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FACE COVERINGS TO BE REQUIRED TO ENTER COURTHOUSE

May 15, 2020 - Following directives from the Ohio Supreme Court, and with the collaboration of other courts and offices located in the Courthouse, Probate Judge Randy T. Rogers has issued a Supplemental COVID-19 Order that deals with entrance to the Historic Butler County Courthouse, and implements additional guidelines for those working and doing business in the Courthouse.

The updated Order provides, in part, that "anyone entering the Court premises will be subject to a health screen" and "all persons entering Court premises will be required to wear a face covering while in public areas."

Press Release:
Public Comment Requested for Governor Bebb MetroPark Preliminary Master Plan
MetroParks Logo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Submitted by:

Kelly J. Barkley, Supervisor, Community & Enterprise Initiatives
kbarkley@YourMetroParks.net
513-867-5835 (O)

Public Comment Requested for Governor Bebb MetroPark Preliminary Master Plan

Butler County, Ohio (September 28, 2020)

If you are a fan of Governor Bebb MetroPark or even if the name of the park is new to you, MetroParks would like you take a few moments to review the Governor Bebb MetroPark Preliminary Master Plan. The plan will provide some insight into the future vision for this park and the amenities it could provide for park customers/owners.

Governor Bebb MetroPark is located in Morgan Township at 1979 Bebb Park Lane, Okeana, Oh.

Governor Bebb MetroPark

You can view the entire Preliminary Master Plan and all of the potential enhancements envisioned for this park in the future by visiting MetroParks website then NEWS. There you will see a news post and link to a Google Form to view the plan and make your comments. If that isn’t convenient simply use the URL address below to access the form and make comments.

The Google Form URL address: https://forms.gle/n3e3WBrkLVKGHB4bA

Comments will be accepted from September 28, 2020 until October 31, 2020. Comments regarding the survey itself is also welcome. Thank you in advance for participating. They are Your MetroParks and Your opinion matters!

Press Release:
MetroParks Will Manage White-Tailed Deer Overpopulation with a Limited Bow Hunting Program
MetroParks Logo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Submitted by:

Kelly J. Barkley, Supervisor, Community & Enterprise Initiatives
kbarkley@YourMetroParks.net
513-867-5835 (O)

MetroParks Will Manage White-Tailed Deer Overpopulation with a Limited Bow Hunting Program this fall at The Day Family Farm and The Davidson Woods Property

Butler County, Ohio (8/31/20)

In an effort to manage the ever-growing population of white-tailed deer and mitigate the environmental, economic, and safety issues associated with deer overpopulation, MetroParks has announced that a Limited Bow Hunting Program will be offered during the 2020-2021 hunting season as a part of the park system’s Wildlife Management Program. Ohio’s Archery Season is September 26, 2020– February 7, 2021. MetroParks program will occur from October 1, 2020-February 7, 2021 and will be held at the Day Family Farm in Ross Township and the Davidson Woods Property in Hanover Township.

The program is based on direct evidence that the active farming of cash crops at The Day Family Farm has been impacted by the deer herd and controlling the numbers will help the farmer economically.

Additionally, at the Davidson Woods Property the heavily wooded area is close to State Rt. 177 as well as a populated residential area on the west side of Hamilton. Thinning out the population in this busy part of the county will lead to less deer strikes for motor vehicles.

White-tailed deer have no natural predators and the herd has grown tremendously within certain areas of the MetroParks. In addition to the factors listed above white-tailed deer serve as the primary host for the adult blacklegged tick, the vector for Lyme disease, it is important to take advantage of the upcoming hunting season to reduce the herd size. Research continues to show that reducing deer populations reduces tick abundance which reduces reported cases of Lyme disease.

Research has also shown a relationship between deer population density and deer-vehicle collisions.

Anyone who desires to participate in the hunt must submit an application to MetroParks Administrative Offices at 2051 Timberman Rd, Hamilton, OH 45013 no later than September 14th.

At this time the Administrative Office hours are Monday-Friday from 10 am until 2 pm. All applications delivered in person or postmarked by September 14, 2020 will be accepted. To be eligible, applicants must be 18 years old, have a valid Ohio hunting license, and meet other requirements. Applicants who meet the requirements will be required to pass a marksmanship qualification on September 19th and then be selected through a lottery drawing, which will be held on September 26th (if needed). The location of the qualification and lottery will be communicated to those who apply. MetroParks intends to select 24 participants for the hunting season. The complete program guidelines can be found in the policy for Wildlife Management Policy Controlled Bow Hunting Program on MetroParks website under Policies and Rules. The application can be found on the website under public forms. Both can also be obtained at MetroParks Administrative Offices.

MetroParks website address: www.YourMetroParks.net

Established to compliment the work of state and local communities, MetroParks, a separate political subdivision of The State of Ohio, is organized to provide parks and recreation services to the citizens of Butler County. MetroParks is governed by a three- member Board of volunteers, appointed by The County Probate Court, The Board of Park Commissioners. The Mission of MetroParks is to provide a superior park system that maximizes the community’s quality of life through conservation, education and recreation. For more information regarding MetroParks visit our website at www.YourMetroParks.net.

Press Release:
MetroParks of Butler County Works to Meet Increased Demand
MetroParks Logo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Submitted by:

Kelly J. Barkley, Supervisor, Community & Enterprise Initiatives
kbarkley@YourMetroParks.net
513-867-5835 (O)

MetroParks of Butler County Works to Meet Increased Demand

Butler County, Ohio (July 23rd, 2020)

The pandemic is still here, but lots of people are still visiting MetroParks more often because they have been cooped-up way too long. That said, it still seems like getting outside is the best option during a pandemic and lots of folks are taking advantage of that option. While doing so, they are learning more about what MetroParks is all about as they enjoy the greenspace the park system protects, observe nature, and explore trails.

Bottom line, people want greenspace now more than ever. The good news is MetroParks of Butler County is where you can find that greenspace.

In most of the parks that MetroParks owns and/or manages, traffic counters tell us we are seeing an increase of about 50% in the number of visitor occurrences as compared to the same time last year. Please keep in mind some of our traffic counters are newer and still cannot provide us with accurate year to year comparisons, but the numbers we are seeing are trending that way. No matter how you count it, that is a lot more people in the parks.

With the increase in park visitation the park system needs more operational support to keep the wheels turning and keep up with the basic things that park customer/owners are asking for when they visit.

They are asking for the re-opening of modern restrooms, re-opening of drinking fountains, more frequent trail maintenance, and the returned ability for shelter rentals. Also, in one frequently visited park, an earlier park opening time was requested during the “dog days of summer” to walk and hike in the morning when it is cooler.

To the best of our ability we have looked at things from every angle to determine how we can still strategically operate like a business and still make certain that the dollars we spend as an organization benefit the greatest number of people who pay for the parks. After looking hard enough we found a way.

To that end, beginning August 1, 2019 MetroParks will be working to increase operational efforts to address the increased needs that we have seen.

  • Several furloughed Operations Team Members will return to work, July 27, 2020, to assist in delivering exceptional park experiences, including enhanced cleaning regimes (in compliance with COVID-19 standards) for restrooms and drinking fountains and to focus efforts on trail maintenance tasks.
  • On August 1, 2020
    • Shelters will again be available for rental, by calling 513-867-5835, for groups of 10 or less.
    • All modern restrooms will re-open.
    • All drinking fountains will be re-opened, including the water that is accessible at the dog park, “Wiggly Field”, at Voice of America MetroPark.
    • Beginning August 1 through August 31, 2020 -Rentschler Forest MetroPark, Reigart Rd. Area, located at 5701 Reigart Road will open at 7:00 am and close at dark for early morning walkers needing to avoid the heat of the day. Beginning September 1st, the regular opening and closing hours will return. Regular hours are from 8:00 am – dark.

The MetroParks team members hope our efforts make your park experience more enjoyable!

Be safe, stay well-
Log Off -Shut Down -Get Outside !

MetroParks locations require a Motor Vehicle Permit (MVP); non-resident permits will be available for purchase ($5-day pass/$10 annual pass) and FREE 2019-2020 resident permits will be available at the event entrance. MVPs can also be purchased on MetroParks of Butler County website www.YourMetroParks.net. Information on volunteering, sponsoring, and events/programs can also be found online. For more information, call MetroParks at 513-867-5835.

Established to compliment the work of state and local communities, MetroParks, a separate political subdivision of The State of Ohio, is organized to provide parks and recreation services to the citizens of Butler County. MetroParks is governed by a three- member Board of volunteers, appointed by The County Probate Court, The Board of Park Commissioners. The Mission of MetroParks is to provide a superior park system that maximizes the community’s quality of life through conservation, education and recreation. For more information regarding MetroParks visit our website at www.YourMetroParks.net.

Press Release:
MetroParks of Butler County Receives Special Award for Environmental/Conservation Efforts at Elk Creek MetroPark - Meadow Ridge Area from NACPRO
MetroParks Picture

Butler County, Ohio (August 21, 2020) - "MetroParks is pleased to announce that it has been honored with a national Environmental/Conservation Special Award by the National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials (NACPRO) for the park system's efforts at Elk Creek MetroPark -Meadow Ridge Area, located in Madison, Township, OH.

"NACPRO is comprised of 110+ member parks across the United States. The annual awards program recognizes and honors excellence in parks and recreation at the county, regional, and special district level throughout the nation. The special award for Environmental/Conservation is presented to recognize an exceptional effort to acquire, restore, preserve, operate, or develop unique or significant conservation and natural areas or programs."

To read the full press release, click here.

Ohio Supreme Court Action Tolling Time Requirements

April 2, 2020 - "The time requirements imposed by the rules of the Court and set to expire during the term of this order shall be tolled," according to an Administrative Action taken by the Ohio Supreme Court on March 27, 2020. In the same Administrative Action, the Court stated that "[a]ny requirement in a rule of the Court that a party appear in person or requiring in-person service may be waived by the Court, local court, hearing panel, board, or commission, as applicable. Appearance or service by use of technology may be allowed if it sufficiently guarantees the integrity of the proceedings and protects the parties’ interests and rights."

Prior to this Administrative Action, Butler County Probate Court Judge and Magistrates Heather Cady and Patricia Hider had begun issuing orders converting previously scheduled in-person hearings to telephone and/or teleconference hearings. The Probate Court has been primarily utilizing Cisco's Webex Meeting platform for teleconferences, and encourages attorneys to familiarize themselves with that platform. Since March 25, Judge Rogers and the Court's Magistrates have been conducting daily noontime teleconference meetings with area probate attorneys, as the local bar and the Court work through process issues created by the COVID -19 Emergency. "Since 1889, the Butler County Probate Court has conducted its business in the Historic Butler County Courthouse, and the Court has survived a devastating flood and a deadly fire. We will get through this as well." stated Judge Rogers, as he prepared for his next hearing.

Click here to read full Supreme Court of Ohio COVID-19 Tolling Order

The Probate Court Keeps Going

March 27, 2020 - "As the coronavirus emergency continues to impact the operation of the Ohio judicial system, I continue to work closely with the Governor's Office, the Ohio Judicial Conference and others...," stated Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor in a letter emailed to many of Ohio's judges yesterday. "You will receive additional guidance tomorrow after our Governor signs recently passed legislation and it becomes law. In that communication, the Supreme Court will share an order which will toll the time requirements that have been established by all Supreme Court promulgated rules..."

"The Butler County Probate Court continues to operate in all of the Court's many functions," stated Probate Judge Randy T. Rogers. "Hearings have continued to be held each day since the beginning of the Emergency, but we have taken steps to convert all hearings to telephonic or teleconference hearings whenever possible. Guardians have been appointed, children have been adopted, names have been changed, new estates have been opened and others closed, and civil actions have been filed. The Marriage Desk has issued more than 70 marriage licenses during the last two weeks. Documents continue to flow into the Probate Court and are being processed by the Court's Deputy Clerks daily."

Click here to read full Chief Justice Letter

Second Amendment To Local Rule Allowing Electronic Filing

March 26, 2020 - Probate Judge Randy T. Rogers announced today the adoption of an amended version of the recently modified Butler County Local Rule 75.1(D). To encourage the use of the expanded methods of electronic filing, the Judge has ordered that the additional fees, normally charged for filing by electronic means, will be waived during the period, begining March 24, 2020 and ending when the Emergency declared by the Governor's Executive Order 2020.01D ends, or July 30, 2020, whichever occurs earlier.

The Probate Court's new ProbFilings facsimile number is (513) 887-3625.

The Probate Court's new ProbFilings email address is Probfilings@butlercountyohio.org.

Other types of email communication with the Probate Court, which does not involve filings, may still be made at the email address, ProbateCourt@butlercountyohio.org.

Click here to read full Amended Entry Amending Local Rule 75.1 (D)

PROBATE COURT RESPONSE
TO COVID-19 (CORONAVIRUS) PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS

March 16, 2020 - Probate Judge Randy T. Rogers has issued a Temporary Order in response to the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) public health crisis, modifying certain court procedures. The Court remains open and is receiving and processing filings, issuing marriage licenses (By Appointment ONLY), and conducting hearings. Public access for court purposes will be restricted to designated areas.

Click here to read full Temporary Order

'Now we are a forever family': Couple adopts 4 foster children in Butler County
Adopted Children

The following is an excerpt from an article that appeared in Journal-News on Monday, November 25, 2019.

by Michael D. Clark, Staff Writer

'For the past four years I have stopped next to each one of my sleeping children and prayed that I would never have to say goodbye to them," said a teary-eyed Haro while in the courtroom.

"'But now it's like an enormous weight being lifted off my shoulders. We are not a foster family and we are not a temporary family. Now we are a forever family. My prayers are answered.'"

... "Rogers has presided over the court for a quarter of a century, but he said the special-ness of adoptions never gets old.

"'I've presided over nearly 3,000 adoptions,' said Rogers, who let each of the four new Haro children strike the judge's gavel. 'The (children services) workers do such a great job and there is so much that goes into these cases. So what we see here is celebration day.'"

To read the full article, click here.

Citation: Clark, Michael D. “'Now We Are a Forever Family': Couple Adopts 4 Foster Children in Butler County.” Journal-News, Staff Writer, 26 Nov. 2019, www.journal-news.com/news/local/now-are-forever-family-butler-county-couple-adopts-foster-children/uJlGI894DbevuoznrDXqkK/.

PRESS RELEASE:
Liberty Township Resident Graduates from National Court Management Program
Magistrate Cady

COLUMBUS – Liberty Township resident Heather L. Cady was among 40 court administrators, clerks, chief probation officers and program managers from courts throughout Ohio to receive the Certified Court Manager credential from the Court Management Program (CMP).

Heather Cady is employed as a Court Administrator / Magistrate at Butler County Probate Court. The program was developed by the Institute for Court Management, the educational arm of the National Center for State Courts.

The graduation ceremony Aug. 23 recognized the 11th class of Ohio students to graduate from Level I of the national program – the only program of its kind in the United States. CMP is intended for court leaders interested in strengthening their management knowledge, skills and abilities. The program requires a three-year commitment and provides education in key areas of court administration. Completion provides graduates with a certified court manager credential."

Click here to read full article

Partners In Justice
Partners in Justice
“You are the face of the public official – the one many members of the public in the courts see. Much of the public opinion of the court is formed by the magistrates.”
- Patricia Hider, Butler County Probate Court

The following is an excerpt from an article that appeared in Court News Ohio on Monday, October 1, 2018..

"Magistrates accept pleas, handle hearings, conduct jury trials, and author decisions in courts throughout the state. Working with the judges who assign them to perform these duties, Ohio’s magistrates have become integral to the operation of the state’s justice system.

By Kathleen Maloney | October 1, 2018

The number of cases they handle can be hefty, and their days can be hard to predict. But Ohio’s magistrates convey a commitment to their courts and to their work, even when the volume sounds daunting.

On a recent Wednesday in Franklin County Municipal Court, Magistrate David Jump had 300 traffic cases scheduled, and 120 people appeared in court.

Some days in Montgomery County Juvenile Court, Magistrate Greg Scott said he’ll oversee 20-plus cases in the morning, and as many in the afternoon. Magistrate Michelle Edgar is likely to hear eight to 12 cases daily in the Fairfield County Juvenile and Probate Court.

When Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Judge Diane M. Palos was a magistrate, she handled temporary child support hearings. Judge Palos served as a magistrate – then called referees – for more than 20 years before she was appointed, and then elected in 2010, as a judge in the same court. In the 1980s, she said, 18 daily hearings were standard.

Patricia Hider, a Butler County Probate Court magistrate, described how her morning starts with a plan. Before court begins, she and her bailiff review the docket, talking through every case file. And then?

“Then we strap on our roller skates and get prepared for the unexpected,” she said.

People have had emotional meltdowns in the courthouse rotunda. Or, eight or nine family members will show up unexpectedly for a case, said Hider, who works on such issues as contested guardianships, name changes, and adult neglect and abuse cases. Those entering the courtroom typically haven’t done anything bad, she said. Instead, the people she sees regularly are family members who can’t make medical decisions and are trying to make their way through the process. Empathy is essential for helping the people who appear in court, Hider noted.

“If they were able to solve their own problems, they wouldn’t be in front of stranger,” she explained."

To continue reading this article, click here.

Citation: Maloney, Kathleen. “Partners in Justice.” Court News Ohio, 1 Oct. 2018, www.courtnewsohio.gov/inDepth/2018/magistrates_100118.asp#.W9M0asKWxpg.

News Release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Submitted by:

Kelly J. Barkley, Supervisor, Community & Enterprise Initiatives
kbarkley@YourMetroParks.net
513-867-5835 (O)

ENJOY SOME OLD-FASHIONED FUN AT METROPARKS’ PIONEER LIFE NEXT WEEKEND!

Butler County, Ohio (June 29, 2020)

Join MetroParks of Butler County for a day of Pioneer Life at the Governor Bebb MetroPark’s Pioneer Village on Sunday, July 8th from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Experience what life was like as a pioneer back in the 1800’s. View the opened pioneer cabins, visit with live interpreters, see live animals, and enjoy some pioneer games and crafts, including candle making. Candle making will begin at 1 p.m. and again at 3 p.m. All activities are FREE. Governor Bebb MetroPark is located 1979 Bebb Park Lane, Okeana OH 45053

Cooking Demo
Cooking demonstration in Summer Kitchen at Governor Bebb MetroPark

Also experience for the first time ever at MetroParks, the Southern Singers, an intertribal Native American drum group as they perform various songs and dances throughout the day.

They will be representing Native American culture from the past to present day.

The Southern Singers will be providing this preview to introduce a new MetroParks Event scheduled at Governor Bebb MetroPark on Saturday, September 22, 2018. This event is the Great Miami River First Peoples Celebration which will celebrate even more of Butler County’s rich cultural history. During this celebration the Pioneer Village will again be open and all who come will experience first-hand the vibrant culture of Native Americans while embracing the opportunity to honor their traditions.

Southern Singers
Mark and JD Banks, members of the Southern Singers Native Drum

While the Pioneer Life activities are FREE to the public, a Motor Vehicle Permit will be required to enter the park; non-resident permits will be available for purchase ($5/daily pass or $10/ annual pass). Resident Motor Vehicle Permits are always FREE to Butler County Residents. Non- Resident Motor Vehicle Permits can also be purchased on MetroParks of Butler County website at www.YourMetroParks.net. Information on volunteering, sponsoring, and participating as a vendor at the event can also be found online. For more information, call MetroParks at 513-867-5835.

We look forward to seeing everyone at Pioneer Life July 8th and again on September 22nd for the Great Miami River First Peoples Celebration!

Established to compliment the work of state and local communities, MetroParks, a separate political subdivision of The State of Ohio, is organized to provide parks and recreation services to the citizens of Butler County. MetroParks is governed by a three- member Board of volunteers, appointed by The County Probate Court, The Board of Park Commissioners. The Mission of MetroParks is to provide a superior park system that maximizes the community’s quality of life through conservation, education and recreation. For more information regarding MetroParks visit our website at www.YourMetroParks.net.

News Release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Submitted by:

Kelly J. Barkley, Supervisor, Community & Enterprise Initiatives
kbarkley@YourMetroParks.net
513-867-5835 (O)

Butler County, Ohio (June 29, 2018) – NEW MEMBER OF METROPARKS BOARD OF PARK COMMISSIONERS APPOINTED TO FILL VACANCY

New Board Member
Judge Randy Rogers (left) congratulates Daryl Nelson (right) after swearing in Nelson as MetroParks of Butler County’s newest Board Member

Monday, June 25, 2018, Daryl Nelson, surrounded by his wife, Christy, and children, was sworn in as the newest member of MetroParks Board of Park Commissioners by Probate Court Judge Randy T. Rogers at Rentschler Forest MetroPark in Fairfield Township. Judge Rogers serves as the appointing authority for the volunteer three-member policy board of the park district.

Nelson was appointed by Judge Rogers to fill the unexpired 3-year term of Edward Dwyer, who recently resigned from the Board as he intends to move out of state. Nelson’s term of office will run through Dec 31, 2019.

Mr. Nelson brings to the Board of Park Commissioners the perspective of a business owner in Butler County and that of a frequent MetroParks visitor. He leads all aspects of his Chick-Fil-A restaurant franchise located at Bridgewater Falls, in Fairfield Township. Mr. Nelson holds a BS in Finance from The Pennsylvania State University with an emphasis in Accounting, Economics and Finance. He also holds a Master of Divinity Degree from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky with an emphasis on Leadership, Rhetoric and Theology.

Prior to becoming a franchise owner, he served as a Controller/CFO for Honeymoon Paper Products, Inc. and Affiliate Controller of Union Central Life Insurance Company. He is also well connected throughout Butler County via his involvement in numerous community activities and organizations.

Additionally, the Hanover Township and Millville Area resident is the owner of Nelson Farms where he raises Lowline Angus Beef Cattle.

When asked what his greatest joy is, he stated, “his family, his involvement with his children, and his foster children”. From 2006 to the present, he and his wife have served as Foster & Adoptive parents through Butler County Children Services.

While Mr. Dwyer’s contributions to MetroParks will be greatly missed after shepherding the organization through its most recent twelve years of success, Park customer/owners can rest assured that Mr. Nelson and his fellow park board members will focus on building upon what Mr. Dwyer had begun. Other members of the three-member volunteer board include Board President, Gregory T. Amend, of Liberty Township and Member, Cynamon Trokhan, of Hamilton.

Established to compliment the work of state and local communities, MetroParks, a separate political subdivision of The State of Ohio, is organized to provide parks and recreation services to the citizens of Butler County. MetroParks is governed by a three- member Board of volunteers, appointed by The County Probate Court, The Board of Park Commissioners. The Mission of MetroParks is to provide a superior park system that maximizes the community’s quality of life through conservation, education and recreation. For more information regarding MetroParks visit our website at www.YourMetroParks.net.

Butler County MetroParks adds 125 acres
Salamander Project

This photograph appeared in a Journal-News article on Monday, April 3, 2017. To read Butler County MetroParks adds 125 acres, click here.

Butler County Ohio is gaining 125.841 acres of additional park land. Probate Judge Randy T. Rogers recently approved a Donation Agreement between MetroParks of Butler County and Three Rivers Conservation Trust, the latest step in a series of actions involving federal, state, and local governments. Quoting former President Ronald Reagan, “our physical health, our social happiness, and our economic well-being will be sustained only by all of us working in partnership as thoughtful, effective stewards of our natural resources," Rogers also expressed his agreement with the words of former President Theodore Roosevelt, spoken a century ago: “The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired in value.”

Butler County adoption day brings smiles
2016 Adoption Day

This photograph appeared in a Journal-News article on Saturday, November 19, 2016.

Butler County celebrates National Adoption Day.

BUTLER COUNTY - It was organized chaos at the Butler County historic courthouse Saturday morning as 22 children, all shapes and sizes, grinned 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
2016 Adoption Day

The following is an article that appeared in the Journal-News on Saturday, July 16, 2016. Photograph by Greg Lynch.

WEST CHESTER TWP. —

They came, they sailed, they sunk. Or at least most of the 30 cardboard boats did that set sail Saturday at the Voice of America MetroPark lake.

Between 2,000 and 3,000 people attended the 5th Annual Crazy Cardboard Regatta sponsored by MetroParks of Butler County.

“This is a bigger crowd than we usually have,” said Cristy Carter-Trammell, parks connection supervisor.

The boats were in all sizes, colors and designs ranging from a large duck to one sporting the Stars and Stripes.

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
Judge Speaking

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.

"WEST CHESTER, Ohio —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
Floor Restoration

The following is an excerpt from an article that appeared in the Journal-News on Tuesday, September 1, 2015. To read the article in full, click here. Photograph by Greg Lynch.

"A bug problem in Butler County’s 125-year-old historic courthouse meant its old, threadbare carpet was recently torn up. Underneath, contractors found what is believed to be Rookwood Pottery tile and valuable 100-plus-year-old hardwood floors.

"Butler County Probate Judge Randy Rogers recently rented a sander and spent a Saturday helping to unearth the floors that have been hidden for years with carpeting.

“'I ended up with a guy that does work for me and we spent Saturday from 9 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. and this is what we found,' Rogers said, his arm outstretched over his hardwood handiwork. 'He believes this is long leaf sugar pine without any knots … it’s pretty valuable wood.'

"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
Guardian Overhaul Guardian Overhaul

The following is an excerpt 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?

"For the Anandpura family, the unthinkable could become more complicated because their daughter, Parul, has autism.

"'Let’s say you two were in a car accident, the judge is the superior guardian and so he would pull her file and read about her from the stuff you have sent in. But that would be it,' DeLong explained to the Anandpura family as they met at Safe Haven Farm in Madison Twp. The farm is home to 16 adults with autism.

"Changes at the state level now require all court-appointed guardians — lawyers and other professionals as well as family members and caregivers — be required to take training, whether they’re caring for an elderly person with dementia or a young adult with mental illness or developmental disabilities.

“'The goal is to provide uniformity and consistency to Ohio’s guardianship system by providing clear guidance for best practices,' said Christy Tull, director of the Ohio Supreme Court’s Judicial College.

"The court released the new minimum requirements in March, after years of study and a 2014 Columbus Dispatch investigation that revealed how the state’s patchwork of local rules had failed some of its most vulnerable residents.

"The meeting DeLong is having with the Anandpura family is one of more than 1,000 that will happen across the county as part of a program launched by Butler County Probate Judge Randy Rogers."

Citation: Callahan, Denise G. "Butler County Program Leading Way in Guardianship Overhaul." Journal-News. Journal-News, 20 Aug. 2015. Web. 02 Sept. 2015.

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:

http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/Boards/judCollege/adultGuardianship/default.asp

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"
Steps Completed

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"
Steps Judge

“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"
Court Steps

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"
Court Steps

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.

"Historic courthouse step reconstruction is here"
Reconstruction

TThe 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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