Afternoon catchup: 5 Butler County stories you need to know today

Log Cabin on C Street in Hamilton
Log Cabin on C Street in Hamilton

Here’s a look at five big Butler County stories today to catch up on the news:


Man arrested for starting fires in Hamilton park, parking garage

Fire caused damage at Marcum Park in Hamilton early Wednesday morning. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Fire caused damage at Marcum Park in Hamilton early Wednesday morning. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

A man is facing arson charges for allegedly starting fires in a Hamilton park and downtown parking garage on the same day, according to police.

Fires were set in the early morning hours of March 31 at Marcum Park on Dayton Street and on the third floor of McDulin Parking Garage on North Second Street, according to Hamilton police and fire reports.

Bryan Gibson, 24, was developed as a suspect in both intentionally set fires and taken into custody on the same afternoon. Gibson confessed to starting the two fires set during the early morning an hour apart. According to police, Gibson said he was “just trying to stay warm.”

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Defense wants to move trial again for man charged in West Chester quadruple homicide

Gurpreet Singh appears in court with interpreter
Gurpreet Singh appears in court with interpreter

At a hearing last month for a West Chester Twp. man charged with killing four members of his family in 2019, defense attorneys said travel restrictions and communication issues are taking a toll on their ability to adequately represent him.

They are now requesting a continuance of Gurpreet Singh’s trial scheduled to begin in October.

Singh, 38, is charged with four counts of aggravated murder for the April 28, 2019, homicides. With specifications of using a firearm and killing two or more persons, Singh faces the death penalty if convicted.

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‘A matter of freedom’: Butler County lawmaker proposes bill to prohibit ‘vaccine passports’

Lynn Hanck, right, from Mercy Health, gives a vaccine to Allison Horn. Mercy Health-Fairfield Hospital offered first-dose vaccinations at Jungle Jim's Oscar Event Center in Fairfield Tuesday, April 6, 2021, and will offer them from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 7, 2021. It's estimated 1,200 people, 600 on Tuesday and 600 on Wednesday, will receive the first-shot of the novel coronavirus vaccine. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
Lynn Hanck, right, from Mercy Health, gives a vaccine to Allison Horn. Mercy Health-Fairfield Hospital offered first-dose vaccinations at Jungle Jim's Oscar Event Center in Fairfield Tuesday, April 6, 2021, and will offer them from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 7, 2021. It's estimated 1,200 people, 600 on Tuesday and 600 on Wednesday, will receive the first-shot of the novel coronavirus vaccine. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

A Butler County state lawmaker introduced this week a bill she says would prohibit discrimination against people who choose not to be vaccinated, including with the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Vaccine Choice and Anti-Discrimination Act is “a matter of freedom,” said State Rep. Jennifer Gross, R-West Chester Twp. The bill is similar to some executive orders signed in other states, like Texas and Florida, that prohibit proof of vaccination through a so-called “vaccine passport,” which are records showing proof of a COVID-19 vaccination.

“Many people across the state may be likely to decline vaccines like the COVID-19 vaccine for conscientious, religious or medical reasons,” she said. “Without the exemption provisions this bill provides, the notion of a vaccine passport could easily lead to a class system in Ohio where segregation and discrimination will proliferate.”

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Lebanon considering new entertainment district to help restaurants

These are the proposed boundaries for a Community Entertainment District that the city of Lebanon expects to submit sometime in June. It will allow additional D-5J liquor permits in the district to help attract new restaurants to the city. CONTRIBUTED/CITY OF LEBANON
These are the proposed boundaries for a Community Entertainment District that the city of Lebanon expects to submit sometime in June. It will allow additional D-5J liquor permits in the district to help attract new restaurants to the city. CONTRIBUTED/CITY OF LEBANON

Lebanon is looking at creating a Community Entertainment District which would enable more restaurants and other establishments to sell beer, wine, and any liquor by the glass.

Jason Millard, city economic development director, said “a CED is a tool to help facilitate new restaurants and other similar establishments as part of larger scale development and redevelopment areas that include the types of uses outlined by the statute.”

Millard said CEDs are a bounded area that includes or will include a combination of entertainment, retail, educational, sporting, social, cultural, or arts establishments within close proximity to some or all of the following types of establishments within the district, or other types of establishments such as hotels, restaurants, retail shops, museums, theaters, etc.

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This time, Middletown Schools using billboards for positive messages

For the first time Middletown Schools are using billboards along Interstate 75 for thank you messaging ads and solicitations for kindergarten registration. The new strategy is the latest in a series of a higher-profile messages designed to boost community support of the city schools. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)
For the first time Middletown Schools are using billboards along Interstate 75 for thank you messaging ads and solicitations for kindergarten registration. The new strategy is the latest in a series of a higher-profile messages designed to boost community support of the city schools. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)

While the coronavirus has disrupted schools across the region, Middletown’s district has also used the pandemic to try out some more high-profile advertising and outreach messaging including most recently two billboards along a major highway.

Middletown Schools has used a billboard lease agreement with Atrium Medical Center to recently include advertisements for kindergarten registration.

The billboard is visible from southbound Interstate 75 near the Middletown and SR 122 exit.

And last month a parents’ organization at Creekview Elementary arranged for some donated electronic messaging to flash on a billboard for I-75 south-bound drivers near the Monroe and Ohio 63 praising their school building community.

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

Hamilton officials hope to salvage pieces of historic log cabin decimated by termites

The two-story log cabin dating to the 1800s that Hamilton officials hoped could be rehabbed into a residence has to be razed because of termite damage. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
The two-story log cabin dating to the 1800s that Hamilton officials hoped could be rehabbed into a residence has to be razed because of termite damage. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

The historic log cabin that Hamilton officials hoped could be restored as a home will have to be torn down because of termite damage.

But the city hopes to salvage timbers that aren’t damaged for use somewhere else.

Hamilton earlier this year asked people to submit proposals to redevelop the cabin, which likely dates to the 1800s. But when three city employees took a prospective developer to visit the structure at 223 and 225 S. C St., in the historic Rossville neighborhood, a city building official noticed termite damage.

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