Emotional retirement, tacos, saving a puppy: 5 uplifting Butler County stories to help you finish the week

Duane Sparks, 52, a client of Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities, retired recently after 35 years working at the Fairfield Skyline Chili. An open house was held last week and was attended by co-workers, neighbors, Fairfield firefighters, and the Fairfield mayor. RICK McCRABB/STAFF
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Duane Sparks, 52, a client of Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities, retired recently after 35 years working at the Fairfield Skyline Chili. An open house was held last week and was attended by co-workers, neighbors, Fairfield firefighters, and the Fairfield mayor. RICK McCRABB/STAFF

Here’s a look at five positive Butler County stories that were in the news this week:


Fairfield Skyline celebrates employee with disabilities for 35-year career

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Duane Sparks, 52, a client of Developmental Disabilities of Butler County, has retired from the Fairfield Skyline Chili after 35 years. An open house was held for him last week. RICK McCRABB/STAFF

Duane Sparks, 52, a client of Developmental Disabilities of Butler County, has retired from the Fairfield Skyline Chili after 35 years. An open house was held for him last week. RICK McCRABB/STAFF
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Duane Sparks, 52, a client of Developmental Disabilities of Butler County, has retired from the Fairfield Skyline Chili after 35 years. An open house was held for him last week. RICK McCRABB/STAFF

One by one, they kept walking through the front door of the Skyline Chili on Hicks Boulevard.

They were longtime Skyline customers, Fairfield firefighters, neighbors, co-workers and the mayor.

They were all there to see Duane Sparks and celebrate his retirement after 35 years as dishwasher, bus boy and greeter at the Butler County chili parlor.

Sparks, 52, was hired when he was an 18-year-old client at Butler County Developmental Disabilities. He started at the Skyline across the street and moved to the Hicks Boulevard location when it opened about 25 years ago.

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Taco restaurant chain opens first Butler County location in Monroe

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Victor's Taco Shop was named a finalist in 2017's Best of Dayton poll. Their menu offerings include tacos, enchiladas, burritos, chimichangas and more. STAFF PHOTO / ALLEGRA CZERWINSKI

Victor's Taco Shop was named a finalist in 2017's Best of Dayton poll. Their menu offerings include tacos, enchiladas, burritos, chimichangas and more. STAFF PHOTO / ALLEGRA CZERWINSKI
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Victor's Taco Shop was named a finalist in 2017's Best of Dayton poll. Their menu offerings include tacos, enchiladas, burritos, chimichangas and more. STAFF PHOTO / ALLEGRA CZERWINSKI

The manager of a new restaurant in Monroe believes the supply for Mexican food hasn’t surpassed the demand.

So Luis Gaytan, 31, manager of Victor’s Taco Shop, is excited about the franchise’s eighth Ohio location and first in Butler County that opened two weeks ago.

Some of the other Ohio locations are in Dayton, Fairborn and Xenia, and the expansion will continue with restaurants expected to open in Columbus, Kettering and Lima, Gaytan said.

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Rumpke worker from Hamilton who rescued puppy abandoned in backpack honored by area SPCA

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Rumpke driver Aaron Kinsel adopted "Tipper," a 10-week-old puppy he found abandoned inside a backpack along a Colerain Township road. PROVIDED

Rumpke driver Aaron Kinsel adopted "Tipper," a 10-week-old puppy he found abandoned inside a backpack along a Colerain Township road. PROVIDED
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Rumpke driver Aaron Kinsel adopted "Tipper," a 10-week-old puppy he found abandoned inside a backpack along a Colerain Township road. PROVIDED

A Hamilton man who rescued a puppy with a broken leg abandoned in a backpack while the man was on his route with Rumpke was honored by the SPCA Cincinnati with the Good Pet Samaritan Award.

The SPCA presented Aaron Kinsel with the award on Tuesday at the Rumpke headquarters in Cincinnati.

Kinsel found the puppy, later named Tipper, while on a residential route picking up recycling in Colerain Twp. on a chilly January morning.

He was backing down the road when he noticed some strange movement coming from a backpack. When he went to look inside, Tipper poked her head out.

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80 Acres to sell its Hamilton-grown produce in more of Kroger’s Midwestern markets

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80 Acres, the cutting-edge indoor farming company, has its headquarters on the seventh floor of Hamilton's city-government tower. PROVIDED

80 Acres, the cutting-edge indoor farming company, has its headquarters on the seventh floor of Hamilton's city-government tower. PROVIDED
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80 Acres, the cutting-edge indoor farming company, has its headquarters on the seventh floor of Hamilton's city-government tower. PROVIDED

Hamilton-based 80 Acres on Monday will begin shipping its greens and salads to more Kroger markets, including in Columbus, Indianapolis, Lexington and Louisville, the two companies announced.

“We had some stores in the Cincinnati-Dayton area that we’ve been supplying, and they’re ready to expand, and so we’re expanding into four regions,” said 80 Acres spokeswoman Rebecca Haders.

In total, 80 Acres food will be in 316 Kroger supermarkets in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.

Aside from Columbus, Indianapolis, Louisville and Lexington markets, 80 Acres also will send products to more Kroger stores in the Cincinnati-Dayton region.

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Fairfield’s Harbin Park could see new improvements as early as this year

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The city of Fairfield will purchase a 33-acre site that would expand the city’s walking and cycling paths in Harbin Park to the west. The purchase is contingent receiving a Clean Ohio Grant that would pay for 75 percent of the purchase price. GREG LYNCH/FILE

The city of Fairfield will purchase a 33-acre site that would expand the city’s walking and cycling paths in Harbin Park to the west. The purchase is contingent receiving a Clean Ohio Grant that would pay for 75 percent of the purchase price. GREG LYNCH/FILE
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The city of Fairfield will purchase a 33-acre site that would expand the city’s walking and cycling paths in Harbin Park to the west. The purchase is contingent receiving a Clean Ohio Grant that would pay for 75 percent of the purchase price. GREG LYNCH/FILE

Upgrades to William Harbin Park that have been talked about since 2014 could begin as early as this year, according to city officials.

With the help of $700,000 from the capital funds allocated last year in Senate Bill 310, Phase 1 of a three-phase Harbin Park renovation will include a rebuilt overlook picnic shelter, replacement of the wooden shelters, a new year-round restroom facility, improved playground area, and an expanded bike and walking trail, said Parks and Recreation Director Tiphanie Howard.

The city’s portion of the capital funds is part of more than $24 million allocated to the county for projects, and Rep. Sara Carruthers, R-Hamilton, worked to secure funding for these Fairfield projects.

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

First phase of newest Butler County veterans memorial to be done by Veterans Day

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Pictured is an artist’s rendering of the planned veterans’ memorial at Heroes Park in Fairfield Twp. Township officials hope to receive funding from the 2020 state capital budget. PROVIDED

Pictured is an artist’s rendering of the planned veterans’ memorial at Heroes Park in Fairfield Twp. Township officials hope to receive funding from the 2020 state capital budget. PROVIDED
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Pictured is an artist’s rendering of the planned veterans’ memorial at Heroes Park in Fairfield Twp. Township officials hope to receive funding from the 2020 state capital budget. PROVIDED

Fairfield Twp. Trustee Joe McAbee said the veterans’ memorial project at Heroes Park is “more important than anything we’ve done.”

The eventual 67-foot-diameter Fairfield Twp. Veterans Memorial will take years to complete, but the site work is underway for the latest Butler County memorial to honor those who not only served in the armed services but died in service to the country.

There are about 24,000 veterans living in Butler County and multiple memorials that pay tribute to the veterans, including Veterans Memorial Park in the city of Fairfield, the county’s Soldiers, Sailor and Pioneers Monument in Hamilton and Veterans Memorial Plaza in West Chester Twp. Many of Butler County’s veterans are interred at either Greenwood Cemetery or Woodside Cemetery.

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