Fairfield and Fairfield Twp. had an up and down year.
Each lost a valued member of their local government leaders to changes — or pending changes in the case of the city — at the top of their respective police forces.
Here are some of the top stories in 2017 from the city and township.
Two deaths of public servants
Fairfield City Councilman Bob Myron, 76, died on July 19 after being in the hospital for a medical procedure.
During Myron’s funeral service, Sacred Heart pastor Father Larry Tharp said: “Bob was a big part of the Fairfield community. He was a big advocate for our city. Bob was a man who believed in his community, and he didn’t just talk as a man who believed in his community — he acted as one who believed in his community. Fairfield is better for Bob’s presence, and we are all better in Fairfield because Bob cared for all of us.”
Myron was appointed to Fairfield City Council in June 2016 after Adam Jones resigned because he moved out of the First Ward.
Myron grew up in Pittsburgh, graduated from Duquesne University and received training from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and the Harvard Business School. He relocated his family to Southwest Ohio more than four decades ago, but not initially in Fairfield.
But looking at his resume, people would not have known he was not a native Fairfield resident. He had been a Fairfield Parks and Recreation Board member and vice chair, Fairfield Planning Commission member, Fairfield Community Arts Advisory Committee member, and Fairfield City Council member. He also served on the Butler County Mental Health Board (including as president) and the Butler County United Way board.
Nancy Bock, 60, served 18 years as Fairfield Twp.’s fiscal officer, and in 2015 was re-elected to another four-year term, died on Nov. 29.
The news of her death was delivered by Fairfield Twp. Trustee President Susan Berding at the start of a zoning public hearing at the township administration building. The meeting was continued because the trustees and township staff were visibly shaken by the news of Bock’s death.
Berding offered condolences on behalf of the board to Bock’s family, friends and township employees.
“As we move forward in our actions of our township, we will diligently work to honor Nancy’s tenure with the township in continuing the service to the community,” she said. “But I feel it is most appropriate to open and continue the meeting in progress (and resume it on another day).”
Deportation captures community attention
Maribel Trujillo Diaz, a Fairfield mother of four, was deported back to her homeland of Mexico in April and captured the attention of many in the region, including the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
The archdiocese requested prayers, donations and calls to politicians on behalf of Trujillo Diaz, and also ask people “demand Congress finally fix our broken immigration system, so that more like Maribel can have a truly viable path to come here and raise their families in peace.”
She sought asylum in the United States because drug cartels targeted her family in her Mexican hometown. Trujillo Diaz lost her final appeal in mid-2014.
Her deportation was also the topic of discussion by Congressman Warren Davidson, R-Troy, when he held a public forum in Oxford on the same day Trujillo Diaz was deported.
Davidson said his office assists constituents in the 8th Congressional District who request it, known as casework. The congressman said neither Trujillo nor a member of her family requested assistance, adding, “Frankly it was questionable whether if we could do casework for her. She was not a U.S. citizen.”
For the initial story, click here.
Fairfield city and township police chiefs
Fairfield Twp. hired Robert Chabali as its new police chief in July, nearly four months after the unexpected resignation by former chief Matt Fruchey.
Fruchey’s resignation came a month after a police officer had his cruiser stolen following a traffic stop. Fruchey and township leaders say that was not a factor in the decision.
Chabali, who served as Dayton’s assistant police chief from 2012 to 2015, was selected out of 15 applicants for the job.
Then in October, Fairfield Police Chief Mike Dickey announced he’ll retire at the end of February. Nine applied for the position. Six were called in to take a civil service exam, and on Thursday the Civil Service Commission narrowed that list to five, all of whom will be interviewed.
The next chief will take his oath of office on Feb. 26.
Fairfield city and township elections
The result of the Fairfield City Council race wasn’t decided until a couple weeks after the Nov. 7 general election.
Ron D’Epifanio was the top vote-getter, but the next two seats up for election were in question on Election Night.
Council members Chad Oberson and Bill Woeste’s lead over former councilman Terry Senger was within a half percent. After the automatic recount, the results remained the same.
Councilman Bill Woeste received the third-most votes and was only nine votes ahead of former council member Terry Senger, who finished in fourth. That difference was within a half percent, which state law calls for an automatic recount.
Fairfield Twp.’s trustee race was more decisive with Susan Berding and Shannon Hartkemeyer being re-elected as Fairfield Twp. trustees.
The two incumbents were elected back to the board over political newcomers Ben Bultman and Pete Bohrofen. Bultman’s candidacy was somewhat controversial as he was asked to resign in 2013 after allegedly divulging information contained in private emails to a former township employee.
Berding and Hartkemeyer received 29.6 percent and 28 percent of the vote, respectively, according to official results from the Butler County Board of Elections.
Bohrofen finished third with 21.4 percent and Bultman finished fourth with 21 percent.
Fairfield fire promotions
Fairfield Fire Department promoted Randy McCreadie and Tom Wagner to deputy fire chief, and Jamie Ruhl to fire captain back in October. These promotions helped stabilize the administration. The three administration positions solidify the administration and Bennett said allows the city to rein back some of the administrative duties that had been disseminated over the past decade to shift employees, who would be on duty for 24 hours and off for 48 hours.
McCreadie and Wagner were promoted from captain and lieutenant, respectively, and are the first deputy fire chiefs since the retirement of former Deputy Fire Chief Dennis “Denny” Glenn a decade ago.
Ruhl was also a lieutenant.
The department recently hired three firefighter/paramedics — Mark Bittner, Kyle Schauer and Andrew Wilkens — and is in the process to promote two from its ranks to lieutenant.
For more on this story, click here.
Fairfield bans marijuana & Oberson’s application
Fairfield City Councilman Chad Oberson voted in April against allowing medical marijuana businesses in Fairfield, but he was also among the 185 applicants seeking one of the limited state-issued cultivation licenses.
Oberson, owner of Oberson’s Nursery and Landscapes, was one of four proposing a marijuana grow site in Monroe. He proposed to the state to build a multi-million dollar indoor grow facility on a 32-acre piece of vacant land on Baker Drive off North Garver Road.
Oberson did not land one of the 12 Level I licenses, which would permit up to 25,000-square-foot marijuana cultivation area.
Oberson was part of a 6-0 vote in April to ban the cultivation, production and selling of medical marijuana in the city. He said his application in Monroe was purely “a business decision.”
For the story, click here.
Walter Herbert may have just been 6 years old but was a superhero for many.
After all, the Fairfield Central Elementary student, who died from cancer on Oct. 6, was known by many as “Superbubz.”
Fairfield Schools Superintendent Billy Smith said “anyone that had the pleasure of meeting Superbubz will remember his bright smile that could light up any room. He showed the courage of a true superhero as he fought a hard and brave battle against cancer.”
Herbert was honored by many in the region, from police departments to Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto. Fairfield City Schools even held a high school graduation for “Superbubz.”
Mercy Nurses save parking lot heart attack victim
Steve Moore, 50, of Fairfield, likely would be dead today if just one in a series of events on July 1 didn’t happen.
Moore was walking to his car after just finishing a workout at the Mercy HealthPlex on Mack Road when he began to feel sick. Thinking he might be coming down with the flu, he decided to go back into the HealthPlex to get a drink and have a seat until his nausea subsided.
He didn’t make it. He had suffered a massive heart attack.
A woman visiting her son inside a room in the cardiovascular unit saw Moore lying face down on the ground, half on the sidewalk and half in a driveway. She yelled for help.
Kathy Harvey, a registered nurse, thought something was wrong with the patient but her attention was guided to Moore. That’s when she bolted outside, bringing Amber Preston, a respiration therapist, with her. As Harvey headed outside, she directed the hospital operator to call 911 for an ambulance.
For their actions, Harvey and Preston received proclamations from Fairfield Mayor Steve Miller, and keys to the city.
“Amazing is an understatement,” Miller told the Journal-News in October after honoring Harvey and Preston. “Significant is an understatement. You saved a life and the life is right here with us,” said Mayor Steve Miller during City Council’s Sept. 25 meeting. “In today’s society, all you hear is the negative and bad. Tonight, here we have the good.”
For the complete story, click here.