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

The driver of a van that crashed into a house and caught on fire is dead after they were unable to get out of the vehicle when it engulfed in flames on Sunday. LOT TAN / WCPO-TV
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The driver of a van that crashed into a house and caught on fire is dead after they were unable to get out of the vehicle when it engulfed in flames on Sunday. LOT TAN / WCPO-TV

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


1 dead after van crashes into house and catches fire in Fairfield Twp.

The driver of a van that crashed into a house and caught on fire is dead after they were unable to get out of the vehicle when it engulfed in flames on Sunday. LOT TAN / WCPO-TV
Caption
The driver of a van that crashed into a house and caught on fire is dead after they were unable to get out of the vehicle when it engulfed in flames on Sunday. LOT TAN / WCPO-TV

The driver of a van that crashed into a house and caught on fire is dead after being unable to get out of the vehicle when it was engulfed in flames on Sunday.

Before colliding with a house on Drew Drive in Fairfield Twp., the driver hit a mailbox down the road, drove through multiple yards and hit a car. When the van collided with the home, a fire sparked in the van that spread to the home.

The family inside the home escaped safely; Adam Gehler, the homeowner, said after hearing what sounded like a big explosion, he ran outside to see what happened. When he spotted the van and the fire, he grabbed two fire extinguishers to try and put out the fire to help the driver.

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Police take down poster opposing student masks at Hamilton school board meeting

Among the anti-mask speakers at Hamilton school board's recent meeting was one who brought a photo poster reading: "This Board Is Intellectually Dishonest." A Hamilton Police officer working security took the poster and a man who was holding it was ordered by the officer to leave the building, according to the man. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)
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Among the anti-mask speakers at Hamilton school board's recent meeting was one who brought a photo poster reading: "This Board Is Intellectually Dishonest." A Hamilton Police officer working security took the poster and a man who was holding it was ordered by the officer to leave the building, according to the man. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)

A sometimes raucous public meeting of the Hamilton school board saw parents objecting to masks for students with one parent ordered to leave the building after police grabbed an anti-mask poster.

The occasionally loud audience of about 50 on Thursday prompted Hamilton Board of Education President Laurin Sprague to admonish some and he also ordered one speaker – who was commenting to the board outside of the allowed public speaking portion of the meeting - to leave.

Following a presentation by Superintendent Mike Holbrook on the impact of the board’s ordering earlier this month all students and school staffers to be masked while in school buildings, a series of speakers – nine opposing masks and two favoring – filled the 30-minute public comment section of the meeting.

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Trial starts today for man accused for raping 4 women in Middletown and Hamilton

Taranpreet Singh
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Taranpreet Singh

Credit: Butler County Jail

Credit: Butler County Jail

The trial of a Butler County man accused of raping four women in 2019 and 2020 is scheduled to begin today.

Taranpreet Singh, 31, of Village Drive in Middletown, was taken into custody Feb. 19 and charged with two counts of rape, aggravated robbery and kidnapping for incidents that allegedly happened in September 2019 and August 2020, according to Hamilton police.

A week later, Singh was also indicted for a rape and kidnapping that happened on April 2, 2020 in Middletown, according court records and a police report. The indicted charges against Singh are rape, kidnapping and assault for a Sept. 4 to 5, 2019 crime; rape and kidnapping with gun specifications for a Aug 23, 2020 crime; and kidnapping and rape for the April 2, 2020 crime.

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Former Franklin strip club to become a car wash

The former New York, New York Cabaret on East Second Street in Franklin will become a car wash. The Franklin Planning Commission recently approved plans for a car wash. Demolition of the roof has already started at the former strip club. ED RICHTER/STAFF
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The former New York, New York Cabaret on East Second Street in Franklin will become a car wash. The Franklin Planning Commission recently approved plans for a car wash. Demolition of the roof has already started at the former strip club. ED RICHTER/STAFF

Demolition has already started on transforming a former strip club into a new automatic car wash in Franklin.

Real estate investor Andrew Leonhard moved from New Jersey to Ohio two years ago is working on his first Tommy’s Express Car Wash at the former New York, New York Cabaret at 1221 E. Second St. in Franklin. He has plenty of Ohio connections as his mother is from Hamilton and has other relatives who live around the state.

Leonhard has the Tommy’s Express Car Wash franchise rights in Warren and Montgomery counties.

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Hamilton council approves new drone legislation, may adjust it soon

Hamilton’s new drone takes off at Joyce Park. The machine should make it much faster for electric crews to search for wires that are down after storms, and will have other benefits. MIKE RUTLEDGE/STAFF
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Hamilton’s new drone takes off at Joyce Park. The machine should make it much faster for electric crews to search for wires that are down after storms, and will have other benefits. MIKE RUTLEDGE/STAFF

After hearing this summer from a man who said some in his neighborhood were harassed by someone flying a drone, Hamilton City Council approved legislation Wednesday to outlaw voyeurism using the automated flying machines.

Council unanimously approved the legislation, despite concerns expressed by people who fly drones as professionals and as hobbyists. Rather than waiting to evaluate concerns expressed by the drone pilots, council members approved the ordinance, and said they can adjust it later if necessary, perhaps in the coming weeks.

A longtime city resident recently told council a man was using a drone to peer into windows, flying over children playing in yards and chase a young woman down the street. Council, concerned that police found themselves unable to file charges, pledged to work quickly to make such acts illegal.

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

Fairfield City Council expected to bump stipend for acting city manager

Fairfield Fire Chief Don Bennett is also serving as acting city manager since the resignation of the previous city manager. NICK GRAHAM  / STAFF
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Fairfield Fire Chief Don Bennett is also serving as acting city manager since the resignation of the previous city manager. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Fairfield City Council agreed in December to pay Fire Chief Don Bennett $2,000 per month extra to not only lead the fire department but also the city administration as an acting city manager.

Bennett was named acting city manager when former city manager Mark Wendling resigned on Dec. 11. It was first believed the role would last for a few months, as officials thought replacing Wendling would take about six months.

After City Council last month decided to pause the search for a second time this year, so it appears Bennett could be acting city manager at least until mid-spring 2022.

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