Hamilton business turns 100, local quadruplets graduate from Yale and more: 5 uplifting Butler County stories this week.

Sophie Grollmus weighs seeds Friday, June 18, 2021 on a 99-year-old scale used by her great grandfather Al Huesman, who started Al Joe's Pet and Garden Center.
Al-Joe's Pet and Garden Centers are celebrating 100 years in business this year. They now have locations in Hamilton and West Chester Township. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
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Sophie Grollmus weighs seeds Friday, June 18, 2021 on a 99-year-old scale used by her great grandfather Al Huesman, who started Al Joe's Pet and Garden Center. Al-Joe's Pet and Garden Centers are celebrating 100 years in business this year. They now have locations in Hamilton and West Chester Township. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

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


Hamilton business celebrating 100th anniversary: This is its story

Al-Joe's Pet and Garden Centers are celebrating 100 years in business this year. They now have locations in Hamilton and West Chester Township. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
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Al-Joe's Pet and Garden Centers are celebrating 100 years in business this year. They now have locations in Hamilton and West Chester Township. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Al-Joe’s Pet & Garden Centers in Hamilton has survived the Great Depression, World War II, the Covid-19 pandemic and other difficult economic times to reach its 100th anniversary this year.

The product the family-owned company seems to hold most pride in is its Fort Hamilton Grass Seed, which is a proprietary blend of grasses, including fescue and rye grass that Al-Joe’s boasts has been Butler County’s best for 70 years.

“It’s made to grow in the high-clay soil that we have in Butler County,” said Sophie Grollmus, manager of the Hamilton store. The company sells about 10,000 pounds of it a year.

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Famous Lakota quadruplets again drawing national spotlight as Yale graduates

Lakota East seniors and quadruplets (from left) Nigel, Zach, Nick and Aaron Wade have announced they will all be attending Yale University in the fall. CONTRIBUTED
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Lakota East seniors and quadruplets (from left) Nigel, Zach, Nick and Aaron Wade have announced they will all be attending Yale University in the fall. CONTRIBUTED

The internationally famous Wades — quadruplets who graduated from Lakota East High School in 2017 — have now been handed diplomas from Yale University to even more attention.

Famous as high-achieving quads, Nick, Aaron, Nigel and Zachary Wade used Yale as a springboard to individually define themselves further, said their mother, Kim Wade.

The recent Yale commencement ceremony and their family celebration still has Wade, a principal at Lakota’s Plains Junior School, and her husband, Darrin, beaming with pride.

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Butler County native qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA - MAY 18: Zach Apple competes in the 200 Freestyle on Day Three of the TYR Pro Swim Series at Bloomington at Counsilman Billingsley Aquatics Center on May 18, 2019 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA - MAY 18: Zach Apple competes in the 200 Freestyle on Day Three of the TYR Pro Swim Series at Bloomington at Counsilman Billingsley Aquatics Center on May 18, 2019 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Edgewood High graduate Zach Apple is headed to the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

Apple, 24, finished second in the 100-meter freestyle Thursday night to punch his ticket during the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials in Omaha, Neb.

Caeleb Dressel won the event in 47.39 seconds, followed by Apple in 47.92. Apple’s finish also clinched a spot on the 400 free relay team in Tokyo. He was a member of the U.S. gold-medal 400 free relay team at the 2019 World Championships. Apple won three other medals at the 2019 World Championships.

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Father’s Day: Mason man becomes a father for the second time -- 25 years after the first

Jeff Carson, 49, become a father for the second time when his daughter, Ella Kay, was born June 3. His other child is a 25-year-old son. RICK McCRABB / STAFF
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Jeff Carson, 49, become a father for the second time when his daughter, Ella Kay, was born June 3. His other child is a 25-year-old son. RICK McCRABB / STAFF

Their lives seemed as settled as concrete.

Their professional careers were well-established, for seven years they were empty nesters after their son graduated in 2014 from Mason High School, then married this year.

Next on Life’s Checklist for Jeff and Tracey Carson appeared to be grandparenting.

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High school football: Hamilton, Lakota East standouts commit to Division I schools

Lakota East's Charlie Kenrich carries the football during their game against Middletown Friday, Sept. 20, 2019 at Lakota East High School in Liberty Township. Lakota East defeated Middletown 21-9. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
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Lakota East's Charlie Kenrich carries the football during their game against Middletown Friday, Sept. 20, 2019 at Lakota East High School in Liberty Township. Lakota East defeated Middletown 21-9. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

A pair of seniors from the Greater Miami Conference found college football homes over the weekend.

Charlie Kenrich of Lakota East announced a commitment to Purdue on Saturday afternoon.

He had more than a dozen offers, including schools from the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC and Ivy League according to 247Sports.

Kaleb Johnson of Hamilton made his announcement Sunday night, choosing California from a group of 15 offers that included schools from the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12.

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

Archdeacon: This Franklin native is a Hall of Fame dad with a Purple Heart and Olympic dreams

John Kremer, Franklin High School Class of 2002, will be among those inducted this week into the school’s Hall of Fame. At Franklin High, Kremer was a three-time state qualifier in wrestling, and Academic All-Ohio twice. He served in the U.S. Navy for nine years as a explosive ordnance disposal technician. Kremer played in the 2016 Paralympics as a member of the U.S. Men’s Sitting Volleyball Team. CONTRIBUTED
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John Kremer, Franklin High School Class of 2002, will be among those inducted this week into the school’s Hall of Fame. At Franklin High, Kremer was a three-time state qualifier in wrestling, and Academic All-Ohio twice. He served in the U.S. Navy for nine years as a explosive ordnance disposal technician. Kremer played in the 2016 Paralympics as a member of the U.S. Men’s Sitting Volleyball Team. CONTRIBUTED

He was in the very northern part of Afghanistan – Kunduz Province – just five miles from the Tajikistan border. It was September of 2010 and for American troops, it was a dangerous place to be.

A few months earlier, according to New York Times reporter Jim Dao, who was embedded there with the 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry of the 10th Mountain Division, U.S. commanders had discovered 1/3 or more of the province was controlled by insurgents that included Taliban fighters, radical Tajikistan and Uzbekistan separatists and ruthless criminal gangs.

For John Kremer, the former Franklin High School wrestling standout who’d end up in the school’s hall of fame, wrestle a year for the U.S. Navy and later compete on the Olympics stage – the risks were ramped up even more.

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