Hamilton’s one-armed Taekwondo star, a Middletown woman helping military families and more: 5 uplifting stories this week

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


Middletown woman helping military families in need: Meet Geri Maples

Geri Maples of Middletown knows what it’s like to be a military family in need, and that personal experience is what led to her work as director of Blue Star Families of Dayton & Southern Ohio.

Her personal experience played a role in her decision to help others.

“Life has not been easy for my family,” Maples said. “My husband is a wounded veteran, and when he came home, I was alone. No one was there to help me. I don’t want anyone to go through the same thing.”

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‘I wanted the same expectations’: Hamilton’s one-armed Taekwondo star continuing his climb

In one early exam, medical technicians couldn’t locate his right arm.

Then when Kristin McGinn and her husband, a member of the U.S. Air Force, returned to Japan, she had another ultrasound.

“It was like they were trying to find something that wasn’t there,” she said. “This was my first child. You just expect 10 fingers, 10 toes. It was a little shocking, upsetting.”

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Butler County Fair: King, queen join hundreds preparing for more normal fair next week

With the COVID-19 pandemic altering the festivities of the Butler County Fair last year, the community is eager to enjoy all that the annual event has to offer for the 171st edition that starts on Sunday.

The fully scheduled fair follows last year’s event that had to change for COVID-19 precautions. Children who exhibited animals could only come in the day of their particular show and had to go back home. Only their immediate family could watch their judging.

There were only six food trailers at the 2020 event. Unlike prior fairs, nobody could stay overnight, and the only grandstand event was the demolition derby on the last day.

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New Butler County diner opens to ‘amazing’ crowds, reduces hours due to cook shortage

In the first week, the owners of Trenton’s newest restaurant have been overwhelmed by their customer support, but have found themselves short staffed, a common theme in the restaurant industry due to unemployment benefits.

Farmhouse Diner opened last week and was expected to be serve breakfast, lunch and dinner from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week, but due to an employee shortage started closing at 4 p.m. until more cooks can be hired and trained, said Barb Nease, who owns the restaurant with her mother, Max Murphy.

Murphy said the decision to close early came after discussing the employee situation with her husband. They agreed that instead of having customers waiting for long periods of time for their food order, it was best to shorten the hours and improve the service until more employees are hired.

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How they did it: New Hamilton mural created by father-son artist duo

A father and son duo collaborated on one of this year’s new StreetSpark program murals in Hamilton that hopes to spread joy through the growing art in the city.

Brent Billingsley and his 11-year-old son Brent Bllingsley ll, are the artists behind the “Changing the World Through Art - One Kid at a Time” mural – which showcases a depiction of Billingsley’s son as the main subject.

“This is a father-and-son collaboration piece,” Billingsley said.

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

Hand surgeon who has treated thousands of pro athletes joins local hospital system

Credit: Courtesy

Credit: Courtesy

Kettering Health welcomed established orthopedic hand surgeon Dr. Thomas Graham as senior vice president and chief innovation and transformation officer.

The Ohio native is best known for his work with over 2,000 professional athletes throughout the country but has also cared for patients as a physician and executive. Prior to joining Kettering Health, he worked at NYU Langone Health for five years holding several positions including director of innovation and strategy, associate dean for enterprise innovation and co-directed their sports health program.

Since he was 8 years old, Thomas said he knew he wanted to be a hand surgeon after he watched a presentation on open heart surgery performed by Dr. Michael DeBakey.

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