5 uplifting stories: Miami University grads ink multi-million deal, 20 years of Neal’s Famous BBQ and more

Here is a look at five positive Butler County stories that were in the news this week.


TV ‘Shark Tank’ competitors who are Miami University grads ink multi-million deal

The skyrocketing careers of two Miami University business graduates — who landed a half-million dollar investor last year on TV’s “Shark Tank” — has now seen them ink a multi-million deal to take their tattoo skin care product across America.

The new business partnership is propelling the Miami grads to even higher success than they ever imagined when they were college roommates living in a modest apartment next to the Oxford campus.

For Oliver Zak and Selom Agbitor, Class of 2019 finance majors, it’s a stressful time — but it’s the good kind of stress, they told the Journal-News.

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Neal’s Famous BBQ celebrates the journey from $10 and a dream

Editor’s note: This article is provided by The Hamiltonian magazine and first appeared as justhamilton.com.

HAMILTON — 20 years ago, Michael Neal set up his first sandwich stand selling a family staple: barbecue sandwiches. He’d learned how to make barbecue sauce and slow-cook meat to perfection from his father.

“My Dad is from the South, Alabama, so we have Southern Alabama dishes, barbecue with homemade sides. We grew up farming, planting our own vegetables. We have Southern roots,” Neal said.

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Linden Theater in Hamilton sparks interest from Revivalists frontman David Shaw

Hamilton native David Shaw, leader of New Orleans-based adult alternative rock band the Revivalists, has shown interest in transforming the Lindenwald neighorhood’s former Linden Theater, later renamed the Grand, into an music entertainment venue.

City Manager Joshua Smith told Lindenwald’s neighborhood organization, PROTOCOL, Shaw recently visited Hamilton with promoters who consulted with city officials regarding the former theater and how it could be converted into an entertainment venue.

Frank Downie, leader of PROTOCOL (People Reaching Out To Others; Celebrate Our Lindenwald), said that news came during a virtual gathering the group held this month.

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Selfie Scene business features 20 vignettes for taking fun photos

Credit: Staff

Credit: Staff

Sometimes, taking a quality selfie isn’t as easy as “saying cheese.”

There are businesses dedicated to making selfie-taking a fun outing and entertainment option for friends of all ages, and that’s exactly what the Selfie Scene in Washington Twp. (Montgomery County) has set out to do.

Last month, friends of 25 years, Matthew Gwin and James Kavanaugh, Jr., opened Selfie Scene, located at 580 Miamisburg Centerville Rd. The business partners were fraternity brothers at Bowling Green State University and are alums of Archbishop Alter High School in Dayton.

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McCrabb: New senior center director traveled from Reno to Middletown; ‘all the pieces came together’

When members of Central Connections, Middletown’s senior center, meet Diane Rodgers, they always ask where she lived and worked before.

“Reno, Nevada,” she tells them.

That’s when they reach to adjust their hearing aids.

Rodgers, who oversaw a senior center and worked with the homeless population in Reno, was interested in moving from the West Coast to be closer to her daughter, Naomi Smith, 22, a recent Seton Hall graduate who lives in New York.

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AND, for an extra sixth story of the day ...

Lakota West defensive back receives scholarship offers from Ohio State, Notre Dame

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Lakota West defensive back Malik Hartford was among a wave of players in the class of 2023 to receive an Ohio State over the past week.

A four-star “athlete” prospect who had 58 tackles for the Firebirds last season, Hartford is the No. 4 prospect in the state and No. 217 in the nation in 247Sports Composite rankings.

The 6-3, 180-pounder also had two interceptions and caught a 49-yard pass as his team went 11-2 and advanced to the regional finals in Division I.

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