Love of avionics propels Sporty’s president and CEO to greater heights

At 6:45 a.m. on a sunny, 56-degree May morning, Michael Wolf greeted two visitors from the Clermont County Public Information Office. His red 1963 Piper Aztec sat outside a hangar at the Clermont County Airport, ready to take the three on a round-trip 100 miles north to Urbana, Ohio.

The trip would result in additional material for videos about Wolf’s thriving Sporty’s Pilot Shop and his passion for avionics. Sporty’s, based at the airport, provides flight training, headsets and a variety of products for pilots around the world. The 200-employee company also serves as the fixed-base operator for the county airport.

Wolf, president and CEO of Sportsman’s Market, Inc., started working for Sporty’s almost 50 years ago. While still a student at Amelia High School, he was hired by Sporty’s founder Hal Shevers to help with miscellaneous tasks. Shevers, a pilot, recently had brought the young company to the new county airport.
The videos tell the amazing story of Sporty’s and how Wolf worked his way up to president – as well as his journey into piloting. He has flown to locations all over North America, everywhere from the Super Bowl in Los Angeles to the Bahamas.

On this morning, after Wolf and the Public Information specialists climbed into the airplane, he reviewed his flight plan and did safety checks. Soon, the plane was gliding over green woodlands and golf courses, brown farm fields, shimmering lakes, long-stretching highways and orderly subdivisions. The Cincinnati skyline could be seen to the left.

Within minutes, the Piper Aztec leveled off at 3,500 feet and cruised along at 200 MPH. Caesar Creek and Cowan Lake gleamed ahead. Dayton’s skyline and massive Wright Patterson Air Force Base sat to the left.

Then came Springfield, a bustling city with a large reservoir. By 7:29 a.m., the plane had touched down at Grimes Field/Urban Municipal Airport on the edge of the tidy town of Urbana.

The three disembarked and enjoyed breakfast at a vintage diner at the airport before his return journey to Clermont County.

Wolf continually checked instruments and occasionally looked at an iPad to see nearby traffic and review the upcoming landing pattern. The flight took the pilot and passengers over Xenia and State Route 42. Water towers speckled above the terrain as the plane neared Clermont County airport.

By 8:55 a.m., the plane was back at the hanger. Wolf had given the passengers remarkable material and lasting memories.

Watch the video about Sporty’s here:
View the video about Wolf’s passion for avionics here:

Walther named new DJFS director

The Board of County Commissioners last week welcomed new Department of Job and Family Services Director Susan Walther. She comes to Clermont County after serving as director of Warren County Children Services for five years.

Walther began her career as a caseworker at Hamilton County Children Services, 1992-2002. She served as a caseworker, supervisor and deputy director in Warren County Children Services before becoming director.

Walter holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Cincinnati and a Master of Science in Management and Leadership from Western Governors University in Salt Lake City.

“I feel very fortunate to be here to serve Clermont County,” said Walther, who started her duties on June 13.

Volunteers build demo rain garden at local restaurant

Home owners, business owners, and commercial property managers interested in storm water management practices can check out a rain garden at Bite Restaurant, 1279 State Route 131, Milford. Volunteers built the demonstration project on a beautiful Friday morning in June.

Rain gardens use native plants to manage storm water runoff, said Kat Zelak, Education Coordinator, Clermont Soil & Water Conservation District. They help water soak into soil faster, important because of the high clay content here.

“Having storm water more quickly infiltrate the soil through the garden instead of running into streams and rivers allows pollutants to be removed in a natural way,” Zelak said.

Like the garden at Bite Restaurant, most sit at the end of downspouts. Others are located at the end or driveways, in low spots in yards or where the biggest need exists.

Soil & Water reached out to Bite, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in April, about the demonstration project. The restaurant “believes that eating local is part of a bigger picture, the slow food movement,” according to its website. “A movement that believes the future of food is the future of the planet. That food should nourish a healthy lifestyle, and be fresh, seasonal and local. And it provides us with a smaller carbon footprint in the process. We believe in using nontoxic cleaners in the restaurant. Our organic grounds now include a beehive, composting, recycling, and re-purposing bins.”

“They came to me, and I thought it was a great idea,” said Rachel Seeberger, who owns the restaurant with her husband Marc. Bite grows organic vegetables, herbs, fruits, and nuts on its two-acre property. Seeberger noted that she teaches classes on gardening and sustainability to garden clubs and schools. She welcomes having a visual to show how a rain garden works.

Zelak said the rain garden includes strawberries, blue flag iris, yarrow, ashy sunflower, New England aster, bee balm and purple cone flower.

Volunteers from Soil & Water, the Clermont County Office of Environmental Quality and Natural Resources Conservation Service helped plant the garden.

A Greater Cincinnati Rain Gardeners program has started in Clermont, Hamilton, Warren and Butler counties in Ohio as well as Northern Kentucky. The six-week class teaches people how to build their own rain gardens. The next session starts in August. Classes run 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Fridays. See for details.

Clermont County receives more than $1.5 million in state capital funding for community projects

BATAVIA, OH – Clermont County will receive a record $1.55 million for community projects throughout the county through the State of Ohio’s biennial Capital Budget. This marks the third straight two-year cycle that Clermont County has received increased capital funding.

The Clermont County Port Authority, in conjunction with the Clermont County Commissioners, two State Representatives and a State Senator, organizes the countywide effort to encourage local communities and nonprofits to submit projects worthy of capital funds.

The committee has representatives from the Port Authority, city and township government, legislators, businesses and county government. The committee evaluated 23 applications to grade and recommended 12 applications for funding to the legislature.

Representative Adam Bird, Representative Jean Schmidt, and Senator Terry Johnson participated in the process to recommend funding for Clermont County communities. Once the committee recommends projects for consideration, the success of the process rests with Clermont’s three legislators.

Projects receiving funding include:

-YMCA Domestic Violence Shelter East, $250,000. Sponsor: YWCA

-Liberty Landing, Phase II, in New Richmond, $300,000. Sponsor: Village of New Richmond

-Scout Camp Flooding Mitigation in Miami Township, $223,000. Sponsor: Dan Beard Council

-Grant Presidential Sculpture in Monroe Township, $50,000. Sponsor: Port Authority

-Jim Terrell Park Canoe/Kayak Launch in Milford, $190,000. Sponsor: Milford City

-Ohio River Stabilization, Phase II in Moscow, $50,000. Sponsor: Moscow Village

-Clepper Park PIckleball Courts in Union Township, $122,000. Sponsor: Union Township

-Grailville Park Improvements in Miami Township, $260,000. Sponsor: Clermont Park District

-Grant Memorial Building, Phase II in Bethel, $50,000. Sponsor: Bethel Historical Society

-Buckeye Trail East Fork Wildlife Area in Williamsburg Township, $56,000. Sponsor: Williamsburg Township

“We’re extremely pleased that teamwork among the Port Authority, county leadership and state legislators helped bring this funding to Clermont County,” said Bonnie Batchler, President, Board of County Commissioners. “This will continue to enhance our efforts to keep Clermont County a great place to live, work and grow.”

Since 2006, Clermont County has received more than $5 million in capital funding for projects ranging from parking facilities to agricultural improvements as well as historical landmarks and youth activities.

“We are grateful to our state legislators for fighting for and funding a variety of projects that benefit so many people,” said Michael McNamara, Director, Clermont County Community and Economic Development. “More and more businesses choose to grow here largely because of the quality of life and amenities our county offers.”

Safety Champion: Alex Wakefield

BATAVIA, OH — Alex Wakefield can find herself in potentially hazardous situations as she goes about her work. Wakefield is a building inspection supervisor in Permit Central.

“A lot of people think we just do new homes, but there is a lot more to it,” said Wakefield, who started her job in February 2020.

In addition to inspecting new homes, her team gets called by dispatchers and firefighters to life safety situations such as trees on homes, fire damage sites and flood destruction areas. They determine if structures are habitable, see if permits are needed, and look into code complaints.

They even worked with a fire department to test every single fire extinguisher and smoke detector at Mercy Health – Clermont Hospital. They made sure they were working correctly and easily assessable.

Safety remains a top priority at all times. Inspectors wear safety shoes, hard hats and goggles. Most are OSHA certified.

“As soon as I step on a job site, the first thing I think of is safety,” Wakefield said.

She focuses on her own safety as well as the other workers on a site and the future home or business occupants.

“If it’s a business, we make sure the exit lights are working, junction boxes are OK… We want to make sure things are safe before somebody moves in,” Wakefield said.

Clermont County Safety Coordinator Gary Caudill appreciates the attention that Wakefield puts on safety. He praised her dedication to accurate and thorough documentation.

“I’m in awe of all that she and the team in Permit Central do,” Caudill said. “They handle a lot more than new construction: floods, car fires, burnt homes, rehab center complaints. Throughout it all, Alex is safety oriented.”

Wakefield humbly appreciates being acknowledged as a Safety Champion.

“All of us at Permit Central think we are just doing our job,” she said. “It’s awesome to be recognized. I’m glad safety is being stressed, and it’s great to help build knowledge and respect of what we do.”

Water Resources plans many improvements

BATAVIA, OH — Clermont County Water Resources’ 5-year Capital Improvement Plan calls for 63 waterworks projects totaling $42 million and 55 wastewater projects estimated at $72.7 million. Water Resources Director Lyle Bloom reviewed the plan with the Board of County Commissioners on May 9.  Commissioners approved the plan on May 11.

Waterworks projects include 32 water main replacements ($25 million), eight water storage tank rehabilitation/removals ($4.3 million), eight water treatment plan renovations/upgrades ($4.7 million) and eight new water main extensions ($5.4 million). Funding for the waterworks portion of the plan includes $3.4 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and $813,000 in Ohio Public Works Commission (OPWC) money.

Wastewater projects include 14 sewer replacements ($25.1 million), 12 lift station upgrades/eliminations ($9.8 million), nine wastewater treatment plant projects ($19.1 million) and 13 new sanitary sewer main extensions ($16.4 million). Funding for the wastewater part of the plan includes $4.8 million in ARPA funds, $3 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture funds and $864,000 in OPWC money.

CASC helps more find road to recovery from substance abuse disorders

“I was able to not only open up, but find ways to detach from my cravings and trauma when it comes to my mind – and realize I have more to live for than what I had told myself.”

This quote comes from one of the 208 adults admitted to the Clermont County Community Alternative Sentencing Center (CASC) in 2021.

CASC is a comprehensive outpatient program that provides behavioral health services to individuals with substance abuse disorders. Individuals referred by Clermont County Municipal Court choose to be in the intensive outpatient program, which runs five days per week.

CASC is funded by the Board of County Commissioners with services provided through Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services and grants obtained by the Clermont County Mental Health & Recovery Board.

Alicia Fine, vice president of Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services in Clermont County, and team members gave an annual update to Commissioners on April 25.

During the seven years GCBH has operated CASC, demographics have been consistent: average age in late 30s, with most having high school or higher education. Alcohol remains the primary use disorder, followed by opioids. Seventy-one percent of women and 40 percent of men had co-occurring mental health diagnoses.

Overall, in 2021, 75 percent of individuals were not incarcerated within a year of leaving the program. More than 85 percent remained in treatment at Clermont Recovery Center for at least 90 days.

CASC’s main curriculum is Thinking for a Change, an evidence-based cognitive-behavioral program. CASC also provides supplemental educational groups, with topics ranging from anger management to communication skills to healthy relationships to what to do when you’re bored.

Also included are individual counseling (at least once per week), case management (helps manage medications, connect to primary care doctors, dentists and eye care, coordinate services such as Medicaid, Medication-assisted treatment, psychiatric services and nursing) and
an embedded employment services specialist. There are peer recovery supports and community support (AA, Smart Recovery).

Commissioners complimented the CASC team on the great work it’s doing helping people on the road to recovery.

Test of outdoor warning system today (May 5)

BATAVIA, OH — The outdoor warning siren system will be tested at noon today. A malfunction was experienced during the normal monthly test yesterday. This was caused by a lightning strike and has been fixed. Our vendor identified and addressed the issue.

Dispatcher coaches teenagers to provide lifesaving CPR to stepfather

At about 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 1, Clermont County 911 Communication Center Dispatcher Aaron Daulton fielded a call. He quickly learned that 17-year-old Garrett was calling from Lodge Pole Drive in Miami Township.

“Tell me exactly what happened,” Daulton calmly asked.

Garrett responded: “I think my stepfather is having a heart attack or something. He is breathing heavily… He looks very, very red.”

Dispatcher Daulton quickly assessed the situation. He learned that Garrett’s sister (15-year-old Anderson) was with him and that the apparent cardiac arrest victim, Greg Eubanks, was unconscious in a chair. He dispatched a life squad to the scene and asked if there was a defibrillator near. There wasn’t. He instructed the callers to drag Eubanks to the floor, which they were unable to do, so they tried to recline the chair.

Garrett handed the phone to his sister – and Dispatcher Daulton promptly gave instructions: “All right, listen carefully. I’m going to tell you how to do chest compressions. You’re going to place the heel of your hand on the breast bone in the center of the chest, right between the nipples. Put your other hand on top of that hand. We’re going to pump the chest hard and fast at least five per second and two inches deep. Let the chest come up all of the way between pumps. We are going to do this 600 times until help can take over. Count out loud so I can count with you.”

The counting began. “You’re doing a great job,” Daulton said during a brief pause. “Just keep it up.” He let them know the life squad was almost there and asked if doors were unlocked.

In less than eight minutes, Miami Township Fire, EMS and Police units had arrived.

“They’re here,” Anderson told the dispatcher.

“Alright, I’ll let you go talk to them,” Daulton replied, and disconnected the call.

When Eubanks got to the hospital, he had a good pulse, blood pressure and brain function.

A few weeks later, Dispatcher Daulton attended a special award presentation at the Miami Township Board of Trustees meeting. Eubanks, Anderson, Garrett, Daulton and the township fire, EMS and police officers who assisted listened as the assistant fire chief walked everyone through the steps taken on March 1. Within a week, the Board of County Commissioners also honored Daulton.

“These types of calls occur a few times a month,” said John Kiskaden, director of the Clermont County Department of Public Safety Services. “As a dispatcher you typically never know what the outcome of the call is because when Fire/EMS arrive you disconnect and move on to the next call.”

Daulton prefers to do his work without too much special attention, but he was glad to see  Eubanks alive and doing well.

“This shows what can happen when everyone stays calm and works as a team,” Daulton said. “Everyone pulled together, from the teenagers to the emergency personnel, and put a happy ending on this story.”

Bethel Historical Society and Museum celebrates 50th anniversary on an upswing

BETHEL, OH — Judi Adams, president, and Roma Ritchie, trustee and secretary, of the Bethel Historical Society and Museum proudly welcomed a visitor to the Grant Memorial building at 100 S. Main St. on a clear spring morning.

Bethel Historical Society celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. The society purchased the building from the Village of Bethel on Feb. 5, 2019. Since then, the museum has expanded displays from one room into most of the two-story brick building in the heart of downtown.

“About six years ago, the Historical Society had two meetings with no quorum,” Adams said. “We were concerned if people would like this to continue. We had to decide if we were going to give back everything or make this bigger and better. We decided bigger and better.”

The society raised $44,000, enough to cover operating expenses for more than two years. They bought the building from the village, which was considering selling it, for $1 in 2019. A $40,000 capital grant received from the State with help from Clermont County Community + Economic Development last year helped with building repairs.

As Adams points to an elevator that was built in 1998 in conjunction with Bethel’s bicentennial, she notes that most of the items in the museum have been donated in the past six years. People give items when grandparents die, or decide to contribute items after touring the museum.

Museum members have been digging through old paper records and painstakingly inventorying everything in the museum. Ritchie then inputs the information to a computer.

“We started last year with the first floor and we’re still not done,” she said.

Trustee Susan Barger does many of the displays.

The Grand Memorial building was dedicated in 1930. A post card shows the front lawn crowded with spiffy hat-wearing men and women in their Sunday best at the dedication. Stylish-looking cars from the era are parked on the street.

The building formerly served as the village administration building, with various offices and the mayor’s court. It once held a small jail and a library. Adams and Ritchie went to sixth grade in the building due to school overcrowding in the 1960s.

They point out photos of a home that sat on the site before Grant Memorial was built. At one time, the building’s basement still contained a well from the house.

Nearby, a display informs viewers about two railway lines that operated in Bethel until 1933. Another tells about Dr. William E. Thompson, who served the area as the nation’s oldest practitioner at age 102. Yet another educates about Edmund Burke, a Bethel native who made his fortune investing in New York real estate. Burke, who lived 1877-1966, gave a $500,000 endowment to Bethel for Burke Park and cemetery upkeep and a scholarship fund.

President Ulysses S. Grant’s father Jesse – the first mayor of Bethel – also is represented. A hollowed log that served as plumbing in his tannery and a grinding wheel are among artifacts.

Bethel was founded in 1815 by Obed Denham – and the museum holds the preacher’s bible as well as his wife’s wedding gown.

Other items of interest include a horse drawn sleigh and buggy, a wagon and trunks from the Civil War, a hand-made doll belonging to a small slave child, a sleigh blanket more than 200 years old, a wagon wheel maker so heavy it took six guys to move, and a desk with stationery and a bunk from a CCC camp formerly in the village.

A display highlights a baby shoe factory, run by a woman, which prospered in the town around 1907. One of the first washing machines, a wooden one made in 1881, sits nearby.

“We have just so many gems,” Adams said. “We are constantly learning. It’s fascinating.”

The second floor includes a military room with a variety of Civil War items such as a wooden leg, 126-pound mortar, swords, guns, ammo box and utensils. Displays salute veterans from both World Wars, as well as the Korean and Vietnam wars.  Another room contains a wealth of Bethel-Tate Schools items as well as every Bethel Journal dating to 1906.

And this is just a partial list of what there is to see. You’ll probably want to come back to absorb all the museum has to offer.

The museum is open 1-4 p.m. the first and third Saturdays of the month. Admission is free. One-year memberships are $10, three-year for $25 and lifetime for $75.