Top local news for Friday, Jan. 14, 2022

The 10,000-student Hamilton Schools will be closed until early next week after district officials announced Tuesday no more live classes starting Wednesday due to teacher and staffer absences. The district is the first in Butler County to close all schools during the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the region. (PHOTO BY NICK GRAHAM\Journal-News)

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The 10,000-student Hamilton Schools will be closed until early next week after district officials announced Tuesday no more live classes starting Wednesday due to teacher and staffer absences. The district is the first in Butler County to close all schools during the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the region. (PHOTO BY NICK GRAHAM\Journal-News)

Here is a look at five big Butler County stories today to catch up on the news.


Hamilton schools move to remote learning through Jan. 21

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The 10,000-student Hamilton Schools will be closed until early next week after district officials announced Tuesday no more live classes starting Wednesday due to teacher and staffer absences. The district is the first in Butler County to close all schools during the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the region. (PHOTO BY NICK GRAHAM\Journal-News)

The 10,000-student Hamilton Schools will be closed until early next week after district officials announced Tuesday no more live classes starting Wednesday due to teacher and staffer absences. The district is the first in Butler County to close all schools during the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the region. (PHOTO BY NICK GRAHAM\Journal-News)

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The 10,000-student Hamilton Schools will be closed until early next week after district officials announced Tuesday no more live classes starting Wednesday due to teacher and staffer absences. The district is the first in Butler County to close all schools during the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the region. (PHOTO BY NICK GRAHAM\Journal-News)

The Hamilton City Schools will have students learning remote when they resume classes on Tuesday, Jan. 18.

The district has already been closed this week because of low staffing caused by COVID-19 quarantines and illnesses. It was to return from closure on Tuesday, the day after the Martin Luther King Day holiday.

The district’s remote learning schedule is available on its website, hamiltoncityschools.com. This is the plan at least through Jan. 21, the district said, and ideally classes will resume in-person on Jan. 24.

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Body found in Hamilton park; police investigating

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The visitation for Hamilton police Sgt. Gerald "Jerry" Butler was held Tuesday, Oct. 27 at Princeton Pike Church of God followed by funeral services and procession escorting the Butler family to Rose Hill Burial Park. Officers from Hamilton and many surrounding police departments joined the procession to pay respects to a fellow officer. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

The visitation for Hamilton police Sgt. Gerald "Jerry" Butler was held Tuesday, Oct. 27  at Princeton Pike Church of God followed by funeral services and procession escorting the Butler family to Rose Hill Burial Park.
Officers from Hamilton and many surrounding police departments joined the procession to pay respects to a fellow officer. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

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The visitation for Hamilton police Sgt. Gerald "Jerry" Butler was held Tuesday, Oct. 27 at Princeton Pike Church of God followed by funeral services and procession escorting the Butler family to Rose Hill Burial Park. Officers from Hamilton and many surrounding police departments joined the procession to pay respects to a fellow officer. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

A death investigation is ongoing after a woman was found dead today in Combs Park, according to Officer Kristy Collins.

Police said there “is no cause for alarm” and the body has no obvious signs of trauma. Identification is pending an autopsy by the Butler County Coroner’s Office.

Collins did say the person is not Kara Hyde, who has been missing from Hamilton since Dec 5. Hyde remains missing.

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Some MLK Day events go virtual, others modified

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About 50 people braved cold temperatures Monday morning for the 34th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. event in Hamilton. The march stepped off from the Booker T. Washington Community Center on Front Street, traversed High Street and then down MLK Boulevard to the Pilgrim Baptist Church.

About 50 people braved cold temperatures Monday morning for the 34th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. event in Hamilton. The march stepped off from the Booker T. Washington Community Center on Front Street, traversed High Street and then down MLK Boulevard to the Pilgrim Baptist Church.

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About 50 people braved cold temperatures Monday morning for the 34th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. event in Hamilton. The march stepped off from the Booker T. Washington Community Center on Front Street, traversed High Street and then down MLK Boulevard to the Pilgrim Baptist Church.

The unifying messages of the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday were always important but they will resonate even more Monday as a global pandemic slogs toward its two-year anniversary, say local leaders.

With many experiencing more isolation brought on by the precautions and impacts of COVID-19, the importance of coming together is heightened, and so too is the desire to connect across racial and other barriers.

But the latest surge of COVID-19 cases has already forced cancelations of some local MLK events to commemorate the memory and mission of the famed civil rights activist and preacher of racial peace.

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Middletown Schools mourn support technician who died this week

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Matthew Combs, 30, was a system support technician for Middletown High School. CONTRIBUTED

Matthew Combs, 30, was a system support technician for Middletown High School. CONTRIBUTED

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Matthew Combs, 30, was a system support technician for Middletown High School. CONTRIBUTED

A beloved Middletown Schools staffer died this week leaving students, teachers and district leaders mourning.

Matthew Combs, 30, who was a system support technician for Middletown High School, died Thursday of undisclosed causes.

Middletown Schools Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr. released a statement Friday saying: “Matthew worked tirelessly in our technology department. He ensured (student) Chromebooks and (wireless) hotspots were delivered, fixed, and in the hands of our students.”

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Middletown woman charged with killing sister still incompetent to stand trial

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Monica Ann Pennington, 48, was charged with murder and felonious assault for the death of her sister, Pamela Pennington on Oct. 20 at their home in Middletown. Pennington appeared for a competency hearing in Butler County Common Pleas Court Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022 in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Monica Ann Pennington, 48, was charged with murder and felonious assault for the death of her sister, Pamela Pennington on Oct. 20 at their home in Middletown. Pennington appeared for a competency hearing in Butler County Common Pleas Court Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022 in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

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Monica Ann Pennington, 48, was charged with murder and felonious assault for the death of her sister, Pamela Pennington on Oct. 20 at their home in Middletown. Pennington appeared for a competency hearing in Butler County Common Pleas Court Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022 in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

A Middletown woman accused of shooting and killing her sister in December 2021 remains incompetent to stand trial after a month of psychological counseling, the judge ruled Thursday.

Monica Ann Pennington, 48, of 1607 Lafayette Ave., was charged with murder and felonious assault in the death of her sister, Pamela Pennington on Oct. 20, 2021. The 52-year-old woman was found dead in the living room of the residence after Monica called 911, according to Middletown police.

Defense attorney David Brewer entered a not guilty by reason of insanity plea for Pennington.

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

5 things to do in Butler County this weekend

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Chocolate Meltdown in Oxford. CONTRIBUTED

Chocolate Meltdown in Oxford. CONTRIBUTED

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Chocolate Meltdown in Oxford. CONTRIBUTED

It may be winter but the area has some hot events happening this weekend. Here are some things to check out.

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