Progress at Spooky Nook, Richards Pizza expanding with tacos and more: 5 uplifting stories this week

Richards Pizza co-owners Karen Underwood Kramer and Gayl Underwod, are considering opening a fast-casual Mexican restaurant in Hamilton, with the foods that used to be served at Richards on Main Street from 1970 to 1992. PROVIDED
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Richards Pizza co-owners Karen Underwood Kramer and Gayl Underwod, are considering opening a fast-casual Mexican restaurant in Hamilton, with the foods that used to be served at Richards on Main Street from 1970 to 1992. PROVIDED

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


Spooky Nook progressing in Hamilton, but plenty of work to go: Here’s the latest

This will be the largest ballroom, which can seat 500-700 people, in the convention center at Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill. PROVIDED
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This will be the largest ballroom, which can seat 500-700 people, in the convention center at Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill. PROVIDED

Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill should be open by April 2022, but the country’s largest indoor sports complex, which also will have a convention center, is a long way from completion, a presentation by its owner showed last week.

Spooky Nook founder Sam Beiler, who operates the original Spooky Nook facility near Lancaster, Pa., told council he is pleased with how construction is progressing now, and every weekend is booked at Spooky Nook from April through August 2022.

Even after the October 2018, groundbreaking, “the challenges were almost stunning sometimes,” Beiler said.

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Richards Pizza looks to expand in Hamilton with tacos and more seating

Richards Pizza is located at 417 Main Street in Hamilton as well as other location is Hamilton, Fairfield, Trenton and Monroe. Richards has been serving up steak sandwiches and pizza since 1955. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
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Richards Pizza is located at 417 Main Street in Hamilton as well as other location is Hamilton, Fairfield, Trenton and Monroe. Richards has been serving up steak sandwiches and pizza since 1955. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Richards Pizza plans to expand its Main Street location in Hamilton, as well as its menu there, to add tacos and other Mexican food, and offer outdoor dining.

The expansion idea was seeded around the start of this year when Karen Underwood Kramer and her sister, Gayl Underwood, made a proposal to the city to create a separate Mexican restaurant at the former Ritzi Body Shop, located at Main and E streets, Kramer said.

Instead, city officials entered into an agreement with Agave & Rye to put in an upscale restaurant and bar there.

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Amanda Elementary playground nears completion thanks to Kiwanis Club, community volunteers

The playground at Amanda Elementary School on Oxford-State Road nears completion on Monday after four days of work from Middletown Kiwanis members and community volunteers. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
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The playground at Amanda Elementary School on Oxford-State Road nears completion on Monday after four days of work from Middletown Kiwanis members and community volunteers. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Those instrumental in building an ADA approved playground at a Middletown elementary school believe the enjoyment will be worth the wait.

The Kiwanis Club of Middletown members and community volunteers spent four days assembling a playground at Amanda Elementary School. They had hoped to have the “Community Build” completed Saturday night, but progress was delayed when concrete, blocks, bricks and glass were hit while drilling holes for the support beams, said Henrietta Nye, co-chair of the project with the late Guy Stone.

Volunteers were back at the school Monday morning and they plan to spread yards of mulch today. A dedication is set for 4:30 p.m. Sept. 22, Nye said.

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Middletown Steak ‘n Shake reopens after 2 years with drive-thru only

The Middletown Steak 'n Shake, address here, has reopened, but is serving customers only in its drive-through, according to a sign on the front door. The restaurant has been closed for about two years. RICK McCRABB/STAFF
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The Middletown Steak 'n Shake, address here, has reopened, but is serving customers only in its drive-through, according to a sign on the front door. The restaurant has been closed for about two years. RICK McCRABB/STAFF

Middletown’s Steak ‘n Shake has reopened after being closed for two years following numerous health violations and until a franchise-operator was located.

A sign on the door read: “Welcome Back! We are excited to serve you in our drive thru.”

No one answered the phone at the restaurant on Monday and numerous calls to the corporate office in Indianapolis were not returned to the Journal-News.

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Kings Island Haunt named top theme park Halloween event in USA Today awards

Ghouls, goblins and monsters of all sorts provide new kinds of thrills at Kings Island's Halloween Haunt.
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Ghouls, goblins and monsters of all sorts provide new kinds of thrills at Kings Island's Halloween Haunt.

Credit: Contributed photo

Credit: Contributed photo

The Kings Island Halloween Haunt has been voted the Best Theme Park Halloween Event in USA Today’s 10Best Reader’s Choice awards.

The Haunt beat other events at Busch Gardens in Virginia and Florida, as well as events at Hersheypark and Universal Studios Hollywood in the top 10.

The Haunt previously was voted Best Theme Park Halloween Event in 2018, according to the park website.

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

Miami University repeats as a top 50 school in latest national rankings

Earning national rankings in a variety of national academic measurements is nothing new to Miami University. But recently coming in second – right behind internationally acclaimed Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – was a welcomed surprise, say Miami officials. Pictured are students studying in Miami's Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)
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Earning national rankings in a variety of national academic measurements is nothing new to Miami University. But recently coming in second – right behind internationally acclaimed Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – was a welcomed surprise, say Miami officials. Pictured are students studying in Miami's Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)

Credit: Jeff Sabo

Credit: Jeff Sabo

A national rating system of universities has again picked Miami University as a top 50 school in America.

Coming in for a second consecutive year at number 46, Miami continues to add to its annual tradition of garnering national recognition for both the school and various academic aspects offered at the university.

“We are honored to be recognized in these newest rankings,” said Miami University President Gregory Crawford in a released statement following the recent publication of the annual U.S. News & World Report’s university ratings.

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