Paul McKibben reports:
Judge Rachel Hutzel’s legacy in Warren County will reach far beyond the courtrooms where she worked.
When children look into the heavens with a telescope at Camp Joy, they’ll be doing so at the Rachel Hutzel Observatory, which is scheduled to built next year. An opening date has not been set.
Hutzel and her husband, Jeff Blazey, donated the telescope for the observatory. Blazey, an engineer and an amateur astronomer, built the 12-foot long instrument, except the lens and some parts, during the winter of 2009. He proposed donating last year; the donation was made before Hutzel died Saturday of cancer at age 56.
The observatory’s team met on Aug. 18 – a week before Hutzel’s death – to select a name for it.
Warren County Commissioner Pat South, a close friend, said naming the observatory after Hutzel “brought a tear to my eye.”
“She loved this project,” South said. “It’s probably one of those projects that only come around once in a lifetime and to actually see something like this possibly come to fruition here in Warren County, I know that she was just very excited.”
Hutzel was a judge on the Ohio 12th District Court of Appeals (2011-12) and a former Warren County prosecutor (2002-2011). She was the first woman on the 12th District appeals bench and the first woman Warren County prosecutor.
She had the vision for the project early last year, according to the website, warrensky.org. So far, more than $30,000 has been raised for the observatory. Organizers need $120,000. The family asks memorials be directed to the Observatory Fund, Area Progress Council of Warren County, P.O. Box 802, Lebanon, OH 45036.
South said it seems appropriate and indicative of “the true public servant that she was for her last public showing to be on government property.”
David Fornshell succeeded Huztel as Warren County prosecutor. He issued a statement Saturday.
“Rachel was a dedicated public servant and a tenacious fighter to the end,’’ he said. “Although Rachel and I were on the opposite sides of various political battles, we shared a passion for protecting the citizens of Warren County.”