Hamilton Joes win first league championship, Hamilton bakery opens and more: 5 uplifting stories this week

Luke Heizer has opened Luke's Custom Cakes in the former True West Voffee location on High Street in downtown Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

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Luke Heizer has opened Luke's Custom Cakes in the former True West Voffee location on High Street in downtown Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

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


New YWCA Hamilton position takes advantage of grant to combat racism: Meet Charla Hale

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The YWCA of Hamilton has hired Charla Hale to fight racism in the city, using a $1 million grant from billionaire MacKenzie Scott. NICK GRAHAM/SAFF

The YWCA of Hamilton has hired Charla Hale to fight racism in the city, using a $1 million grant from billionaire MacKenzie Scott. NICK GRAHAM/SAFF

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The YWCA of Hamilton has hired Charla Hale to fight racism in the city, using a $1 million grant from billionaire MacKenzie Scott. NICK GRAHAM/SAFF

YWCA Hamilton has used the $1 million grant it won in December from billionaire MacKenzie Scott to hire Charla Hale, whose job it will be to combat racism locally.

Hale, 26, started in the YWCA’s new position of racial justice in July, after having worked in two other positions in Hamilton since graduating from Xavier University in 2017.

“I would say overwhelmingly, it’s been very enthusiastic of a response to now see that there’s someone in the area with this title, and that’s committed to the work,” she said. “I definitely have met a lot of allies already in the past few weeks of people who are excited and ready to help support whatever initiatives, whatever strategic plan we develop.”

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Butler County Fair: Importance of ‘fair families’ on display for support, connection

One piece of the Butler County Fair that exhibitors look forward to the most is reuniting with their “fair families” — a phrase commonly used among the 4-H community that joins together each summer for the festivities and competitions.

To have a “fair family” is to be part of a group who all share the common love and admiration for the fair and 4-H life and lifestyle. They view each other as a family with a bond just as strong as blood.

Erin-Simpson Salone, a 4-H program assistant, said being part of a “fair family” and the significance that it holds to the fair’s youngest competitors all the way to the 4-H alumni show the power of the program.

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3 Hamilton elementary students create safety crosswalk for classmates

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Three Hamilton Highland Elementary 6th graders just made walking to and from school safer for hundreds of classmates with their grant-seeking project that saw the recent creation of a new cross walk. The now 7th graders wrote and pitched for local grant funds to help the city create the new cross walk. Pictured here (L-R) at the crosswalk dedication, which was attended by Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller, are Xavier Hoxie, Malin Matheny and Kamyn Frazier. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)

Three Hamilton Highland Elementary 6th graders just made walking to and from school safer for hundreds of classmates with their grant-seeking project that saw the recent creation of a new cross walk. The now 7th graders wrote and pitched for local grant funds to help the city create the new cross walk. Pictured here (L-R) at the crosswalk dedication, which was attended by Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller, are Xavier Hoxie, Malin Matheny and Kamyn Frazier. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)

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Three Hamilton Highland Elementary 6th graders just made walking to and from school safer for hundreds of classmates with their grant-seeking project that saw the recent creation of a new cross walk. The now 7th graders wrote and pitched for local grant funds to help the city create the new cross walk. Pictured here (L-R) at the crosswalk dedication, which was attended by Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller, are Xavier Hoxie, Malin Matheny and Kamyn Frazier. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)

The daily walk to school for hundreds of Hamilton elementary students is now safer thanks to the creativity of three sixth-graders.

Three Highland Elementary students came up with an idea in the spring to propose and seek local grant funding for installation of a crosswalk at the corner of Franklin and Millville streets in the city’s Armondale neighborhood.

But they went beyond the idea by soliciting local, micro-grants – eventually earning the city more than $2,000 toward the proposed crosswalk from the local 17Strong nonprofit, named and represented by citizens from Hamilton’s 17 neighborhoods.

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Hamilton Joes win first league championship in five years

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The Hamilton Joes celebrate after winning the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League championship on Saturday. Photo by Amy DuVal-Moore

The Hamilton Joes celebrate after winning the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League championship on Saturday. Photo by Amy DuVal-Moore

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The Hamilton Joes celebrate after winning the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League championship on Saturday. Photo by Amy DuVal-Moore

Darrell Grissom learned the value of patience from participating in 20 previous dogpiles, so he knew to wait Saturday while one developed after his Hamilton Joes baseball team clinched the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League championship.

“I was on top,” said Grissom, the team’s president and general manager, on Tuesday afternoon by phone. “You can see my big butt up there. I’m the head coach at Miami University-Hamilton and we’ve won 18 championships there and three with the Joes, so I’ve learned to jump on real quick and roll off. I was still a little sore the next day, but it was a good soreness.”

Left-hander Sebastian Gongora, a Chaminade Julienne graduate, allowed four hits and one run in seven innings. Right-hander Chase Hopewell struck out five batters in two scoreless innings to lead the South Division-champion Joes to a 3-1 win over the North Division-champion Lima Locos in the decisive third game of the best-of-three championship round at Simmons Field in Lima.

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New bakery and cake-decorating shop opens Friday in former Hamilton coffee shop

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Luke Heizer has opened Luke's Custom Cakes in the former True West Voffee location on High Street in downtown Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Luke Heizer has opened Luke's Custom Cakes in the former True West Voffee location on High Street in downtown Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

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Luke Heizer has opened Luke's Custom Cakes in the former True West Voffee location on High Street in downtown Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Luke’s Custom Cakes hadn’t officially opened Tuesday, but already was stirring up excitement among people walking along High Street, who stepped inside to finally see the new bakery and cake-decorating shop.

“It’s been pretty crazy-busy in here,” said Luke Heizer, who had been designing and selling elaborately decorated confections out of his Trenton home since age 12. Now 22, he and six of his nine employees were baking and embellishing cakes and cupcakes, and preparing for their official Friday opening.

“We weren’t going to do a soft opening, but then I thought it would be a good idea to work through some of the kinks and stuff like that, Heizer said. “It’s definitely been busier than I anticipated, but it’s definitely a good thing to get some customers in here and get them excited for Friday.”

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

MidPointe, Lane libraries end ‘nickel and dimed’ fines in Butler County

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The new MidPointe Library System at Liberty Center will feature a collection of 5,000 items along with a drive-up book return and on-site programming for all ages. ERIC SCHWARTZBERG/STAFF

The new MidPointe Library System at Liberty Center will feature a collection of 5,000 items along with a drive-up book return and on-site programming for all ages. ERIC SCHWARTZBERG/STAFF

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The new MidPointe Library System at Liberty Center will feature a collection of 5,000 items along with a drive-up book return and on-site programming for all ages. ERIC SCHWARTZBERG/STAFF

MidPointe Library System and Lane Libraries, Butler County’s two largest library systems, are joining other leaders in library lending to go “fine free” and eliminate overdue fines.

Travis Bautz, executive director of MidPointe, said eliminating fines improves customer service, increases access for the patrons, and allows library staff to spend more time to perform “essential and valuable engagements” with customers.

Past fines on patron accounts will be forgiven starting this week, he said. Patrons will remain responsible for any fees on their accounts. Fees typically represent charges from items that were lost or damaged.

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