All posts by Richard O Jones

After 25 years as journalist specializing in arts/entertainment and community reporting, I now divide my time between True Crime Historian and keeper of the community news and information blog Hey! Hamilton! I am also the blogmaster for the Butler County Historical Society and the Hamilton Parks Conservancy.

A Light in Lindenwald: A Chat with Debbie Doerflein

People Helping People/Making a Difference


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13340721_1702474433338858_915505936_oHEY!Hamilton! Contributing Editor and Correspondent Emily Simer Braun sits down with Debbie Doerflein, owner and proprietor of Heaven Sent on Pleasant Ave. in Lindenwald to discuss the celebration of the 21st anniversary of the neighborhood anchor business, Heaven Sent, and of her own trials, tribulations, and triumphs through the years.

Heaven Sent is a multi-faceted business with a history and a heart for home.  A cafe, gift shop/bookstore, floral shop, bakery, catering service, banquet hall, and wedding chapel, are occupied in the two buildings on Pleasant Avenue.  Debbie customizes all orders and services to personal needs, requests, and budget.  Her policy is a very personal touch.

Friday Gospel Fest is a new venue, and the bookstore/card and gift shop are brightly revitalized.

Twenty-one years ago, Debbie Doerflein felt called to be “A Light in Lindenwald”. She continues to shed light in the community and has dreams for a Heaven Sent future.

For further information, check, or call (513) 856-7368.


Photos by Grace Sandlin

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May 21 Run at Miami Regionals to Benefit Student Veterans

Miami University Regionals will hold the 2nd annual 5K Run for Vets to on the Hamilton Campus 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 21st.  The proceeds from the run will benefit student veteran programs at the Regionals through support and service. The run will begin at Miami Hamilton and follow a flat road course from University Blvd. to Neilen Blvd. and back.

 Early registration will occur through May 20 with day-of-registration opening at 7:30 a.m. The cost to register is $20 for early registration, $25 for day-of-registration and $15 for all veterans.

Participants will receive a race shirt and post-race refreshments. If you register early you will receive a second t-shirt the day of the race.

This event is sponsored by Marcell’s Inc. Towing & Used Parts, Flub’s, AMVETS POST 1983, Hamilton Joes, Trenton Tactical, Discover Auto Center Inc., Liberty Center, M&G Body Shop, Planet Fitness, Ross Bakery, Hamilton High School, Miami Hamilton Athletics, Hamilton Police Department, and Miami University Hamilton’s Student Veterans Association.

For more information or to pre-register, contact Quentin Jones at or visit .

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Conservancy Series to Bring More Entertainment to the RiversEdge Stage

The Hamilton Parks Conservancy announces the premiere of The Conservancy Series, four programs bringing live entertainment to the RiversEdge stage during the summer of 2016.

This is in addition to the
Free Concerts on Thursday evenings
and  other events organized by the
City’s Resident Services Department.

The series begins 6 p.m. June 26 as the Hamilton-Fairfield Symphony Orchestra and Chorale presents “POPS! Goes the Symphony.”  The orchestra will perform selections from some of America’s most beloved music, from Leonard Bernstein to George Gershwin, including music from the movies “Jaws” and “Indiana Jones.” As a special treat, soloists from the Chorale will perform vignettes from “Oklahoma!” in costume. This event sponsored by MillerCoors.

Everybody in town knows the Klaberheads from their annual appearances at the Hamilton Oktoberfest, but their chops extend far beyond oom-pah, and they will perform 7 p.m. June 30 in a Big Band format. The Franz Klaber Orchestra has been entertaining local audiences for over 80 years, and this third-generation iteration under the direction Erika Klaber promises the same fun and surprises  provided by her father and grandfather. Sponsored by Dr. and Mrs. Kenneth Wehr.

The Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival returns to RiversEdge for its popular Free Shakespeare in the Park Series. This time, they’re bringing the classic tragedy “Macbeth,” a play full of political intrigue, family drama–and ghosts! The command performance will be 6 p.m., August 17. Sponsored by an anonymous Friend of the Parks.

The Conservancy Series season ends September 17 with the return of Signs of Life – The Essence of Pink Floyd, back by popular demand. A Signs of Life show captures the music, mood, emotion and excitement of a Pink Floyd concert. Eight talented musicians and a production team are dedicated to reproducing the vast and spacious Pink Floyd “essence” – arguably one of the most musically accurate Pink Floyd tributes anywhere. Their shows use authentic sound effects, engaging video and dynamic lighting effects to recreate the classic Pink Floyd feel. Showtime will be 8 p.m. Sponsored by Jim & Sue Fitton, Gerry Hammond, and the Courtyard By Mariott. 

For more information on the Conservancy Series, please call 513-785-7055 or visit us at on the internet.



Walking on Mars: Dementia education through a play written by nurses.

Miami Regionals nursing faculty member Ann Bobonick has teamed up with her mentor Patricia Irwin, a nurse therapist and former Miami faculty member, to write a play to explore issues surrounding the growing prevalence of dementia.

“When Everything Looked So Dark” will get its premiere Thursday night in a Miami University Hamilton Theatre production. “The initial concept was Pat’s idea,” Ann said, but she is glad to have been a part of its development.

Performances will be 7:30 p.m. April 21, 22 and 23 in the studio theater in 307 Phelps Hall. All three shows are sold out.

“Asking me to help write a play was like asking me if I would walk on Mars with her,” she said. “I had never done anything like that. I don’t consider myself creative.”

She had known Pat for many years—both members of the Sacred Heart Church in Fairfield– and it was upon Pat’s advice that she got into nursing in the first place, “so how could I say ‘no’ to this lady?”

Pat said her first exposure to Alzheimer’s disease came around the time she got married when her Uncle Pete was suffering with it, and since then through her practice she has encountered many other cases with clients struggling with relatives who have the disease.

“There are five million active dementia cases right now in America,” she said, “and in ten years there will be thirteen million because we are living longer.”

She began working on the play five years ago to explore some of these issues. She came up with the idea of exploring a family in crisis, when a young man who is struggling to find direction in his life is suddenly confronted with the loss of his mother and is being pushed into taking care of his grandmother–Grandy–who has dementia.

“Grandy had said to her daughter, ‘Never put me in one of those places,'” Pat said, which is a common stance. “He chooses to keep his mother’s promise to not put Grandy away, so he sleeps at her bedside and learns a lot about who he is.”

Three years ago, she shared the concept with Bridget Ossman, a friend who is a teacher-turned-playwright and who encouraged her to continue working on it. Ossman coincidentally, is the sister of Bekka Eaton Reardon, Associate Professor in theatre at Miami Hamilton.

“Pat had heard me talk about teaching geriatric nursing at Miami,” Ann said, “and how the students and I lost our hearts to the people we served. It was then that she asked me to co-author the play.”

Over the next year, Pat and Ann would meet intermittently to create and develop the scenes. A new character was added, the girlfriend of the caregiver who would bring in her geriatric learning as a nursing student in to support Russell’s caregiver journey.

“When Everything Looks So Dark” comes from a lyric in the Johnny Mercer song “Accentuate the Positive” by Johnny Mercer, “because that’s what Russell learns to do with Grandy,” Pat said.
Directed by Bekka Eaton Reardon, the cast includes Miami Hamilton students Tyler King and Hannah Rastopsoff and Pat Napier, long-time theatre practitioner.

Each performance will be followed with a talk-back and panel discussion that will include a different slate of professional and personal caregivers each night.

“The arts can get deeper than more traditional teaching methods to help people learn,” Ann said. “If this goes further, perhaps it could be used to help train personal or professional caregivers.”

“It was a revelation, a gift to see it coming to life through these actors,” Pat said, “more than we expected.”

“To have them do this is beyond our wildest dreams,” Ann added. “It goes so much deeper when you see it coming through the actors.”


Making a Difference: Halle Gudgell

Miami Regionals’ student Halle Gudgell is full-time mother, full-time student, full-time community advocate.

Halle Gudgell didn’t plan on going to college right out of high school, and she didn’t plan on staying in Hamilton. But since she did, the Miami Hamilton campus and the entire city–if not the entire community–are enjoying the fruits of her unexpected journey.

Halle’s “Plan A” in high school was to join the United States Navy as Military Police when she graduated in 2014, and since she goes all-out when she goes, she was a leader in the Hamilton High School NJROTC program.

Halle speaking at Hamilton High in Mrs. Huff's class about getting involved with Seat at the Table and how important it is to get involved in your community.
Halle speaking at Hamilton High in Mrs. Huff’s class about getting involved with Seat at the Table and how important it is to get involved in your community.

“I felt it was my duty as a citizen to serve and put my time in, to give back to my country,” she said. “Anybody can tell I’m a very patriotic person. I’m all about the red, white and blue, and my friends all make fun of me.”

But halfway through her senior year, she got pregnant, and switched to “Plan B”, a degree in criminal justice from Miami University Regionals with the goal of becoming a civilian police officer.

As it often happens, however, a class opened her eyes to another path. In Halle’s case, it was a Political Science class in her very first semester.

“One of my professors said that if you want to see change, you have to make a difference yourself,” she said. “Basically, if you can’t beat them, join them. Politics is the way our country is run, regardless of how corrupt it may seem.”

A friend in that class enlisted her aid in starting a new group, Student Association for Law and Politics.

“So we started that last year,” Halle recalled. “We hosted a Meet the Candidates Night at Miami Hamilton Downtown and a voter registration event. We even took a group to Washington, D.C. for a tour.”

“We hosted an event called Politics and Pizza where students can come in and voice their opinion, talk about what’s on their minds, and we provide the pizza,” she said. “There aren’t a lot of places you can go to discuss these things without being judged.”

In a busy life, being a mother is one of the most rewarding things and in the end, her son Clayton is Halle's motivation.
In a busy life, being a mother is one of the most rewarding things and in the end, her son Clayton is Halle’s motivation.

During her freshman year, she decided to run for the Miami Senate, but soon raised her sights higher to the executive level and ran for secretary of the student government. She had her campaign all planned out with posters and candy give-a-ways so that she could reach out to her fellow students, so even when her opponents dropped out of the race, she followed through on the campaign, and she won. A year later, she was elected president of Miami Hamilton’s Student Government Association.

She also helped start a local program for the community called Seat at the Table, a nonprofit organization to promote voting and to get people registered.

“From there it took off to trying to get people more civically engaged in their community,” she said. “Right now, we’re working inside the high schools to build programs to help against the heroin epidemic. We’re connecting them with local officials, helping them build change in their community.”

“Back in June, we had a summit where Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller and other officials came in and spoke to the students about getting involved and making change.”

Halle is also active in the Criminal Justice Society, a student group that has hosted events like jail tours and recruitment nights to open a light on opportunities in the criminal justice field.

Because of her lingering interest in the military, she also got involved in campus programs to help veterans, and from there her efforts began to spread off campus and out more into the community.

At a veteran’s awards ceremony at the Voice of America Learning Center, she met State Representative Tim Derickson.

“After the ceremony I introduced myself and invited him to a veteran’s dinner for the Nicholas Olivas Fund,” she said. “We stuck around for an hour talking. He’s come and done other veteran’s events.”

When Derickson decided to run in the Republican primary for the Congressional seat vacated by John Boehner, she joined that campaign and now spends her weekends knocking on doors and making phone calls to voters throughout the Eighth District on Derickson’s behalf.

And if that isn’t enough, she’s also joined forces with a group of community activists who are trying to raise awareness of one of the city’s neglected parks, Combs Park along the Great Miami River near the dam in north Hamilton.

“I started working on this in October and when the weather warms up we’ll jump on it again,” she said. “I’ve gone out there several times. I didn’t realize how big that park was and how much potential it has.”

All this, in addition to being a young mother, keeps Halle busy. But she has the energy and the drive to be the change she wants to see in the world.

She still plans on a career in law enforcement when she graduates in 2018, but she also sees herself actively involved in politics.

Does that include running for office?

“Maybe,” she said. But just then her vice-president, standing nearby and listening in on the conversation chimes in: “Most definitely!”

‘An Attractive Park on Hamilton’s River Front is Now Being Planned’

Hamilton Parks Conservancy

As we prepare to break ground on Marcum Park this spring, an article from the Hamilton Evening Journal from February 1, 1916 reminds us that our city has long had the yearning for a garden spot on the river.

As the article notes, the plans for this park included a bandstand just a block or so away from where our RiversEdge Amphitheater now draws thousands of citizens for concerts and programs.

Plans for this proposed park were short-lived, however, as the site would be excavated for the widening of the river channel, and at a meeting two days later, Miami Conservancy Engineer Arthur Morgan put the kibosh on it.

Below the clipping of the map is the complete text of the article and a description of the imagined park.

Hamilton Evening Journal February 1, 1916
Hamilton Evening Journal
February 1, 1916

J.E. Freudenberger, landscape architect of Dayton, has just completed an elaborate plan for a park system in Hamilton, which was submitted during the last week to the commission in the Butler County capital, named for the purpose of preparing a plan for the adornment of the Miami River Bank north of the new High and Main Street bridge and on the east bank of the river.

The plan calls for the beautification of the land as far north as Dayton street for two squares. The old Hamilton hydraulic will pass through the land proposed to be beautified, but this will be in part covered by a handsome bridge. A pergola is to be built at the north end of the park with a bandstand between it and the hydraulic bridges.

Attractive walks will lead from High Street and also from Monument Avenue into the park, and shrubbery, flowers and grasses will add to the decorative scheme. At the intersection of High Street and Monument Avenue, a wide attractive entrance will lead to the park, which is almost two acres in extent. It is designed to give the Hamilton public a spot for recreation. The tract was formerly used as a dump and has been an eyesore for many years.

According to Mr. Freudenberger, the park will be one of the most attractive small parks in the state.

Hamilton Evening Journal
February 1, 1916