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

Buses line up to pick up students at Middletown High School Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021. Schools around the area are facing a shortage of bus drivers. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
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Buses line up to pick up students at Middletown High School Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021. Schools around the area are facing a shortage of bus drivers. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

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


Empty driver seats: Area schools scramble to fill bus driver shortages

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Buses line up to pick up students at Middletown High School Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021. Schools around the area are facing a shortage of bus drivers. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Buses line up to pick up students at Middletown High School Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021. Schools around the area are facing a shortage of bus drivers. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
Caption
Buses line up to pick up students at Middletown High School Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021. Schools around the area are facing a shortage of bus drivers. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

All the extraordinary efforts to keep schools open during a global pandemic don’t mean much if students can’t get to campus, and increasingly local school officials say they are scrambling to find enough school bus drivers.

The difficulties in finding someone to take the driver’s seat are mirrored across Ohio ― and the nation.

The tough-to-fill driver jobs in even the best of times are now drawing markedly less interest with the accompanying health concerns and stresses accompanying recent upticks of the coronavirus delta variant.

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Koch Foods plans 400K-square-foot expansion, adding hundreds of new jobs in Fairfield

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Photo by Nick Daggy

Credit: HANDOUT

Photo by Nick Daggy
Caption
Photo by Nick Daggy

Credit: HANDOUT

Credit: HANDOUT

Fairfield’s largest industrial business plans create at least 400 new jobs as it plans to build a new 400,000-square-foot addition just north of its Port Union location, according to plans submitted to the city and Butler County.

The company will ask Fairfield City Council on Monday for a tax break on the project, according to city documents. The city is ready to offer Koch Foods at 4100 Port Union Road a 75 percent tax exemption for real property improvements over a 10-year period, according to the proposed tax deal with the city.

“Should this project proceed, the total building investment for the expansion is estimated at $140 million,” said Fairfield Economic Development Manager Nathaniel Kaelin in a staff report. “The company also estimates an investment of $80 million in new machinery and equipment.”

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Butler County officials nearing deal to help struggling Liberty Center

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STAFF PHOTO

STAFF PHOTO
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STAFF PHOTO

Butler County officials say they understand Liberty Center is struggling due to the pandemic, and a deal is in the works to possibly amend original agreements to ease the financial strain on the center, but they won’t give away the store.

The county commissioners and Liberty Twp. forged a complicated development deal with the original developer Columbus-based Steiner + Associates, that included $43 million in taxpayer-backed bonds and loans. There have been issues with the bond payments over the past couple years.

Apollo has asked the county to revisit the entire development deal, in light of current economic conditions. The county commissioners and township trustees have said they don’t want the center to fail and are willing to work with the center to prevent that.

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Middletown council divided about possible vaccine mandate

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Middletown City Council held its first meeting of 2018 on Tuesday. From left, Mayor Larry Mulligan, Vice Mayor Talbott Moon, Councilwoman Ami Vitori, Councilman Steve Bohannon, and Councilman Joe Mulligan. ED RICHTER/STAFF

Middletown City Council held its first meeting of 2018 on Tuesday. From left, Mayor Larry Mulligan, Vice Mayor Talbott Moon, Councilwoman Ami Vitori, Councilman Steve Bohannon, and Councilman Joe Mulligan. ED RICHTER/STAFF
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Middletown City Council held its first meeting of 2018 on Tuesday. From left, Mayor Larry Mulligan, Vice Mayor Talbott Moon, Councilwoman Ami Vitori, Councilman Steve Bohannon, and Councilman Joe Mulligan. ED RICHTER/STAFF

Middletown’s mayor said she’s considering writing legislation that would keep the city from mandating its employees get the COVID-19 vaccine, though there is no such mandate in the city.

For the last four months, Chris Batty, a Middletown resident, has expressed his desire for Middletown City Council to adopt “a medical freedom ordinance.”

On Tuesday, he urged council to create such legislation before the next meeting on Oct. 5 or Middletown voters will “replace you with somebody who will.”

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Second teen admits guilt in fatal Middletown shooting allegedly over $60 marijuana debt

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Jurors are divided by transparent panels during the trial of Peyton McFarland for the death of Chris Hacker Tuesday, April 20, 2021 in Butler County Common Pleas Court in Hamilton. The defense says McFarland acted in self defense when he stabbed Chris Hacker to death at their Monroe residence. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Jurors are divided by transparent panels during the trial of Peyton McFarland for the death of Chris Hacker Tuesday, April 20, 2021 in Butler County Common Pleas Court in Hamilton. The defense says McFarland acted in self defense when he stabbed Chris Hacker to death at their Monroe residence. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
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Jurors are divided by transparent panels during the trial of Peyton McFarland for the death of Chris Hacker Tuesday, April 20, 2021 in Butler County Common Pleas Court in Hamilton. The defense says McFarland acted in self defense when he stabbed Chris Hacker to death at their Monroe residence. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

The second of three teens charged in an apparent robbery attempt that turned deadly last winter in Middletown has admitted guilt.

Timathy Rhodus and Elliot Shepherd II, both 17 at the time of the crime, were each indicted in April for murder with gun specifications and other felonies for the Jan. 31 incident where a woman was killed at a Wilbraham Road residence. They are being tried as adults.

On Tuesday, Rhodus pleaded guilty to murder with a one-year gun specification in Butler County Common Pleas Court. The other charges, including felonious assault, were dismissed, according to court records.

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

Shot in head, Dayton officer showed ‘remarkable’ calmness and professionalism, chief says

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Police cruisers lined up outside Miami Valley Hospital. MARSHALL GORBY \STAFF

Police cruisers lined up outside Miami Valley Hospital. MARSHALL GORBY \STAFF
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Police cruisers lined up outside Miami Valley Hospital. MARSHALL GORBY \STAFF

A Dayton police officer who was shot in the side of his head Tuesday night showed remarkable calmness and professionalism while on the ground and bleeding, the Dayton Police chief said.

Thadeu Holloway, an eight-year veteran of the department, returned fire, striking the suspect multiple times. He then requested help for himself and the wounded suspect, and directed bystanders to safety, said Interim Director and Chief Matt Carper, all while bleeding.

A body-worn camera captured the 45-second encounter between the officer, the suspect who shot him, and the immediate aftermath.

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