5 uplifting stories this week: Baby New Year, new store Of The Witches Cauldron and more

Sally Hathaway has opened Of the Witches Cauldron Apothecary on Winton Road in Fairfield. Hathaway makes natural center candles, soaps and bath salts and has many other locally sourced items from other people. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

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Sally Hathaway has opened Of the Witches Cauldron Apothecary on Winton Road in Fairfield. Hathaway makes natural center candles, soaps and bath salts and has many other locally sourced items from other people. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

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


Baby may be first of new year in Butler County

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Jenna Winston Smith was Mercy Health - Fairfield Hospital’s first baby of 2022. She was born at 6:29 a.m. to mom Phany Tith and dad Raydon Smith. CONTRIBUTED

Jenna Winston Smith was Mercy Health - Fairfield Hospital’s first baby of 2022. She was born at 6:29 a.m. to mom Phany Tith and dad Raydon Smith. CONTRIBUTED

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Jenna Winston Smith was Mercy Health - Fairfield Hospital’s first baby of 2022. She was born at 6:29 a.m. to mom Phany Tith and dad Raydon Smith. CONTRIBUTED

Jenna Winston Smith was born at 6:29 a.m. Jan. 1 at Mercy Health - Fairfield Hospital, apparently the first-born child in Butler County, according to checks with area hospitals.

Weighing in at 7 pounds, 13 ounces, she is the third child of mother Phany Tith of Liberty Twp., who has two teen daughters, and dad Raydon Smith of Mount Healthy, who became a first-time father.

Smith, 34, said he was simply looking forward to her arrival, and didn’t care whether that happened in 2021 or 2022. But the birth prompted him to make a permanent resolution in the new year: “A lot of my choices in life have to change,” he said. “I have to focus on her, to try to be the best father I can be.”

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Local youth socks drive also focused on need for clothes, toiletries

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Monique Runzer is collecting socks for her Socks for Hamilton Youth program. This is her third year and is on her way to collecting 2000 pairs of socks to give to local youth in need. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Monique Runzer is collecting socks for her Socks for Hamilton Youth program. This is her third year and is on her way to collecting 2000 pairs of socks to give to local youth in need. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

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Monique Runzer is collecting socks for her Socks for Hamilton Youth program. This is her third year and is on her way to collecting 2000 pairs of socks to give to local youth in need. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

HAMILTON —Monique Runzer didn’t meet her original goal of gathering 2,000 socks for Hamilton children this year. But that was because she shifted her focus to collecting other things that The Caring Closet needed at least as much.

Runzer’s third annual “Socks for Hamilton OH Youth” sock drive helped The Caring Closet, which distributes clothing and other needed items to children in the city. She changed her plans from focusing on socks after asking the charity what else was needed and learning other items, including soap and toothpaste, would be helpful.

This year’s sock collection reaped “close to 1,500 pairs of socks” from contributors, including about 500 pairs of “really nice socks” from Hype Socks in Columbus, which manufactures sports footwear.

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Apothecary opens amid ‘unparalleled’ year of small business applications

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Sally Hathaway has opened Of the Witches Cauldron Apothecary on Winton Road in Fairfield. Hathaway makes natural cented candles, soaps and bath salts and has many other locally sourced items from other people. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Sally Hathaway has opened Of the Witches Cauldron Apothecary on Winton Road in Fairfield. Hathaway makes natural cented candles, soaps and bath salts and has many other locally sourced items from other people. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Combined ShapeCaption
Sally Hathaway has opened Of the Witches Cauldron Apothecary on Winton Road in Fairfield. Hathaway makes natural cented candles, soaps and bath salts and has many other locally sourced items from other people. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

A new business in Fairfield was manifested by its owner after she was laid off early on during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sally Hathaway took what started out as “making fun stuff at home” with her youngest daughter ― like body soaps and candles ― turned it into an online Etsy business called Of The Witches Cauldron. And then a brick-and-motor shop when space at 4952 Winton Road opened up on Oct. 1. It was something she “always wanted” because she “wanted to see people, talk to people, not just be online.”

“That first year (online), I couldn’t keep up with the gift baskets and the candles,” said the former information technology project manager, who was like one of the millions of people in the country laid off early on in the pandemic. “When this space became available and I was still looking for a job, I thought, ‘Okay, let’s go for it.’”

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3 Oxford citizens honored for years of work that supported community

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Bruce Murray, Valerie Elliott and Ann Whelpton are the Citizens of the Years in Oxford, recognized for the long years of service in their jobs that supported the community.

Credit: Submitted photo

Bruce Murray, Valerie Elliott and Ann Whelpton are the Citizens of the Years in Oxford, recognized for the long years of service in their jobs that supported the community.

Credit: Submitted photo

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Bruce Murray, Valerie Elliott and Ann Whelpton are the Citizens of the Years in Oxford, recognized for the long years of service in their jobs that supported the community.

Credit: Submitted photo

Credit: Submitted photo

OXFORD — Many who give of themselves for the good of the community or those in it, do so year in and year out, mostly quietly and behind the scenes. You might be hard-pressed to find any one thing that stands out as a major contribution in a given year, but taken together, those efforts add up to years, even decades, of doing good.

It is people like that who are considered for recognition as a Citizen of the Years. The long-term contributions to the community help others in myriad ways.

Three people were chosen for the Citizen of the Years award in 2021 for such long, dedicated service to others. This year honored trio are Valerie Elliott, Bruce Murray and Ann Whelpton.

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Lebanon’s Christmas for Tots program had successful year

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The Lebanon’s Christmas for Tots program enjoyed another successful year of “Keeping the Spirit of Christmas in Lebanon.” Their goal of providing toys to children in need in the Lebanon community was fulfilled by helping over 550 children with new gifts for Christmas. CONTRIBUTED

The Lebanon’s Christmas for Tots program enjoyed another successful year of “Keeping the Spirit of Christmas in Lebanon.” Their goal of providing toys to children in need in the Lebanon community was fulfilled by helping over 550 children with new gifts for Christmas. CONTRIBUTED

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The Lebanon’s Christmas for Tots program enjoyed another successful year of “Keeping the Spirit of Christmas in Lebanon.” Their goal of providing toys to children in need in the Lebanon community was fulfilled by helping over 550 children with new gifts for Christmas. CONTRIBUTED

Lebanon’s Christmas for Tots program enjoyed another successful year of “Keeping the Spirit of Christmas in Lebanon.” Their goal of providing toys to children in need in the Lebanon community was fulfilled by helping over 550 children with new gifts for Christmas.

The success of this organization is dependent upon the support they receive from the Lebanon community and the many volunteers who offer their time on the toy distribution day. Toy and monetary donations were received from businesses, area churches, private citizens, service clubs and civic organizations.

This worthy program has been a part of the community for over 53 years.

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

What will 2022 bring for Hamilton?

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A ground breaking ceremony was held for the Rossville Flats apartments and retail space Monday, Nov. 15, 2021 on Main Street in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

A ground breaking ceremony was held for the Rossville Flats apartments and retail space Monday, Nov. 15, 2021 on Main Street in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

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A ground breaking ceremony was held for the Rossville Flats apartments and retail space Monday, Nov. 15, 2021 on Main Street in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

During the spring of 2022, Hamilton’s most anticipated economic development in years, Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill, will open to become the country’s largest indoor sports complex, bringing 10,000 athletes and their families to the city on some weekends.

That will bring change. City Manager Joshua Smith and Dan Bates, the president and CEO of the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, both answered emailed questions from the Journal-News about what they foresee for 2022.

One thing they both see is two new hotels on their way by 2022-23, not including the 233-room one being built at the Spooky Nook sports complex and convention center. Here are their answers to some questions that were the same, others different:

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