Kathleen Williams

July 17, 2019

Clermont County Commissioners agree to settlement – Hicks vs. Clermont County lawsuit

BATAVIA, Ohio (July 17, 2019) — Clermont County Commissioners have agreed to a settlement in a case filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, captioned Hicks v. Clermont County Board of Commissioners et al., S.D. Ohio Case No. 1:17-cv-00677. (“Federal Action”).

Mr. Christopher Hicks sued the County and others claiming they did seven things wrong.  Five of the claims were dismissed, three by the judge and two Mr. Hicks dismissed himself.  Mr. Hicks was requesting money to pay his attorney fees and some money for himself.

The two remaining claims related to a July 26, 2017 Commissioners meeting and the Rules of Procedure for Commissioner Sessions.

Prior to the July 26, 2017 Commissioners meeting, Mr. Hicks had spoken at two other Commissioners meetings.  The morning of July 26, 2017, before the Commissioners meeting, Mr. Hicks sent an email to the Commissioners advising what he wanted to speak about at the meeting. At the Commissioners meeting, then Board President, David Uible, under the belief that Mr. Hicks wanted to speak about things that he had spoken about previously and things that were not germane to County business, did not permit Mr. Hicks to speak. When Mr. Hicks was asked to be seated, he refused and was removed from the meeting.

The claim related to the Commissioner’s Rules of Procedure for Session was specific to the language in the Rules that contained language used in Ohio law relating to the disturbing a lawful meeting.

The settlement agreement authorized by the Board of County Commissioners on July 17, 2019, states that the Clermont County Board of Commissioners admit that, while not being disruptive, Mr. Hicks’ First Amendment right to freedom of speech was violated when he was not given permission to speak during public participation and was removed from the Board Session meeting on July 26, 2017. The Board of Commissioners will be enjoined from removing persons from a Board Session meeting on the grounds that the person made an utterance, gesture, or display which outrages the sensibilities of the Board and from authorizing the Board President to determine whether a speaker’s remarks outrage the sensibilities of the Board at a session meeting.  Those restrictions are of no consequence in that the relevant language was previously removed from the Board Rules in January 2019.

In addition, his attorneys and Mr. Hicks will receive $145,000 for attorney fees and compensatory damages and $1,500 for court costs and Hicks’ expenses in the Federal Action.

Clermont County Board President,   David Painter stated, “It’s very unfortunate that in today’s world we can’t talk out our differences. Lawsuits have become the medium whereby discussions are held and great wealth is obtained from the pockets of tax payers.” (Video of Commissioner Painter’s comments will be available on www.clermontcountyohio.gov.)

The County has been advised that Judge Timothy S. Black, U.S. District Court; Southern District of Ohio will file a contingency dismissal of the lawsuit as a result of the settlement.

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July 2, 2019

State offers disaster recovery funding to plant cover crops on flooded acreage

BATAVIA, Ohio (July 2, 2019) — Extreme weather conditions like the recent excessive rains and tornados have negatively impacted Ohio farmers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service(NRCS)  will invest $4 million to help Ohio agricultural producers recover. Technical and financial assistance is now available to producers who were unable to plant their crops, or who have experienced crop loss due to flooded or wet fields. This sign-up is an opportunity for farmers to plant a cover crop.

To apply for this special Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) opportunity, farmers in Clermont County should contact either Lori Lenhart, NRCS District Conservationist, or Jenna Swanson, NRCS Soil Scientist, at (513) 732-2181 ext. 3. Applications will be accepted beginning July 1, until funding is exhausted.

“NRCS can be a valuable partner to help Ohio landowners with their agricultural recovery effort,” said State Conservationist Terry Cosby for NRCS in Ohio. “This special sign-up encourages farmers to plant cover crops to improve water quality and soil health, prevent soil erosion, and suppress weeds on areas not planted to crops.”

NRCS will utilize EQIP for this special disaster recovery sign-up. EQIP is a voluntary conservation program that helps agricultural producers protect the environment while promoting agricultural production.

Cover crops provide an alternative to fields going fallow and remaining uncovered. Cover crops also improve soil vitality by adding nutrients and organic matter. Many fields that are saturated for a long period of time face a loss of soil organisms. Cover crop roots reestablish soil health and create pathways for air and water to move through the soil, which is key to restoring it.

There are significant changes with cover crops and the state wants producers to be successful in their 2020 planting year. Educational cover crop workshops and field days are readily available throughout Ohio to learn more. Additional information is also available on the NRCS website and farmers.gov/prevented-planting.

Landowners should coordinate with other USDA farm agencies when participating in related programs. It is a producer’s responsibility to work directly with their insurance agent and Risk Management Agency (RMA) to ensure they understand their policy.

 

July 1, 2019

Commissioners appoint acting County Engineer

BATAVIA, Ohio (July 1, 2019) – In a special session today, the Board of County Commissioners today voted 3-0 to appoint Jeremy P. Evans as acting County Engineer.

Evans, a Union Township resident, has served as traffic engineer in the Clermont County Engineer’s Office since 2005. He has Ohio Professional Engineer and Ohio Professional Surveyor registrations, a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Cincinnati and a Land Surveying Certificate from Cincinnati State College.

Evans has been responsible for managing more than two dozen construction projects totaling more than $15 million. His experience includes providing project management, public engagement and administrative support to the Clermont County Transportation Improvement District. Prior to joining Clermont County, he served as a traffic engineer for several private firms in Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio.

“Jeremy brings a wealth of experience in a wide variety of areas such as coordination of bridge replacements, landslide repairs, traffic signal improvements, road widening, intersection improvements, new roadway construction and public involvement program support,” said David Painter, President of the Board of County Commissioners. “He has proven himself while providing budget and personnel management, including internal staff and multiple consultant teams, to ensure successful delivery of projects.”

Evans indicated his interest in the position in a June 30 letter to the Board of County Commissioners.

“Obtaining this position has been a career goal of mine since working for this office during my college years,” said Evans, who served as an engineering co-op for Clermont County, 1996-98. “It would be an honor to serve the community in this capacity.”

In accordance with Ohio Revised Code Section 305.02, the Board of County Commissioners may appoint a person to serve as the acting County Engineer and to perform the duties until such time as an engineer is appointed by the Republican Central Committee.  State law requires that a county engineer have Professional Engineer and Professional Surveyor certifications in the State of Ohio.

Commissioners also accepted the resignation of County Engineer Patrick J. Manger, effective June 30, 2019. He submitted his resignation letter to the Commissioners on June 28.

Manger on June 28 pled guilty in Clermont County Common Pleas Court to soliciting or accepting improper compensation for utilizing Clermont County Engineer’s Office resources for political and personal purposes, according to Warren County Prosecuting Attorney David P. Fornshell. As part of the conviction, he is prohibited from holding any public office or public employment for seven years, and is required to reimburse Clermont County taxpayers $3,000 in restitution. His sentencing is scheduled for July 16.

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June 28, 2019

Commissioners schedule special session to consider appointment of acting engineer

BATAVIA, Ohio (June 28, 2019) – The Board of County Commissioners have scheduled a special session for 10 a.m. Monday, July 1, to consider the appointment of an acting county engineer.

The board’s agenda also calls for accepting the letter of resignation of Clermont County Engineer Patrick J. Manger, effective June 30, 2019.

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June 28, 2019

Commissioners receive resignation from County Engineer

BATAVIA, Ohio (June 28, 2019) – The Board of County Commissioners today received a resignation letter from County Engineer Pat Manger, effective June 30, 2019.

In accordance with Ohio Revised Code Section 305.02, the Board of County Commissioners may appoint a person to serve as the acting County Engineer and to perform the duties until such time as an engineer is appointed by the Central Committee.

“The Board of County Commissioners will promptly consider its option to appoint a qualified engineer to serve the citizens of Clermont County in accordance with the statute,” Chairman David Painter said. State law requires that a county engineer have Professional Engineer and Professional Surveyor certifications in the State of Ohio.

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June 27, 2019

Family Recovery Court helps mom begin sobriety

BATAVIA, Ohio (June 27, 2019) — Years of alcoholism and drug addiction pushed Barbara Pingleton to the brink of losing her children when she arrived at Clermont County Family Recovery Court last year.

“To think that you are where you are today is truly amazing,” Judge James A. Shriver told the mother of three during the court’s sixth commencement ceremony today. “I must say that you have done exceptionally well.”

Judge Shriver then turned to Gavin, 15, Delainna, 13, and Hayden, 11, and congratulated them on their success. County commissioners, court officials and child protective workers joined family and friends in smiles and applause.

Barbara proudly stated that all get great grades in school and achieve perfect attendance. She told the gathering that notes from her children tucked in her monthly planner keep her motivated. One read: “Mom, I’m so proud of you. You’re doing a great job. Keep it up.”

“Kids, you have a great mom,” Judge Shriver said. “I think you recognize that.”

All three nodded, showing the smiling faces prominent on a poster board of photos Barbara brought for her graduation remarks.

Barbara credits Family Recovery Court for giving her much-needed accountability. The court, which began in 2014, works to reunite families, as parents complete a rigorous program. The program requires weekly appearances before Judge Shriver, as well as frequent drug screens. Parents must submit weekly letters detailing their activities, which comprise a journal that is returned to the parents when they graduate. They must attend AA or similar meetings. They receive treatment. They must have a job and secure stable housing.

“One day at a time and by the grace of God, I’m sober today,” Barbara said. “I owe a lot to the Eastside Center (an AA clubhouse), my sponsor and a lot of meetings. My passion today is service, giving back.”

Barbara, 38, started drinking at age 13. She was addicted to alcohol, speed and pills for 15 years. Her life included many toxic relationships, depression, suicidal thoughts and relapses — until her recovery began more than 300 days ago.

“I would put a smile on my face, even though I was dying inside,” she said. “I never thought I would be able to live a life sober. It was so scary.”

Barbara finished her remarks by holding up certificates she has earned for various milestones. For example, she’s been employed for more than a year.

Judge Shriver urged Barbara to keep the momentum going.

“This hasn’t been the easiest thing,” Barbara said. “I’ve gone through so many changes, but I’m not alone. It’s teamwork.”

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June 20, 2019

Clermont County to resurface and repair 36 miles of roads

BATAVIA, Ohio — Commissioners yesterday awarded a $2.28-million bid to Barrett Paving of Middletown to resurface about 19 miles of roads and repair another 17 miles. Barrett Paving submitted the lowest and best bid, according to the County Engineer’s Office. Work is expected to begin later this month on these roads:

Full paving and repair

Airport Road (From Patterson Road to SR 125)
Bootjack Corner Road (From Brown County Line to SR 133)
Ferris Road (From McMann Road to Bach-Buxton Road)
Laurel-Nicholsville Road (From SR 232 to SR 222)
Manila Road – north (From Woodville Pike to Goshen Road)
Manila Road—south (From Cedarville Road to Woodville Pike)
Oak Corner Road (From Bethel-Maple Road to SR 125)
Sodom Road (From Bethel-Maple Road to Brown County Line)
Twin Bridges Road (From Lake Access Road to SR 133)
Woodville Pike—east of Goshen Road (From Goshen Road to SR 727)
Woodville Pike—west of Goshen Road (From SR 132 to Goshen Road)

Spot repair

Bethel-Concord Road (From Twin Bridges Road to Dead End)
Bethel Concord Road (From SR 133 to Dead End)
Burdsall Road (From Jackson Pike to Brown County Line)
Clough Pike (From Batavia Village Limit to Amelia-Olive Branch Road)
Garrison Spurling Road (From SR 727 to Warren County Line)
Goodwin School House-Point Isabel Road (From SR 133 to Mount Olive-Point Isabel Road)

Spot repair and curb only

Summerside Road (From Old SR 74 to Beechwood Road)

Curb only

Amelia-Olive Branch Road (From Clough Pike to Judd Road)

About half of the revenue for the 2019 Road Resurfacing Program comes from the $5 increase in vehicle registration fees, which the Commissioners approved in 2018. This allows roughly $1 million more per year to flow into the Engineer’s Road Improvement Program, increasing the number of miles that will be repaved each year.

Also, a recently enacted 10.5 cents-a-gallon increase in Ohio’s gasoline tax — the first increase since 2005 — is expected to generate an additional $1.5 million a year for each of Ohio’s counties. Townships, villages and cities will also see additional revenue from the gas tax increase.

The Engineer’s Office is responsible for about 400 miles of county roads and 416 bridges in Clermont County. Funding comes exclusively from Ohio’s gasoline tax, which is divided equally among all 88 counties, no matter the population, and annual vehicle registration fees. Each county receives about 70 percent of the vehicle registration fees generated in their county.

In 2018, the county Engineer’s Office received $7.2 million vehicle registration fees and $2.3 million in fuel tax revenues.

In 2020, the first full year that increased revenues will come from the fuel tax increase, the Engineer’s Office is expected to receive $8.2 million in vehicle registration fees and $3.8 million in fuel tax revenues.

The additional revenue from the vehicle registration fee will be used exclusively for road resurfacing, reducing the paving cycle from the current 38 years to 22 years. The additional gas tax revenue will address deficient bridges.

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June 14, 2019

Sheriff Leahy receives OACBHA CARES award

Columbus, OH (June 10, 2019) – Today at Ohio’s 2019 Opiate and Other Drug Conference: Promoting Solutions for Addiction Throughout Ohio, the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities presented the CARES awards to six outstanding first responders and frontline workers. Clermont County Sheriff Robert S. (Steve) Leahy was presented with a CARES award.

Sheriff Leahy was nominated for this CARES Award by Karen Scherra, the Executive Director of the Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board.  A total of five individuals serving in Clermont County were nominated for awards by members of the Clermont County Opiate Task Force.

According to the nomination, Sheriff Leahy has been an incredibly strong supporter of the behavioral health system, assuring that inmates in the county jail are assessed and linked to treatment upon release. Thanks to Sheriff Leahy, Clermont County was one of the first counties in the state to have Deputies carry naloxone. He has supported the Community Alternative Sentencing Center (CASC), housed in a section of the jail, that provides treatment, including MAT, to individuals who agree to participate. He has also worked with the community to implement a Quick Response Team in Clermont County.  For Sheriff Leahy, this issue is also personal. He has family experience with addiction and instead of hiding that experience, he has used it to fight stigma and to illustrate that addiction can happen to anyone.

The three Clermont County Commissioners, Claire Corcoran, Ed Humphrey, and Dave Painter, and several members of the Clermont County Opiate Task Force who were at the conference attended the luncheon at which the award recipients were recognized.

The CARES Awards were presented to first responders and front-line workers who have gone above and beyond in helping individuals, families and their community to deal with the adverse effects of Ohio’s opiate epidemic. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Director Lori Criss, RecoveryOhio Director Alisha Nelson, OACBHA President Elaine Georgas, and OACBHA CEO Cheri L. Walter presented the awards.

With a registered attendance of more than 1,200 individuals, Ohio’s 2019 Opiate and Other Drug Conference: Promoting Solutions to Addiction Throughout Ohio is one of the premier events in Ohio addressing issues related to opiates and other drugs.

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June 13, 2019

11 community projects recommended for CDBG funding

BATAVIA, Ohio (July 13, 2019) — Eleven projects throughout Clermont County, totaling $852,881, have been recommended for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding. A 30-day review period begins June 13 and a public information session will take place at 2 p.m. July 1 in the third floor conference room of the Clermont County Administration Building located at 101 E. Main Street in Batavia.

Recommended projects include:

  • Amelia-Olivia Branch Road Sidewalk Repair in Batavia Township, $75,115
  • Walnut Street Improvements in the Village of Felicity, $102,500
  • Broadway and 4th Street Sidewalk Improvements in the Village of Williamsburg, $125,368
  • Walking and Bike Path in the Village of Moscow, $128,477
  • Fire Station #32 Improvements – Phase 1 in Monroe Township, $112,946
  • Owner Occupied Home Repairs by People Working Cooperatively, $50,000
  • Septic Rehabilitation Program by Public Health, $100,000
  • CASC – Substance Abuse Treatment by Clermont County, $71,000
  • Fair Housing Administration (Housing Opportunities Made Equal) by Clermont County, $15,000
  • Union Square Playground Park Project in the Village of New Richmond, $36,000
  • Community Building Backup Generator in Franklin Township, $36,475

Printed copies of the draft Annual Action Plan are available for public inspection at the Clermont County Department of Community and Economic Development, 101 East Main Street, 3rd Floor, in Batavia, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday. Written comments must be received by July 12. Submit comments to Sherri Cmar, Grants Coordinator, Clermont County Department of Community and Economic Development, 101 East Main Street, 3rd Floor, Batavia, Ohio 45103.

The CDBG program, administered through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), provides grants to cities and urban counties to help spur economic development. The grants are primarily targeted toward assisting low-income families and can also help with infrastructure needs.

Each year, communities in Clermont County apply for grants, which are then reviewed and ranked, Cmar said. The Board of County Commissioners then submits the list of projects to HUD for review. HUD then submits the projects to Congress for final approval. Environmental reviews for each project are still needed before the funds are released.

“CDBG funds allow local communities to leverage their dollars and often provide for much-needed infrastructure,” said David Painter, President of the Board of County Commissioners. “This is an effective tool for many of our smaller jurisdictions that don’t have the resources to maintain critical facilities serving the public.”

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June 7, 2019

Volunteers wanted for Ohio River Sweep on June 15

BATAVIA, Ohio (June 7, 2019) – Clermont County-area volunteers are needed to help with the region’s portion of the 3,000-mile Ohio River Sweep litter cleanup, 9 a.m.-noon, June 15.

Local volunteers, please report to:

  • Chilo Lock #34 Park (adults or teens only)
  • Moscow boat ramp
  • Neville boat ramp
  • New Richmond riverfront bandstand
  • Indian Mound campground

Wear clothes that can get dirty and closed-toe shoes. Organizers will provide trash bags and a limited number of gloves. Each volunteer will receive a free T-shirt.

The Ohio River Sweep extends the entire length of the Ohio River and many of its tributaries. This important regional event addresses a global problem: litter in our waterways. It connects people to the Ohio River and encourages stewardship of this important resource.

“Rivers and streams provide 65 percent of our nation’s drinking water and 88 percent of Cincinnati’s drinking water,” said Penny Greenler, Clermont Country River Sweep coordinator. “By participating in the River Sweep cleanup effort with others in your community, you can help make your Ohio River a safer, healthier place for wildlife and people.”

Thousands of volunteers from Pittsburgh, Pa., to Cairo, Ill., will clean up the 3,000 miles of Ohio River shoreline. The cleanup involves more than 100 locations in six states. It’s coordinated by the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) and state environmental agencies.  See www.ohioriversweep.org for more information.

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