A Liberty Township civil engineer has received his professional surveyor’s license.
Dale Schwieterman also holds a professional engineer’s license he received in 1998, making him the second individual in the Butler County Engineer’s Office to hold dual licenses.
“We’re proud of Dale’s accomplishments,’’ said Butler County Engineer Greg Wilkens. “To achieve his goal of holding both a professional engineer and a professional surveyor (licenses) requires many years of additional education and experience.”
Schwieterman joined the engineer’s office in 1996 as a design engineer and was appointed deputy engineer in 2005.
Prior to working for the county, he earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Cincinnati in 1994 and worked at Hazelet and Erdal Inc, an engineering design firm.
During his time in Butler County, Schwieterman has worked on many major projects including the Liberty-Fairfield Road bridge over the Great Miami River, several upgrades along the Union Centre Boulevard corridor, and improvements to Muhlhauser Road.
Liberty Twp. voters will be asked in May to renew a five-year police levy that pays for protection by the office of Butler County Sheriff Rick Jones, along with the township’s share of the cost of a school resource officer at Lakota East High School (in the background). / File photo/The Enquirer/Tony Jones
LIBERTY TWP. — Voters here will be asked in May to renew a five-year police levy that pays for protection by the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.
First approved in 2004, the 3-mill levy was replaced in 2009 and expires at the end of this year, said Kristen Bitonte, township administrator.
After considering three options –– renewing the levy for five years, replacing it with a 3-mill, five-year levy or replacing it with a 3.5-mill, five-year levy – trustees on Tuesday chose the least expensive option for taxpayers and voted to put it on the May 6 ballot.
That option was also recommended by the township’s finance committee.
“By renewing it, we’re getting the most bang for our buck,’’ said Trustee Tom Farrell.
The levy is expected to bring in $2.35 million annually, slightly less than the $2.5 million the current levy raises. That difference is because property valuation in the township dropped from $847 million to $784 million, according to figures provided to the township from the Butler County Auditor’s Office.
If approved, taxes would remain $184 annually on a house with a $200,000 value, Bitonte said.
A seven-year financial forecast shows that if the levy were renewed, there would be enough money to pay the cost of the contract with the sheriff’s office with no changes through 2020, with a $1 million ending balance that year.
Mitchell Simon, 16, of Liberty Township, was indicted Wednesday on attempted murcher charges. He is accused of setting fire to his parents’ Tarragon Court home in an effort to kill them. / Sheila McLaughlin / The Enquirer
Sheila McLaughlin reports:
A Liberty Township honor student accused of trying to burn his parents alive in their home now faces prosecution as an adult.
A Butler County grand jury has indicted Mitchell Simon, 16, on two counts of attempted murder and a single charge of aggravated arson, according to a grand jury report released Wednesday. Simon turns 17 on Jan. 30.
Each charge carries a sentence of three to 10 years in prison.
Simon was a junior at Lakota West High School last October when police said he confessed to setting a fire in front of his parents’ separate bedroom doors at their home on Tarragon Court after tying the doors shut.
His parents Sharon and Perry Simon escaped. They are supporting their son despite the allegations.
A Butler County juvenile judge transferred the case to a grand jury because of Simon’s age and the severity of the charges.
Simon first told a detective that he was trying to kill himself but chickened out when he set the fires. He later admitted that “he wanted to inflict as much pain as humanly possible on those who caused him to feel the way he felt about himself,” according to earlier testimony in juvenile court.
He had kept a journal, which was displayed at the juvenile court hearing, in which he ranted about his parents, especially his mother. It also contained an illustration of a house with the words “burn parents alive” underlined.
Simon’s attorney Brad Kraemer maintains that his client’s real intention wasn’t to kill his parents. Instead, he said it was so that the parents couldn’t stop Simons from harming himself.
Liberty Township Trustee Christine Matacic was re-elected president of the Liberty Township Board of Trustees. File photo/Sue Kiesewetter
A familiar face will lead the Liberty Township Board of Trustees.
For the fourth consecutive year, Christine Matacic was re-elected president during the group’s organizational meeting Thursday. Trustee Tom Farrell was elected vice-president, replacing trustee David Kern.
A nearly 33-year resident of the township, Matacic was re-elected to a fourth term as trustee two months ago. She also served as president of the board from 2003-2007.
Matacic is serving or has served on the following boards of directors: Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments; Butler County Regional Transit Authority; West Chester-Liberty Chamber Alliance and the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority.
Farrell and Dale Chalk will serve year on the Volunteer Firefighters’ Dependents Fund for 20143. Farrell will replace Kern as the board’s representative to the Butler County Emergency Management Agency’s Advisory Council.
Trustees are continuing their meeting schedule – the first and third Tuesdays of the month, at the administrative offices, 6400 Princeton Road.
Homeowners in 17 subdivisions in Liberty Township may see their property rezoned from agriculture to residential next year.
Township trustees have begun the process to rezone certain parcels in the southeast and southwest quadrants of the township – basically lots located south of Millikin Road.
Properties being considered are those fewer than five acres, now zoned agriculture, that are located in subdivisions. Under consideration is rezoning those properties to the newly created residential estate or one of the other residential classifications.
The move, officials say, will make it harder for a communications tower to be built in a subdivision and it would have zoning match the use of the property.
Changing the zoning would not affect how the property is taxed or how it could be used in most cases, said Jon West, the township’s director of planning and zoning.
“Property is taxed how it’s used, not how it’s zoned,’’ West said, citing a letter from Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds, Liberty Township’s former fiscal officer.
Before anything is rezoned it would go before the Butler County Planning Commission, the Liberty Township Zoning Commission, and township trustees.
Each body would hold its own public hearing before a final decision would be made by trustees, in late February or March, West said.
The township has already completed the rezoning process in the northeast quadrant of the township.
Trustee Tom Farrell said he also wants the staff to look at the zoning text to see if it can be amended so this process doesn’t have to be repeated in the future.
“There’s got to be a way to fix this going forward,’’ Farrell said. “It (rezoning) wastes everybody’s time.”
Early next year the process is expected to begin for properties in the township’s northwest quadrant.
It’s a single seat on Lakota Schools’ governing board, but while holding that elected chair no one had more and longer impact on the giant school district than Joan Powell.
Powell’s reign of 16 years on the governing board of Southwest Ohio’s second largest district ends Dec. 31 as she retires from the public office voters elected her to 4 1/8 times since 1996.
Half of those 16 years Powell were spent as school board president, where she guided four other members in overseeing Lakota’s explosive growth transforming the once rural Butler County district into the eighth largest in Ohio.
In Lakota’s 56-year history, only one other board member held a seat longer.
Outside of the five Lakota superintendents during her career who controlled the daily operations of the district, no board member has steered the school system more often than Powell.
And area leaders said she moved the district in the right direction, serving both school families and the business communities in the 63-square-mile district that encompasses West Chester and Liberty townships.
“When navigating tough decisions, I have observed her compass to be her commitment to educating future generations’ citizens, leaders, and workforce,” said veteran West Chester Township Administrator Judith Boyko.
“Joan’s leadership on the Lakota School Board has spanned a decade and a half of expansive, market driven residential growth in West Chester and Liberty Townships. She has always grasped the greater picture and understood the correlation between economic development and a sustainable tax base for the community and the schools,” Boyko said.
Joe Hinson, president and CEO of the West Chester-Liberty Chamber Alliance, said “Joan has played a key role in many projects that have led to Lakota being the excellent performing school district it is today. “
“From transitioning from one high school to two, to increasing the number of school buildings – now totaling 22, from working with five superintendents, to Lakota being honored as a school district of excellence for 11 straight years, Joan has worked tirelessly for our students and our communities of West Chester and Liberty Townships,” Hinson said.
Powell’s longevity on the board has been one of the few constants in an ever-changing Lakota.
Trustees got their first look at a proposed 2014 budget for Liberty Township that shows revenues of $20.4 million in all funds and expenses of $21.3 million.
It includes operating revenues of $11.4 million and operating expenses of $13.1 million.
“I’m pleased with this. It’s a goal as to where we’d like to be next year,’’ said Trustee Christine Matacic.
“It doesn’t mean it will go that way because there are so many vaiables. It’s a moving target.”
Among the big ticket items included in the proposal come from the fire department. That’s where $650,000 is budgeted for a new fire engine to replace a 1999 model; and $200,000 is set aside for an ambulance to replace a 2004 model.
Projects are also slated for the parks where the budget includes money to replace the playground surface and a portion of the playground equipment at Reserves Park along with a new shelter at Dudley Park.
Proposed equipment includes a mowing trailer, a one-ton dump truck, sign truck, and a tractor.
“Just because it gets into the budget doesn’t mean it gets spent,’’ said Pam Quinlisk, fiscal officer.
“None of this stuff is a slam dunk,’’ added Matacic. “Even though we’ve put it in the budget doesn’t mean they’re going to get it. They have to prove the need.”
Administrator Kristen Bitonte said the township would have to go out for bid on large purchases or projects and trustees would then have the opportunity to veto any purchases or projects on a case by case basis throughout the year.
The budget also includes money for a preliminary analysis of all township buildings to determine additional space needs or major repairs.
Money is also included to buy 3,200 tons of salt, road paving, work on Maud Hughes Road, and installation of sidewalks along Yankee and Van Gorden roads along with a crosswalk near the Millikin/Lesourdsville-West Chester roads intersection.
A final draft of the proposed budget will be prepared for adoption at a special meeting set for 8:30 a.m., Dec. 27, at the township administration building, 6400 Princeton Road
Santa and Mrs. Claus won’t let a little snow and ice keep them from Saturday’s Breakfast With Santa at Liberty Heights Church. Provided photo
A little snow and ice won’t stop Santa Claus from meeting with children at Liberty Township’s Breakfast With Santa event.
Organizers say the pancake breakfast with St. Nick will continue as planned, from 8:30-10:30 a.m. at Liberty Heights Church, 7904 Princeton Road.
“Liberty Township has been following the weather forecast and trust the reports that Saturday will be cold, but dry,’’ township officials said in an update today.
Food will be prepared by Eli’s Sports Bar and Grill. Families can come anytime during those hours for a traditional all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast, including bacon, coffee, orange juice and milk.
Families are encouraged to bring a camera to take pictures of their children with Santa Claus. He will arrive at the event on the township’s original 1954 fire engine.
Entertainment will be provided by the Lakota East Jazz Combo, playing holiday music. Children can also complete a craft while they wait to have their picture taken.
Cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children, which includes a $2 donation for every adult ticket and $1 from every child’s ticket, to the Liberty Township campus of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
Attorney Anthony VanNoy, left, with his clients Lisa and Cleveland Cox. The Enquirer/Cara Owsley
Sheila McLaughlin reports:
Two months before a Butler County couple turned their 9-year-old adopted son over to children services, the mother told authorities that she had tried to get the child help and had even considered putting him up for adoption again.
This time the boy was threatening to kill everyone in the house with a steak knife, Lisa Cox told a Butler County dispatcher in an emotional 911 call obtained by The Enquirer.
It was one of many outbursts for the child who had been hospitalized at least twice of psychiatric problems. But this one was the most severe, Cox told the dispatcher just before noon on Aug. 9.
And her other children, age 13 and 5, were home with her while her husband was at work.
“He’s on medication. He’s seeing a psychiatrist. This is the first time he’s gone like this. He’s ransacked my house. We are locked in the bedroom and he keeps disassembling pens,” said Cox, who with her husband Cleveland pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a charge of not paying support for the child.
Cox said the boy needed help.
“But I can’t get it. Right now I have adoption papers on my table … because I’ve tried everything else. Nobody thinks there is anything wrong with him,” Cox told the dispatcher.
“I’ve been trying to put this off. I haven’t wanted it to come to this. I don’t want police cars in my driveway but I can’t help it this time.”
The Coxes remained free Wednesday on $1,000 bonds paid when they turned themselves into the Butler County Sheriff’s Office on Nov. 15. A trial date on the misdemeanor non-support charge is set for Feb. 10.
The Coxes and their attorney Anthony VanNoy also appeared on a dependency case Wednesday in Butler County Juvenile Court, where a magistrate continued future hearings on who gets custody of the child. Neither the Coxes nor VanNoy would comment.
Perry Simon hugs his son Mitchell, who is accused of trying to burn his parents alive in their Liberty Township home on Oct. 24. / The Enquirer/Sheila McLaughlin
Sheila McLaughlin reports:
A troubled 16-year-old honor student accused of trying to burn his parents alive in their Liberty Township home last month will be tried as an adult, a Butler County juvenile judge ruled Tuesday.
Mitchell Simon, a junior at Lakota West High School, first told sheriff’s detective that he was trying to kill himself but chickened out when he set the fire Oct. 24 in front of his parents’ separate bedroom doors after tying the doors shut, a detective testified Tuesday in juvenile court.
Simon later admitted to trying to kill his parents, Butler County Sheriff’s Detective Ron Owens said. Simon fled with a duffel bag full of clothes after setting the fires with gasoline. Simon said he then drove to Lawrenceburg to pick up a girlfriend and planned on “disappearing into the night.” He returned home instead, not knowing that his parents had escaped the blaze.
“He said he wanted a fresh start,” Owens said. “His intent was to inflict as much pain as humanly possible on those who caused him to feel the way he felt about himself.”
Simon told investigators that he was mad because his mother had taken his laptop computer from his room and blamed it on his father who wasn’t even home at the time, Owens said.
Simon is charged with attempted aggravated murder and aggravated arson. His parents Sharon and Perry Simon are supporting him despite the allegations. They hugged and comforted their sobbing son after Tuesday’s hearing before he was taken back to the juvenile detention center.
Juvenile Judge Ronald Craft didn’t have any choice but to send the case to a grand jury in adult court because of Simon’s age – he’ll be 17 in January – and the severity of the charges.
Simon’s attorney Brad Kraemer said his client’s actions were a cry for help and had no appreciation for what he was getting himself into.
“This case has taken on a life that far exceeds what I really think it is,” Kraemer said. “You have a kid who made a statement to detectives and insisted for an hour that he had no intention of hurting his mom and dad. His real intention from the start was so that they didn’t stop him from harming himself.”
Testimony at Tuesday’s hearing portrayed Simon as a disturbed teen.