Dress for Success Mobile Unit coming to Clermont County

BATAVIA, OH — An organization that provides free interview-appropriate clothing (suit, shoes, handbag, overcoat) along with tips and strategies to help women walk into a job interview confidently and professionally is coming to Clermont County.

Dress for Success Cincinnati will bring its Mobile Unit to OhioMeansJobs – Clermont County, 10 a.m.-noon Sept. 24.

Please contact Nikki Stanley at Denise.Stanley@jfs.ohio.gov. She will send an outfit choice questionnaire and register participants.

Dress for Success has been transforming women’s lives for more than 20 years.

“They not only showed me how to dress for an interview,” said one Dress for Success client. “They also prepared me for a life of success!”

Safety Champion: Jeff Smith of Highway Operations

As a long-time member of Clermont County Engineer Highway Operations, Assistant Superintendent Jeff Smith knows well the potential dangers his team faces each day.

“The most dangerous thing is working on busy roads,” said Smith, who started as a highway worker in 2000 before promotions to sign shop foreman in 2010 and to his current role last year. “You’ve got to be aware of your surroundings, especially in recent years with the distraction of drivers due to cell phones. Also, you work around a lot of heavy equipment.”

Highway Operations consists of 39 employees in crews such as Mow and Trim, Ditching, Guardrail, Blacktop, Sign Shop, Culvert and Bridge. They are responsible for 386 miles of road and 421 bridges.

“We want all of our guys to go home after a safe day at work,” Smith said. “That’s our goal. Everyone provides for their family, and we want them to go home without suffering a workplace safety mishap.”

Smith appreciates the support of Gary Caudill, Clermont County Safety Coordinator. Caudill provides pre-hire safety training and checks worksites to ensure safe processes are in place.

“Gary is a big asset to us,” Smith said. “If we’ve got questions, we can call and get an answer. If he doesn’t know the answer, he will do research and get back to us. He makes my job easier.”

Caudill describes Smith as “a safety mentor for his co-workers who follow the philosophy that team member safety is our top priority.”

“Jeff’s commitment to workplace safety gets us closer to a perfect safety record every day,” Caudill said. “His daily contributions for jobsite safety make the Clermont County Engineer Highway Operations a safe place to work.”

Smith concluded: “To me, our job is to provide all the equipment and training our people need to make sure that they get home at the end of each workday.”

Painter named to national leadership posts

BATAVIA, OH — Clermont County Commissioner David Painter has been named to the National Association of Counties (NACo) Board of Directors. He also was appointed Vice Chair of NACO’s Environment, Energy and Land Use Steering Committee.

NACO President Larry Johnson said Painter was “chosen because my goal is to build a talented and committed leadership team.”

“Emerging from the last year of challenges, uncertainty and, in many cases, tragedy, we are ready to thrive,” Johnson said. “My presidential initiative will highlight your service and the important work of your committees in these realms: Technology, Health, Readiness, Infrastructure, Vulnerable Populations and Economic Opportunities. I am counting on you to advance my initiative to make life better for all those we serve.”

Painter said: “It’s a true honor to serve in these important positions. NACo is a great organization that supports counties as they provide vital services that impact the daily lives of all citizens. I feel fortunate to be a part of NACo’s leadership team.”

Commissioners approve Community Development Block Grant Action Plan

BATAVIA, OH – Proposed projects such as fire station improvements, sidewalk construction and septic/sewer remediation are included in the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Action Plan for Fiscal Year 2021. The Board of County Commissioners on Aug. 11 adopted the $1.1 million program.

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides an annual grant on a formula basis to Clermont County to develop a viable urban community by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment, and by expanding economic opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons. HUD awards the CDBG to Clermont County to carry out a wide range of community development activities directed toward revitalizing neighborhoods, economic development, and providing improved community facilities and services.

HUD is expected to approve the Action Plan within 45 days and a grant agreement will be executed with HUD before funds become available. Environmental Reviews of the projects will be completed and agreements will be signed with the successful CDBG applicants.

The program for July 1, 2021-June 30, 2022 includes:

  • People Working Cooperatively, Home Repair Program, $50,000
    This request is for $50,000 in funding to provide home repair services and modifications to low/moderate income homeowners of Clermont County. With leveraged funding from multiple sources, it is anticipated PWC could assist as many as 40-50 LMI households.  PWC has been providing comprehensive housing related services for low income homeowners since 1975. PWC has a staff of 109 individuals which includes skilled and licensed plumbers, carpenters, electricians, roofers, HVAC technicians and others.  PWC would provide these repairs within 12 months of receiving the grant to qualified homeowners.

    “People Working Cooperatively appreciates the Commissioners’ commitment to support our program,” said Brian Weichert, PWC’s director of operations. “The Community Development Block Grant allows us to continue serving those who need our help the most.  These funds will provide home modifications/repairs assistance for dozens of families in Clermont County – helping them stay safe and healthy at home.”

  • Clermont County General Health District, Septic/Sewer Remediation Program, $125,000
    This request continues the support of the Septic System Remediation program, which has been funded since 1988. Funds help very low, low/moderate income homeowners make necessary repair or replacement to failing or malfunctioning septic systems, or to connect to sewers when available.

    “Our septic rehab program has helped many Clermont County families pay for repairs or replacements to their failing septic systems,” said Julianne Nesbit, director of Clermont County Public Health. “These funds are vital to continuing this important program that helps homeowners and also helps to protect the environment.”

  • Clermont County Community Alternative Sentencing Center (CASC), Drug & Alcohol Counseling, $71,000
    This program provides Drug & Alcohol Counseling, CASC is an alternative to jail for misdemeanor drug and alcohol offenders. Clients addicted to heroin and opiates will receive medical-assisted treatment for withdrawal instead of just languishing in jail with no assistance. CASC is funded by the Board of County Commissioners with services provided through Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services and has received state-wide and national attention.

    “All funding received for CASC is driven toward the client experience and ensuring access to services necessary to begin their recovery process,” said Heather Cokl, Director of Addiction Services for Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services – Clermont County. “Our program staff work diligently to deliver a therapeutic environment for clients to begin exploring their path to recovery in the community and wrapping around the supports they might need for that process. Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services is proud to be a member of this community partnership and honored to be able to touch the lives of those who come into our program. Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services is proud to be a member of this community partnership and honored to be able to touch the lives of those who come into our program.”

  • Monroe Township, Fire Station #32, Phase II Improvements, $151,000
    This project would make improvements to the Fire/EMS Station 32 in Monroe Township. The project includes creating offices for the Clermont County Sheriff to cover the township and surrounding area. Addition of a new vehicle bay to permit a third medic unit, addition of dorm rooms for fire fighters and the addition of a community meeting room available to use by residents.
  • Franklin Township, Community Room Remodel/Maintenance Building Addition, $179,000
    This project would fund the addition of two bays to the township Maintenance Garage on Hopewell Rd. This will allow the Township the ability to service and repair equipment and vehicles indoors and provide storage for equipment. This project will also update the Townships outdated Community Room located on the same site. Removal out non-working baseboard heat, adding new HVAC, updating walls, flooring, restrooms. This room is used by various community groups and is in serious need of an update to better accommodate these groups.
  • Batavia Township, Amelia-Olive Branch Sidewalk, $199,000
    The project would result in approximately 700 LF of sidewalk that would connect to an existing sidewalk at 58 Amelia-Olive Branch Road which would head north to Lucy Run Road. The sidewalk would connect families who do not have transportation that live at Crown Pointe Apartments and at the Crossings of Amelia Senior Housing to the Kroger, drug store, restaurants and bus system on SR 125.
  • Village of Moscow, Wells Street Sidewalk, $72,000
    This project involves connecting long neglected areas of the Village with Sidewalk. One will be on Wells street connecting Fifth Street to the Community Center. The other sidewalk will connect Wells Street with the Riverfront Park area. Adding walking access to both of these areas, which have recreation and exercise options of their own, will encourage residents to exercise while providing safe connection to both of these centers of the community.
  • Fair Housing, Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME), $15,000
    This program provides education to residents and realtors and landlords about fair housing laws. Members of HOME’s staff assist people who believe they may be victims of illegal housing discrimination.

For more information about the CDBG program, see: https://clermontcountyohio.gov/community-development/cdbg-overview/


Couple graduates from rigorous Family Recovery Court

BATAVIA, OH — Sarah Duschl and Richard Wirmel admit to feeling a bit nervous when they entered Clermont County Family Recovery Court on Aug. 10, 2020.

“We were scared because we knew that this program was intense,” said Sarah during a graduation ceremony a year and nine days later. She and Richard held their boys, Jacob, 2, and Tyler 1.

Judge James A. Shriver said Sarah and Richard worked hard to build a stable home.

“Sarah maintained employment with the same employer and has advanced in her position at work,” Judge Shriver said. “Richard is a proud stay-at-home father and has shown patience and offers support to others in need.  Richard and Sarah have dealt with many challenges and personal struggles during their journey, but through determination and the support for each other they are now living as a family in recovery.”

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

On average, the program takes more than a year to complete. Families (couples or individuals) voluntarily enter Family Recovery Court.

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.

“Sometimes it feels like you are drowning, but you are not,” Sarah said. “You are succeeding.”

Sarah and Richard got their children back from protective care more than eight months ago. They both have more than a year of sobriety. Sarah got her driver’s license back and Richard is working to do the same.

“You have done exceptionally well, despite all of the obstacles,” said Judge Shriver, before giving graduation gifts such as certificates of outstanding achievement, gift cards to Wal-Mart and Chick-Fil-A, a notebook with progress reports, and a framed family photo.

“We’re in the business of putting families back together,” he said, after showing the framed photo to the happy family.

Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board awards 10 mini-grants to local organizations

The Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board awarded 10 mini-grants to local organizations for the period of July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022. The Mental Health and Recovery Board plans, funds, and monitors mental health and addiction services locally. The grants will fund programs that enhance mental health and/or prevent addiction in Clermont County. The grant applications were initially reviewed by a three-member committee. A total of $30,000 was allocated, with maximum funding per project of $4,000.

The organizations selected for a mini-grant are:

Cathy Barney, Artsy Fartsy Saturdays: To host a book launch event and reunion for past Artsy Fartsy students who have found their voices and creativity, built confidence and self-esteem, and received encouragement throughout the history of the program. The students will each receive a copy of the book, which includes their own stories, words, art, and photographs and will be a tangible reminder they are a vital and valuable part of their community.

Clermont Senior Services, Caregiver Support Group: To provide educational resources for caregivers who make it possible for seniors to remain in their home and out of a long-term facility. The resources will aid the caregivers in developing healthy caregiving skills. Also, to purchase non-medical items that encourage cognitive stimulation/emotional support for seniors who have mild to moderate dementia.

Felicity-Franklin Elementary School, Outdoor Classroom/Family Engagement: To build an outdoor classroom where students can develop a sense of self, independence, confidence, empathy, and self-discipline. Also, to host Family Reading Night and Math Night which promote positive family interactions with the school via the new outdoor classroom. The funds will also contribute to Red Ribbon week at the school, a drug-use prevention campaign to keep kids drug-free.

Goshen Spaulding Elementary School, Safer, Smarter Kids: To purchase a curriculum that is designed to empower elementary school-aged children to protect themselves in situations where someone could abuse them. In addition, to purchase lesson plans that incorporate visual aids to educate children about the importance of body boundaries and personal safety. And lastly for trauma-informed care that supports families and organizations that care for abused children, especially those seeking support within the foster care system.

Inter Parish Ministry, Food Pantry Summer Picnic: To provide groceries, as well as a freshly prepared hot meal for approximately 100 families who are in need, community mental health resource information, and empowerment items. The picnics also provide an opportunity for staff to interact with and meet clients who will hopefully embrace a sense of community and comradery.

Milford McCormick Elementary School, Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (PBIS): To enhance the current PBIS framework by adding a block of time and available resources schoolwide, each day, to explicitly teach skills that promote social-emotional well-being. Activities during these time blocks may include a lesson on resiliency, how to accept disappointment, self-regulation, or expressing emotions appropriately.

Milford Mulberry Elementary School, Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (PBIS): To expand the PBIS program by providing options for behavioral and sensory enrichment outside of the classroom. School staff have designated a room in the building where students can go when they need a break outside of the classroom, away from peers, potential triggers, and other stressors. The grant will be used to equip this room with sensory tools to help the students regroup, recenter, and return to the classroom.

On Our Way Home, Inc., Recovery House Improvements: To enhance the recovery house property and provide an inviting residence for tenants recovering from substance use disorder. The improvements are aimed at making the tenants feel safe, secure, and proud of their new home. In addition, the improvements will help maintain good relations with the neighbors.

SMART Recovery USA, Meeting Handbooks: To purchase SMART Recovery (Self-Management and Recovery Training) handbooks for meeting attendees. The handbooks will provide materials and worksheets individuals can use to achieve their goal of addiction recovery by teaching the four-point program: 1. Building and Maintaining Motivation; 2. Coping with Urges; 3. Managing Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors; and 4. Living a Balanced Life.

West Clermont Holly Hill Elementary School, Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (PBIS): To enhance the current PBIS program by improving designated calming spaces, extra support, and a PBIS incentive program. The grant will help provide resources and self-regulation tools to each homeroom’s “calming corner”- a designated space where a student can retreat to de-escalate. The grant will also provide an extra layer of support for special needs learners through tools and adapted lessons/equipment to help them grow in the area of social and emotional learning.

In addition to the above recipients, the Board has also received permission to use outside grant funding to help support other local programs that submitted mini-grant proposals.

Those award recipients are:

Grant Career Center, Grant Us Hope: To develop a “Hope Squad”- a community of students who work together to learn suicide prevention and mental wellness. Hope Squad is a school-based, peer-to-peer, suicide prevention program for students with curriculum that emphasizes suicide prevention fundamentals, self-care, and anti-bullying.

Safe Harbor of Hope, Tuition Sponsorship: To provide tuition costs for four women to complete their first 90 days in a residential, sober living residence where they can recover from unhealthy lifestyles. The women will receive an individualized program with ongoing assessment and Case Management as well as a support coach. Safe Harbor has no salaried employees and most of its funding is through grants, donors, faith-based support, and fundraisers.

Williamsburg Middle School, Hope Squad Summer Camp: To continue the school’s suicide prevention program and host a summer camp where new members can become acquainted with the expectations and goals of the Hope Squad program. The students will do team building activities, complete suicide prevention and awareness trainings, plan the Hope Squad schedule, and discuss ways to spread awareness for good mental health and suicide prevention.

Additional information on the mini-grant awards, the programs, and about mental health or addiction prevention can be obtained by contacting the Mental Health & Recovery Board at 513-732-5400 or visiting their website at www.ccmhrb.com.

Municipal court accepts online credit card payments

BATAVIA, OH — Tim Rudd, Clerk of the Clermont County Municipal Court, announced today that his office is now accepting online credit card payments for fines and costs on traffic and criminal cases.

Rudd had previously announced on July 19 that his office was taking credit cards over the counter for payment of fines and costs. Working in collaboration with the credit card processing company MSB, Rudd is the first Clerk of Court to accept online and over-the-counter credit card payments in the Clermont County court system. MSB does charge the customer a convenience fee for the use of its credit card processing system.

Online payments may be made at clermontclerk.org. The convenience fees are: 2.19% Credit Card and 1.79% Debit Card.

Rudd said he was both excited and pleased to offer credit card services for the citizens’ convenience at no cost to the county. Rudd also stated that he was extremely pleased that MSB and equivant, his case management vendor, were able to get online payments up and running only three weeks after the start of taking credit cards over the counter.

Mental Health and Recovery Board seeks new members

BATAVIA, OH — Clermont County residents who have an interest in assisting with the direction of local addiction and mental health services in the county are invited to contact the Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board (CCMHRB) about a volunteer position on its Board of Directors.

There are currently five vacancies on CCMHRB’s Board of Directors.

The Board of County Commissioners is responsible for appointing eight members of the board. Five of those positions are filled. Three positions are available.

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OMHAS) is responsible for appointing six board members, with three of those positions filled and one in process. Two positions are available. Priorities for these OMHAS appointments are for a person who has received services for mental health issues or alcohol and/or drug use, a family member of someone who has had a mental health or addiction issue, or someone who is working or has worked in the mental health and addiction field, or who has been involved in advocating for mental health and/or alcohol/drug services.

The selected individuals will be part of a 14-member board representing a variety of interests, including professionals from the mental health and alcohol/drug fields, family members, individuals in recovery, and community representatives.

The board meets monthly on the second Monday of the month at 7 p.m. Members also are involved periodically in meetings for one of two committees – Finance and Program. Terms for board members are four years, and a member can serve two terms.

CCMHRB is the local board of alcohol, drug addiction, and mental health services. It is the county agency responsible for planning, monitoring, evaluating and funding all mental health and addiction services in the county provided through public dollars.

Both the County and OMHAS have application forms that potential Board members must complete, and board staff will provide those to you if interested.

If you are interested in serving on the board, please send a letter of interest and a resume to CCMHRB at 2337 Clermont Center Drive, Batavia, OH 45103 or by email to cknoblauch@ccmhrb.org. For more information, call the CCMHRB office at 513-732-5400.

William “JB” Johnson retires after 39 years in Water Resources

–Submitted by Kevin Saunders of Water Resources and Hannah Lubbers, director of the Clermont County Office of Environmental Quality (OEQ) and the Adams-Clermont Solid Waste District

Staff recently celebrated the retirement of a valuable employee of the Clermont County Water Resources Department after 39 years of service. William Johnson was hired by Clermont County Sewer Laboratory where, back in the 80’s, there was an abundance of William Johnsons employed with the county.

Since a William and Bill were already employed by the Laboratory, he selected JB as his moniker and the beginning of a legend began!

JB was educated at Miami University and obtained a BS in Chemistry and BA in English. This dichotomy in education led to a very unique individual who can, in his own words, “speak to the symbolism in Paradise Lost or describe how a polymerization reaction proceeds due to metal catalysts.”

JB started working in the Laboratory as a technician and rose to the role of Laboratory Manager. He will be retiring with the title of Chemist, but he is the true heart of the Wastewater Lab and we will be losing a technical expert, teacher, and historian.

The one thing JB excelled at was teaching everyone to be a critical thinker and installed a desire to never stop learning. During his tenure, the Laboratory was approved as one of the only Ohio EPA-certified labs in the state and currently services 15 different treatment facilities running analytical chemistry on 14 different tests.

In addition to his practical work accomplishments, JB always brought humor and wit to the workplace. He is a great conversationalist and a fascinating person.

JB has practiced scuba diving, sailboarding, and more recently can often be found practicing his Tai Chi on the banks of the Little Miami River. He’s always prepared to chime into to any conversation with an obscure, but related fact. For example, when discussing best management practices, JB educated us about how in the 1950’s they parachuted beavers into the Idaho backcountry as a conservation effort.

He’s skilled at making mundane work tasks entertaining by bringing levity and interesting pieces of information to the task at hand.  JB’s knowledge, dedication, and sense of humor will be sincerely missed at the wastewater laboratory.

Child Support Awareness Month: County collects millions for families each year

BATAVIA, OH — Ohio’s Child Support Program provides services to more than 1 million children in our state. Clermont County Child Support administers about 12,000 cases and collects $36 million dollars in child support each year.

County Child Support agencies work diligently to ensure that these children receive financial support for a better future. Child Support Month is a national initiative that helps inform families about the services child support agencies can provide in our communities.

“It is such an honor to serve the families of our county and to help protect children from the impact divorce and other types of separation can cause,” said Theresa Ellison, Deputy Director for the Clermont County CSEA.

The Child Support program encourages responsible parenting, family self-sufficiency, and child well-being.  Agencies provide services to locate parents, establish parentage, establish child support and medical support orders, collect and distribute child support, modify orders when circumstances have changed, and enforce orders that are not being paid.

County Child Support agencies provide services to families of all types, from divorcing parents to unmarried parents, to caretaker relatives, to children in the foster care program, and others, regardless of family income.

“This year, we are also focusing our efforts on spreading awareness about the importance of establishing paternity,” Ellison said. “Paternity is a legal determination between a natural father and a child, and it is so important because it can provide both financial and emotional support. Parents can reach out to their local CSEA for more information on this service.”