House speaker’s ‘Boy Scout’ reputation comes with murky past

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — There were some whispers among the Republican caucus that Bob Cupp should be the person to lead the Ohio House. It was 2018. The federal investigation into the previous House speaker had left the dais empty for months and the chamber at a standstill.

But Cupp, who has served in all three branches of state government, demurred. It wasn’t the right time.

Fast forward two years and two House speakers, Cupp’s moment had arrived. The conservative Republican and former Ohio Supreme Court justice was elected July 30 to lead the House in what the state Attorney General says will be “the greatest challenge of his career.”

The house speaker remains one of the most powerful political posts in state government. The speaker has the ability to block or move legislation in addition to helping determine how the state spends billions of dollars earmarked for health care, education, criminal justice and other government programs.

Cupp takes reign over the House during an unprecedented moment of division and tribulation for Ohio and the nation. His predecessor, fellow GOP state Rep. Larry Householder, was indicted earlier this summer on federal bribery charges in what prosecutors called the ‘largest bribery, money-laundering scheme’ in state history.

Cupp, a 69-year-old anti-abortion, pro-gun rights conservative, took Householder’s seat by one vote in the GOP-controlled House, with every single Democrat and a few Republicans voting against him.

Following Cupp’s

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Community garden flourishes in New Brighton, thanks to Boy Scout Troop 76 and H.E.A.L.T.H. for Youths

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Volunteers gathered on a crisp, sunny Saturday morning at the Skyline Community Garden in New Brighton, still in full bloom, to celebrate their gardening efforts over the last three years and the vegetables that are thriving and feeding the community.

Members of Boy Scout Troop 76, in conjuction with the non profit H.E.A.L.T.H. for Youths, have refurbished a former bocce court located on the corner of Clyde Place and Prospect Avenue, planting and nurturing a community garden.

“Over the years we have been working with various groups,” said Watson Kawecki, Troop 76 Scout Master, based in Christ Church on Franklin Ave, also in New Brighton. “It’s not strictly our garden; it’s a community garden.

“Troop 76 is a five-year-old troop trying to keep the flame of scouting alive. Some of that is service. Some is giving to the community. And some of that is building up the skills you need in society.”

The youngest of Troop 76, Stefan Offenberg, 11, seemed pleased with the reults. “I helped remove weeds from the garden and other stuff that didn’t belong in the space,” he said. “I was happy to help because you can never have enough help with projects like this one.”

The vegetables of the garden, including zucchini, broccoli, summer squash, cucumbers, bunnernut squash, peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes, are free to neighborhood families, thanks to the efforts of the non-profit, H.E.A.L.T.H. for Youths.

“Troop 76 and six dedicated volunteers have tended to this beautiful garden from March to October for many seasons, providing the neighborhood with fresh vegetables in what was once an abondoned bocce court,” said Jim Logan of the NYC Parks Dept. “The space is now a beautiful setting for the area’s residents to visit and picnic on the surrounding benches.”

Volunteer Charlotte Hewitt agrees, noting that Troop 76 works hand in hand with H.E.A.L.T.H. for Youths, a non profit headed by Heather Butts. “Our garden is open to the public and I’m proud to say we have eradicated the weeds,” said Hewitt.

“She brought the plants, planted them, and I plotted out four-foot beds. The scouts volunteered with their parents and did the watering and weeding. We have been going strong ever since.”


H.E.A.L.T.H for Youths, Inc is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit formed for the charitable and educational purposes of assisting youth. The organization strives to combat community deterioration and juvenile delinquency, improve the quality of education, health care and life-skills training offered to adolescence and young adults.

“Skyline Community Garden wouldn’t be where it is this year without the help of Troop 76 this year,” said Heather Butts, founder and H.E.A.L.T.H for Youths. “We started it three years ago with help from Partnerships for Parks, Parks Department and Greenthumb.”

H.E.A.L.T.H. for Youths is also the steward for several different gardens on North Shore, including Hillstreet Garden and Snug Harbor Garden, according to Hewitt.

(Dr. Gracelyn Santos/Staten Island Advance)

Charlotte Hewitt explains the procedures involved in the refurbishment of the New Brighton community garden. (Dr. Gracelyn

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Janesville man sentenced to prison for sexually assaulting 9-year-old boy in bathroom behind school

JANESVILLE, Wis. — A 20-year-old Janesville man found guilty of sexually assaulting a boy was sentenced to prison Thursday.

Dakota Potts was sentenced to six years in prison but will receive 637 days of sentence credit, meaning he has about four years and three months to serve in prison.

Potts was sentenced to nine years of extended supervision in Rock County Court. He was convicted of second-degree sexual assault for assaulting a 9-year-old boy in a bathroom near the football stadium at Wilson School Park in 2018.

Potts will be on the sex offender registry for life.

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