Mike Boehmer

September 19, 2019

Dam removal restores river to more natural state in Batavia

Thanks to the efforts of the Valley View Foundation, Clermont Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) and the Village of Batavia, the segment of the East Fork Little of the Miami River that flows through the heart of Batavia has been restored to a more natural state following the removal of a low-head dam, which has impeded the river since the 1940s.

Similar to other Depression-era dams built across the nation, the Batavia dam was constructed to provide a local water source. Batavia ceased utilizing the dam for such purposes years ago and the defunct structure remained imbedded in the river, degrading habitat and posing a significant threat to the public.

Low-head dams can be dangerous, as people who recreate on or near the structures risk injury and drowning. Dubbed as “drowning machines” because of the turbulent, circulating waters that can trap people at the toe of the dam, many communities are opting to remove these structures to improve public safety. Over the last 30 years, 50+ dams have been removed across Ohio, including two dams in the East Fork watershed; one located on the East Fork Little Miami River in the Village of Williamsburg and another on Solomon Run, an East Fork tributary near Fayetteville.

The dam removal and river restoration in Batavia was funded through Ohio EPA’s Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program (WRRSP), a program created in 2000 that uses interest monies from Water Pollution Control Loan Fund (WPCLF) sponsor projects to fund preservation and restoration of the state’s water resources. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also contributed funds to improve river habitat, specifically for fish and endangered mussel species. Removal of the dam provides immediate habitat improvements and over time, the diversity of fish and mussel species will also improve.

Activities to remove the dam began with a notching of the structure on Sept.  4 to lower river levels and relocate mussels found behind the dam and along the newly exposed banks.

Removal of the dam is now complete and instream restoration is in the works.

Upon completion of the project later this month, Clermont County residents will enjoy safer recreation along the river and the East Fork will flow freely for 20 miles to its confluence with the Little Miami River near Milford.

September 16, 2019

Free online tool helps combat property fraud

BATAVIA, OH – FraudSleuth, an online tool to combat property fraud, is available for free through the Clermont County Recorder’s Office.

FraudSleuth, powered by Kofile Technologies, helps protect property owners against possible fraudulent activity. Similar to credit monitoring services, FraudSleuth can automatically alert users when a document is recorded in their name.

Users can run a simple name search to see what documents are recorded within the Clermont County Recorder’s Office containing their information. A new feature of the tool allows citizens to set up name profile(s) and receive automatic email alerts if a document is recorded that matches their profile information. This allows citizens to be involved and help combat possible fraud. Citizens can utilize the information to then contact the proper authorities.

Anyone can sign up for this service at www.recorder.clermontcountyohio.gov/search. You will have to create an account AND set up at least one FraudSleuth name profile to start receiving email alerts. The system will only alert you of documents recorded in your name starting from the date that the profile was actually created. Instructions on how to fully utilize FraudSleuth can be found on the website.

Please be aware that there may be other property owners in Clermont County with the same name. A notification simply alerts you whenever a document is filed containing a certain name. It does not necessarily indicate that fraud has been committed.

If you have questions or suspect fraudulent activity, please call the Recorder’s Office at 513-732-7236 or email recorder@clermontcountyohio.gov and for help getting guided to the proper agency.

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September 13, 2019

Leaders celebrate opening of distribution facility

BATAVIA, Ohio – Officials from all levels of government joined executives from Design Within Reach, a furniture and home accessories company, Duke Realty and the Clermont Chamber of Commerce to mark the opening of a huge distribution facility at South Afton Industrial Park, the first property developed on SR 32 and Half Acre Road.

“We’re very pleased to celebrate the opening of the second-largest industrial building in Clermont County,” Commissioner David Painter said. “Design Within Reach employs more than 100 people in this $17-million, 617,760-square foot distribution center. It’s second in size only to the former Ford plant, which was built almost 40 years ago.

“We’re honored to welcome Design Within Reach as the first business to locate in the South Afton Industrial Park – a 242-acre shovel-ready industrial park in Williamsburg Township. South Afton Industrial Park is owned by the Clermont County CIC with the intent of bringing more jobs to Clermont County.

“We appreciate the commitment of Duke Realty, which built the facility and purchased 46 acres at South Afton. We firmly believe that South Afton Industrial Park will spur development in the eastern half of Clermont County. Our investment will pay off for all of Clermont County.

“Our partners have included Williamsburg Township, the Williamsburg Local Schools and the Village of Williamsburg. This team has made things work.

“As government, we don’t create jobs, but we can help create an environment that will lead to new jobs.

“We’re thankful Design Within Reach for selecting Clermont County. We wish you much success in the future.”

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About South Afton Industrial Park: A 242-acre industrial park at the southeastern corner of State Route 32 and Half Acre Road in Williamsburg Township. The land was purchased by the Clermont County CIC (Community Improvement Corporation) in February 2016 for $4.9 million, using proceeds from the Ivy Pointe development in Union Township. The CIC has invested $2.7 million in infrastructure at South Afton. An economic impact study by the Economics Center of the University of Cincinnati estimated that the industrial park would eventually create more than 1,800 direct jobs and more than 1,600 indirect jobs. Read more here: www.southafton.com.

About Design Within Reach: Design Within Reach, Inc., founded in 1998 and headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, sells its furniture and accessories to residential and commercial customers. It is a subsidiary of Herman Miller, Inc. More information can be found here: http://www.dwr.com.

About Duke Realty: In the Cincinnati metro area, Duke Realty owns, manages, or has under development nearly 10 million square feet of industrial properties. Nationally, Duke Realty Corp. owns and operates 150 million rentable square feet of industrial assets in 20 key U.S. logistics markets. Duke Realty is publicly traded on the NYSE under the symbol DRE and is listed on the S&P 500. More information about Duke Realty Corporation is available at www.dukerealty.com.

For more information on South Afton Industrial Park and this project, contact Adele Evans, jaevans@clermontcountyohio.gov, 513.732.7912.

September 11, 2019

First Annual National Recovery Month Family Night Out Celebration, Sept. 24

BATAVIA, OH (Sept. 11, 2019) – All are welcome to celebrate the First Annual National Recovery Month Family Night Out Celebration 6-8 p.m., Sept. 24, at Veterans Memorial Park, 906 Clough Pike, Cincinnati OH 45245.

The celebration, sponsored by the Opiate Task Force of Clermont County and Clermont Recovery Center, will feature food, family fun games and information about recovery.

National Recovery Month is celebrated every September to increase awareness and understanding of mental health and substance use disorders – and to celebrate the people who recover.

September 10, 2019

Would you like to serve on the Clermont Library Board?

BATAVIA, OH (Sept. 10, 2019) — The Clermont County Common Pleas Court is looking for a member of the community to fill a vacancy on the Clermont County Library Board of Trustees. The term of the appointment runs from Oct. 1, 2019-Dec. 31, 2020.

Trustees must be registered voters in Clermont County, will serve without compensation, and must be able to attend meetings that are typically scheduled for 6 p.m. the third Monday of each month at the Union Township Library. Members of the community interested in the position should submit a brief resume and a letter stating their interest in becoming a library trustee. Send the resume and letter to Clermont County Common Pleas Court, c/o Court Administrator, 270 East Main Street, Batavia, Ohio 45103. Applications for the position are due by Friday, Sept. 27, 2019.

With 10 branches throughout the county, the Clermont County Public Library is governed by a seven-member board of trustees appointed by the Board of Clermont County Commissioners and Judges of the Common Pleas Court. The board, in turn, hires the library director and fiscal officer who implements policies and monitors operations.

September 9, 2019

County experiences two large water main breaks

BATAVIA, OH (Sept. 9, 2019) — Clermont County experienced two big water main breaks this past weekend.  In order to repair both breaks, customers along Behymer Road, Whiteoak Road from Behymer to Merwin Ten Mile, Locust Corner Road west of Behymer, Locust Run Road, Locust Hill Road, and Triple Crown Estates Subdivision experienced interrupted water supply on Sept. 8 and 9.  About 175 homes were without water.

Other customers in Pierce Township, Union Township and Batavia Township may have experienced reduced water pressure and/or discolored water.  We are currently flushing hydrants to help address any discolored water complaints.  There is no boil water advisory.

In order to avoid a very large outage (which would have affected thousands) we implemented our contingency plan, increased water production at the BMW Water Treatment Plant and opened emergency cross connections with Cincinnati Waterworks.

We sincerely apologize for the extended water service interruption.  We also recognize that we need to improve our methods of updating our customers, particularly for extended water service interruptions such as this past weekend.  Moving forward, we plan to train additional staff to perform website updates and rely on the county’s Office of Public Information to post information to social media.

September 9, 2019

Behind-the-scenes work strives to address aging water system

BATAVIA, OH (Sept. 9, 2019) — In today’s world, many take their drinking and cleaning water for granted. You turn on a kitchen faucet, washing machine or garden hose, and water flows. You don’t really think about it.

But there’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes to ensure Clermont County’s water keeps flowing efficiently. For example, there’s a fairly large project in the county’s 2019-2023 Water and Sewer Capital Improvement plan: the Milford Hills Drive and Brooklyn Avenue Area Water Main Replacement Project.

“This is a very common type of project for our department,” said Ainsley Knapke, a project manager in the Clermont County Water Resources Department. “The pipes are almost 60 years old, and it’s a high pressure area. So they’re more likely to break. We’re replacing the original water mains that were installed in 1959.”

Clermont County Commissioners this summer approved a plan that helps Clermont County continue to proactively address its aging water and sewer system and accommodate for future economic development. Lyle Bloom, director of the Clermont County Water Resources Department, had proposed the department’s 2019-2023 water and sewer capital improvements to the Commissioners.

Water Resources Department capital projects are funded through fees charged to water and sewer customers, as well as state and federal grants. In 2018, Clermont County had the third-lowest combined sewer and water cost in Southwest Ohio in an annual survey conducted by the City of Oakwood. Sixty-three counties and municipalities participated in the survey.

Clermont County’s water distribution system consists of about 808 miles of water main installed since 1954. About 200 miles were installed more than 50 years ago, with some approaching life expectancy of 75 years.

To address the situation, the 2015-2020 strategic plan includes replacement of 20,000 feet per year. In 2019, Water Resources is spending more than $4 million on water construction projects in Miami Township and Goshen Township alone.

The Milford Hills Drive and Brooklyn Avenue Area Water Main Replacement Project, one of several water main replacements in the county scheduled to begin this year, got the go-ahead on July 24. Commissioners awarded the job to Smithcorp, Inc. of Cincinnati, which submitted the lowest and best bid of $768,106.00. Five other firms submitted bids for the work.

The 6-inch cast iron and ductile iron water mains along Milford Hills Drive, Beechwood Lane, Ridgewood Lane, State Route 28, Brooklyn Avenue and Brooklyn Lane were installed in 1959 and 1978. They have reached the end of their useful life, as evidenced by frequent water main breaks, especially within the last five years.

In 2017, the Commissioners executed an agreement with Brandstetter Carroll Inc. of Cincinnati for design of the project. The design includes replacement of about 7,000 feet of existing water main with 6-inch and 8-inch ductile iron water main. Along with the design, behind-the-scenes work such as getting permits and easements also took place.

In May, the Commissioners approved a request to advertise for bids in June, resulting in the winning bid by Smithcorp. A pre-construction meeting took place before work started.

Digging began in mid-August, with the project scheduled for completion by Jan. 31. An inspector from the Water Resources Department visits the site daily.

Before switching services to the new main, Water Resources Department staff will complete pressure and bacteria testing. They’ll wrap up the project by restoring pavement and lawns.

“This project, in conjunction with our 5-Year Capital Improvement Plan, will ensure the preservation and promotion of the public health and welfare and will provide improved water service for the surrounding area for consumption and fire protection,” Knapke said.

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September 5, 2019

State and county officials to recognize award winners

BATAVIA, OH (Sept. 5, 2019) — Prior to its 76th Annual Meeting and Banquet on Thursday, Sept. 12, the Clermont Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) will hold a press conference to honor its 2019 Cooperator and Educator of the Year award recipients.

During the press conference, which starts at 5 p.m. in the Multi-Purpose Building on the Clermont County Fairgrounds, 1000 Locust Street, Owensville, Ohio, various state and local elected officials will present certificates of recognition to the award recipients. Confirmed presenters include State representatives John Becker and Doug Green, Gov. Mike DeWine’s Southwest Ohio Liaison Jason Gloyd, and a member of the Clermont County Board of Commissioners. Clermont SWCD will present its awards during the Annual Meeting, which will begin at about 6 p.m.

For more information, please contact John McManus, Clermont SWCD District Administrator, at (513) 732-7075 ext. 3, or at jmcmanus@clermontcountyohio.gov.

Information on Clermont SWCD Award Recipients:

Cooperator of the Year – Louise Gartner

Louise Gartner operates a five-acre organic farm in Monroe Township. In two short years, she went from a small vegetable garden to raising organic crops under four high tunnels.  She plans to construct two more large high tunnels in the near future to further expand her beets, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, peppers, potatoes and zucchini production.  Louise has worked with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to construct the high tunnels and other conservation practices, including cover crops, integrated pest management, nutrient management, and a drainage system around the high tunnels.  She now has a very productive operation, selling to a local food Co-op based out of Cincinnati, as well as an upper-end grocery store chain.  Louise devotes much of her time to educating and training others.  She has hosted various educational tours for groups, such as National Farm to Table conference and the Turner Farm, which has a Veteran to Farmer Training Program.

Educator of the Year – Meri Johnson

Meri Johnson is an educational consultant whose services have been invaluable to Clermont Soil and Water Conservation District and local schools. She has trained hundreds of teachers in Ohio and has been actively involved as a science education advisor for several local universities, the Ohio Department of Education and the National Science Teachers Association. Prior to this, Meri worked as Clermont County’s Science Curriculum Specialist for the Educational Service Center. She also taught at Clermont Northeastern High School for 13 years and Batavia High School for nine years. During that time she taught biology, environmental science, outdoor science, anatomy and physiology, AP biology and physical science. She was also the sponsor for the Envirothon, Clermont Science Challenge and Academic Quiz Teams. Meri also served on the Clermont SWCD Board of Supervisors for 12 years. She considers herself to be very fortunate to have a career that allows her to share her passion of science and outdoors with her adolescent and adult students in an interesting, valuable and encouraging way.

 

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September 4, 2019

Rigorous Family Recovery Court helps parents overcome major challenges

BATAVIA, OH (Sept. 4, 2019) — Childhood trauma. Criminal history. Homelessness. Unemployment. License issues. Family history of addiction.

It’s common for parents of kids 18 and younger to come to Clermont Family Recovery Court with all of these daunting challenges.

“The parents face much more than treatment alone,” Judge James A. Shriver said.  ”There are many layers in recovery. They must re-establish themselves in many ways, including finding employment, establishing housing, taking care of legal matters, and creating a sober support system to maintain them, while at the same time attending Substance Use Disorder treatment.”

The specialized docket under Judge Shriver was one of the first of its kind in southwestern Ohio when it started on Nov. 13, 2014. Clermont County Family Recovery Court was based on the drug court model, which emphasizes treatment over punishment.

People come to the court at the breaking point. They’ve burned all bridges. They need accountability.

“This program is hard, but if people really follow through they will be successful,” said Angie Livesay, the court’s coordinator. “We tell them to expect devoting at least the next year of their life to this.”

On average, the program takes more than a year to complete. Families (couples or individuals) voluntarily enter Family Recovery Court. Sixty-two percent of those who participated six months or longer have reunified.

“Addiction is losing your children; it’s fighting for your life,” Lorraine Brock, who graduated last year, said in the Clermont Sun. “When you have people who are willing to be there and help you and say, ‘Hey, do something. We’ve got your back, but you gotta do it…’ If I don’t take care of myself, there is no mom…”

Requirements include attending frequent court hearings, Substance Use Disorder treatment, random and frequent drug screens, meetings with a case manager, calling and checking in regularly, attending AA or similar sober support meetings and getting a sponsor or mentor, having income, establishing housing, taking care of criminal matters and getting a driver’s license.

Seventy percent of participants lacked safe, sustainable housing where their child(ren) could be returned to when the parent entered the program. Eighty-four percent of participants who lacked housing established it during their time with the court.

“People who do better take responsibility,” Judge Shriver said. “They make a plan. They find a good support system. They change their belief system.”

Participants work closely with a recovery coach, who helps them get started attending 12-step or similar meetings and makes herself available to talk.

At her graduation in June, Barbara, a 38-year-old mother of three, credited Family Recovery Court for giving her much-needed accountability.

“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.”

Livesay said: “She was committed to recovery, to attending meetings, to building a community of support. Participants are more likely to succeed when they totally focus on and put great effort into their recovery.”

“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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August 30, 2019

Commissioners approve funding for school suicide prevention programs

BATAVIA, OH (Aug. 30, 2019) — County Commissioners this week approved about $20,000 in funding from Clermont County Family and Children First (FCF) for suicide prevention services for five school districts.

  • Milford High School – 9th Grade Community: $1,500 to support Ending the Silence Day (50-minute prevention and early intervention presentation by The National Alliance on Mental IIllness-NAMI that engages students in discussion about mental health)  and $500 to support Hope Squad’s Hope Week (school-based peer-to-peer suicide prevention program for students to improve mental health education, reduce stigma, reach students quickly, normalize help-seeking, educate and engage parents in suicide prevention programs). Will impact 542 students.
  • West Clermont Middle and High Schools: $1,903.60 to support Hope Squad training/supplies and $3,670 to support WEB/Link Crew activities.  WEB (Where Everyone Belongs) is a program to support the transition to sixth grade. Eighth-grade students are trained as mentors/student leaders to support and guide sixth graders to discover what it takes to be successful during the transition. Student leaders are also trained to look for bullying behaviors and report it. Link Crew focuses on the transition to ninth grade. Juniors and seniors are trained to be Link Crew leaders/mentors. Students make real connections with each other which increases school safety and reduces the incident of bullying through anti-bullying education. Will impact 2,000-plus students in high school and 1,400-plus in middle school.
  • Williamsburg High School (9th grade): $1,000 to support Freshman Kick Off Day — a day filled with fun learning activities to welcome students to the ninth grade, teach appropriate expectations, help students to reconnect with peers after summer, and help students feel positive about coming back to school. Will impact 93 students.
  • Goshen Middle and High Schools: $9,500 to support Hope Squad.  Impact not available.
  • Miami Valley Christian Academy (9-12 grades): $2,000 to support Hope Squad. The academy received partial funding to implement the Hope Squad program as MVCA has almost 50 percent of their students coming from Clermont County.  Will impact 140 students.

Besides the suicide prevention activities that FCF supports, the Clermont County Mental Health & Recovery Board supports other suicide prevention programs through its funds and through ENGAGE 2.0 funding.  Also, the Milford-Miami Township Drug Free Coalition is supporting suicide prevention activities in Milford.  They have worked together to ensure resources don’t overlap.

FCF has funded suicide prevention program for many years. Initially, FCF funded schools to implement the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, as it’s known that bullying can lead to suicide. Then, FCF switched to the schools asking for funding for specific programs that they would like to implement.

The Clermont County Family and Children First Council was established in the mid-nineties in response to Section 121.37 of the Ohio Revised Code. Clermont County FCFC is comprised of government agencies, community stakeholders and parents, committed to improving the well-being of children and families through the strategic coordination of resources. Councils are designed to draw people out of their day-to-day systems to align resources and activities around a shared vision for Ohio’s families and children to thrive and succeed.

FCF receives state and federal funds for some programs, but most of its funds come from local contributions – from MHRB, Juvenile Court, JFS/CPS, BCC, Public Health, Clermont Recovery Center/GCBHS and Board of Developmental Disabilities.  All of the funds that FCFC uses to support suicide prevention programs are local monies.

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