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

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

Butler County residents flood officials with calls after getting higher tax bills

Butler County taxpayers got sticker shock when they opened their tax bills last week and flooded the auditor’s and treasurer’s offices with thousands of calls.

Treasurer Nancy Nix said her staff have answered more than 2,000 calls last week from taxpayers wondering why their bills jumped so high in some areas, and others questioning the new format of the bills, which show less customized information. The number of calls in three days after bills were mailed jumped from 669 last year to 1,580 this year.

“I think the overwhelming amount of calls are about the values and taxes going up and trying to understand why there is such a difference,” Nix said.


Reported COVID-19 deaths in Butler County jump after state fixes reporting errors



While the state added 4,275 previously unreported COVID-19 deaths to its count at the end of last week, Butler County added 143, according to the data reviewed by the Journal-News.

The Ohio Department of Health announced it discovered an error that was blamed on an employee responsible for reviewing and entering data submitted by physicians and from death certificates.

From March 14, 2020 to Feb. 6, 2021, the ODH reported 265 coronavirus deaths in Butler County, according to the report. But the following week, the ODH listed 408 deaths, a 54% jump from the Feb. 6 report.


Capitol riot: Attorney claims area suspect was mistreated, forced to remain naked in local jail

A Champaign County woman accused of taking part in the Jan. 6 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol was forced to remain naked in her cell in full view of others for days, and her injuries were not treated while she was in local custody, attorneys said in a court filing Saturday.

But jail officials in Montgomery and Butler counties, where Jessica Watkins was held, denied those claims Sunday.

Watkins, 38, and others are facing federal charges of conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding, destruction of government property and unlawful entry on restricted building or grounds for their roles in the Capitol riot.


Three charged in Butler County homicides appear in court: What happened in their cases

Three people charged in Butler County homicides appeared in a Butler County Common Pleas courtroom last week for hearings.


Middletown looking to extend outdoor drinking district for 5 more years

Middletown City Council unanimously approved the continuance of Ohio’s first Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area for another five years as well as the expansion of the boundaries.

Council’s decision to continue the DORA will now go to the Ohio Division of Liquor Control for final approval.

Susan Cohen, city administrative services director, informed council in a staff report that Ohio law requires a review of the operation of the DORA area five years after it was created.


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

I was a victim of unemployment fraud. Here’s what I learned

The first indication my identity was used in an attempt to defraud Ohio’s unemployment system was a letter addressed to my employer — but mailed to my house.

The form, a “Request to Employer for Separation Information,” arrived in January. It said that I had filed for unemployment on Jan. 2. I had not.

The form was plastered with red flags. It had my Social Security number, but off by one digit. The listed phone number was for the Journal-News in Butler County, where I worked 10 years ago. I sent a copy to our human resources department, who assured me I had still had a job.