around the building was about $200,000. Shoring up the flaking sandstone facade is another $200,000, and eventually, a new roof will be needed, with a price tag of about $500,000...
"The historic courthouse will still be standing when the Government Services Center is torn down, according to Rogers, because they just don’t build buildings like they did in the 1800s anymore. Quoting the now deceased Ohio Chief Justice Tom Moyer, Rogers said it is fitting that courthouses be so majestic."
Citation: Callahan, Denise G. "New Steps May Prompt More Renovations at Historic Building." Journal-News. Journal-News, 07 Apr. 2015. Web. 08 Apr. 2015.
January 29, 2015 - "should be complete before Valentine's Day"
“We have steps … almost,” reports Butler County Probate Judge Randy Rogers. Work on the current l North Steps reconstruction project at the historic Butler County Courthouse began last fall, but weather and other unforeseen circumstances delayed completion of the project. The venerable Butler County Courthouse opened in 1889 and has survived a deadly fire, a devastating flood, and an improbable hurricane. The Courthouse was added to the Natural Register of Historic Places in 1981. This extraordinary building remains the home of the Butler County Probate Court, and also houses the Butler County Area II Court.
The cost to restore the steps on the High Street side of the Courthouse is $91,994, and Coon Restoration and Sealants, Inc. and Lithko Contracting, Inc. are doing the work. With good weather the project should be complete before Valentine’s Day, which will warm the hearts of those who value this durable symbol of local government.
"Historic courthouse steps back on track"
The following is an excerpt from an article that appeared in the Journal-News on Tuesday, January 6, 2015. To read the article in full, click here. Photograph by Greg Lynch.
"The new target for completion of the step restoration at the historic courthouse in Hamilton is now two weeks... 'We will see great progress on the steps now, weather permitting.'"
Citation: Callahan, Denise G. "Historic Courthouse Steps Back on Track." Historic Courthouse Steps Back on Track. Journal-News, 06 Jan. 2015. Web. 09 Jan. 2015.
"Courthouse steps project falls behind schedule"
The following is an excerpt from an article that appeared in the Journal-News on Sunday, December 21, 2014. To read the article in full, click here. Photograph by Greg Lynch.
"Butler County Probate Judge Randy Rogers planned to place a giant red bow on the newly renovated historic courthouse steps, which were supposed to be ready for Christmas, but he won’t be untying it for at least a couple more weeks."
Citation: Callahan, Denise G. "Courthouse Steps Project Falls behind Schedule." Journal-News. Journal-News, 21 Dec. 2014. Web. 12 Jan. 2015.
"Historic courthouse step reconstruction is here"
The following is an excerpt from an article that appeared in the Journal-News on Sunday, September 21, 2014. To read the article in full, click here. Photograph by Greg Lynch.
"The entrance to the courthouse will remain on the west side of the building because handicapped access is required. Quisenberry said they hope the new steps construction will bring renewed interest in the icon that needs much more work.
“'We feel it will generate momentum,' he said. 'That we are advancing the cause of preserving this signature building in downtown Hamilton and the county. We think the High Street steps are the obvious first step in creating awareness that the building does need attention.'”
Citation: Callahan, Denise G. "Historic Courthouse Step Reconstruction Is Here." Journal-News. Journal-News, 21 Sept. 2014. Web. 12 Jan. 2015.
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