Commissioners end State of Emergency; community response praised

BATAVIA, OH – The Board of County Commissioners today voted to end a State of Emergency that had been declared on March 18, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The action was taken in concert with State of Ohio, which ended its State of Emergency on June 18.

The emergency declaration, along with a previous resolution delegating disaster functions in event of an absence of a quorum of the board, spelled out succession of leadership and the authority of the county administrator in an emergency. It also exempted from the competitive bidding process purchases related to the emergency that were greater than $50,000 but less than $100,000, so long as no fewer than three informal estimates were obtained. The declaration also allowed the county to obtain state and federal funds.

Pam Haverkos, director of the Clermont County Emergency Management Agency, thanked the commissioners for their support throughout the pandemic.

“Clermont County has definitely proved that we are a really resilient community – and that’s a result of the relationships we have built, the collaborations amongst our public safety partners, public health department, healthcare providers, local government agencies, social service agencies, schools, non-profit organizations, faith-based organizations and residents,” Haverkos said.

“Response and recovery to a pandemic truly requires the ingenuity of the whole community,” she added.

Haverkos thanked Health Commissioner Julianne Nesbit and Clermont County Public Health for their tireless work, often done behind the scenes.

“They are the backbone of our response and recovery operations,” Haverkos said.

Clermont County held its first preparedness meeting on Jan. 31, 2020. The county officially opened its emergency operations center on March 16, 2020. Initially, the emergency operations team met daily and it gradually transitioned into weekly COVID Defense Team meetings.

In January, an emergency hotline number (732-8500) was activated to facilitate access to vaccines. The number has received almost 17,000 calls. It remains in service.

Public Health has administered 36,632 vaccinations. Combined with vaccinations from other providers, about 45 percent of the county’s residents have received at least one dose and 41 have completed their vaccines.

Vaccinations continue for those ages 12 and older.

“We can’t thank your staff enough and the whole health department for coordination from the very beginning all of the way through – daily updates and keeping everyone posted, most of all taking care of the citizens of Clermont County,” said Claire Corcoran, President, Board of County Commissioners. “What a tremendous, tremendous job all of you did.”

“Every communication meeting there for a while seemed like there was always new information, a new change of direction,” Commissioner David Painter said. “It really was a changing environment where you had to adapt. We realize how stressful that was.”

Commissioner Bonnie Batchler added: “You and your staff are always there in every emergency in Clermont County. From my heart, I thank you for what you have always done.”

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Water Resources plans many waterworks, wastewater improvements through 2025

BATAVIA, OH — The Clermont County Water Resources Department’s 5-year Capital Improvement Plan (2021-2025) calls for many improvements to water mains, water tanks and sewers.

The waterworks plan calls for 60 waterworks capital improvements valued at $32.9 million, including 26 water main replacement projects ($16.8 million), eight elevated water tank inspection, rehab and painting projects ($4.3 million), 10 water treatment plant and well field improvement projects ($3 million), seven new infrastructure/expansion projects ($3.7 million) and three petition/assessment projects ($1.2 million).

The wastewater plan calls for 56 wastewater capital improvements estimated at $63.9 million, including 15 sewer replacement/rehabilitation projects ($22.6 million), nine lift station replacement, upgrade or elimination projects ($10.4 million), 10 wastewater treatment plant improvement or elimination projects ($13.0 million), four new infrastructure/expansion projects ($3.3 million), and eight petition/assessment projects ($12.9 million).

Waterworks capital improvement funding includes:

Available funding (2021-2025) $45,686,096

  • includes $3,119,020 million in grants
  • includes $90,500 contribution from the wastewater funds
  • 5-year plan 100 percent funded

Wastewater capital improvement funding includes:

Available funding (2021-2025) $62,369,811

  • includes $3.9 million in grants
  • includes a $90,500 contribution to the water meter replacement project
  • 5-year plan is 98% funded; shortage of $1.5 million

Water main replacement projects include:

  • Aicholtz Road (Union Township) – construction in 2022.
  • Bach Buxton (Union Township) – construction in 2021.
  • Branch Hill-Miamiville Road (Miami Township) – design 2021; construction 2023
  • Davis, Michael & Aldor ( Miami Township) – design in 2023; construction in 2024-2025
  • Fay (Goshen Township) – design 2022; construction 2023
  • Hopper Hill Road (Pierce & Union Township) – design 2021; construction 2022
  • McPicken Road & Menno Drive (Miami Township) – construction 2021
  • Old SR 74 (Union Township) – construction in 2023
  • Price Road (Miami Township) – design 2021; construction 2022-2023
  • SR 125 (Pierce & Batavia Townships) – construction 2021
  • SR 132; SR 48 to SR 28 (Goshen Township) – construction 2021-2022

Elevated water tank inspection, rehab and painting projects include:

  • Goshen tank (Goshen Township) – 2022
  • Afton tank (Williamsburg Township) – 2022
  • Summit tank (Batavia Township) – 2022
  • Buckwheat tank (Miami Township) – 2023
  • Day Heights tank (Miami Township) – 2023
  • Miamiville tank (Miami Township) – 2023
  • Lewis Road tank removal (Pierce Township) – 2024

Sewer replacement/rehabilitation projects include:

  • Collection system rehabilitation projects: Locust Lake (Pierce Township) and Bethel areas (Village of Bethel), along SR 132 in Owensville – construction 2021-2022
  • Backbone Creek sewer replacement (Batavia Township) – construction 2022
  • Glendale and Glen Willow (Union Township) – design 2022; construction 2023
  • Hall Run Sewer & EQ (Union Township) – design 2022 construction 2023
  • Nine Mile collection improvements (Pierce Township) – construction 2022-2023
  • O’Bannon (Goshen Township) – design and construction 2021-2022
  • SR 132 (Batavia Township) – design 2024; construction 2025

Lift station replacement, upgrade or elimination projects include:

  • Bethel lift station EQ facility (Tate Township) – design 2021; construction 2022-2023
  • Greenbriar lift station improvements (Batavia Township) – construction 2021-2022
  • Orchard Valley lift station (Miami Township) – design 2023; construction 2024
  • Shepherd Road lift station (Union Township) – design 2022; construction 2023
  • White Oak lift station relocation & upgrade (Pierce Township) – design 2021; construction 2022

Wastewater Treatment Plant Improvements or Elimination projects include:

  • Arrowhead wastewater treatment plant elimination (Miami Township) – construction 2022-2023
  • Lower East Fork WWTP Expansion (Union Township) – design 2024; construction 2025
  • Middle East Fork wastewater treatment plant improvements (Village of Batavia) – preliminary engineering 2020-2021; design 2022; construction 2023-2024
  • Nine Mile wastewater treatment plant improvements (Pierce Township) – construction 2021-2022

 

Second interceptor well nears completion at Beckjord

A second interceptor well is being constructed at the Beckjord Power Station site in New Richmond. The well will serve as a backup in case the original interceptor well fails. Operation of the well, which helps protect county-owned drinking water wells from contamination, is expected soon.

In the early to mid-1990’s, Cincinnati Gas & Electric (aka Duke Energy) performed an investigation of the groundwater near the Beckjord Power Station.  As a result of the investigation, an elevated-sulfate groundwater plume was identified.  This plume originates from the power station’s ash ponds and extends towards the County-owned drinking water well fields that provide the raw water for the County’s P.U.B. Water Treatment Plant.  In order to help protect the County’s drinking water wells, Duke Energy installed an interceptor well to capture the sulfate plume.  The interceptor well initiated pumping on Feb. 4, 1994 and continuously removes groundwater with elevated sulfate concentrations and discharges it to the Ohio River under an NPDES Permit issued by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA).

Since the installation of the interceptor well in 1994, quarterly groundwater monitoring reports have been submitted to OEPA, with copies sent to Clermont County.  These reports present and summarize analytical results from about 30 monitoring wells and piezometers located across the Beckjord property.  Within the reports, sulfate concentrations are used to monitor the movement and location of the contaminated groundwater plume.

In 2014, Duke Energy shut down the Beckjord Power Station.  Then, in early 2018, ownership of the Beckjord Power Station property was transferred from Duke Energy to New Richmond Development Corporation (NRDC).  Since then, NRDC has been working to decommission the former power station in accordance with Ohio EPA requirements.  NRDC continues to operate and maintain the interceptor well and submit quarterly groundwater monitoring reports to Ohio EPA and Clermont County.

Ohio EPA is the regulatory authority for all decommissioning work and environmental protection efforts at the former Beckjord Power Station site.  In an effort to help protect the citizens of Clermont County and our water resources, Clermont County regularly reviews groundwater monitoring reports and other information prepared by NRDC.  Following these reviews, Clermont County often provides comments, concerns and recommendations to Ohio EPA.  In 2019, Clermont County provided recommendations to Ohio EPA which included the installation of a second interceptor well to provide redundancy in the event the original interceptor well experiences failure.  Ultimately, Ohio EPA supported this recommendation, and on October 20, 2020, approved the Permit to Install for the second interceptor well.  NRDC has initiated construction of the second interceptor well and has indicated it will be operational in the very near future.

Ohio EPA grant helps with cleanup efforts

BATAVIA, OH — Efforts to keep Clermont County beautiful got a boost recently when the Office of Environmental Quality received a grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

The $37,000 Recycle Ohio Community and Litter grant will support the Ohio River Sweep, Spring Litter Clean-up and Tire Collection Days. The grant includes a 20 percent match from the county.

In the Ohio River Sweep, local volunteers join 100 locations in six states each summer to remove litter from the waterway.

In the Spring Litter Clean-up, people volunteer their time to pick up trash throughout Clermont County and the East Fork Watershed.

In Tire Collection Days, Clermont County residents can drop off up to 10 tires at a pre-determined location.  The Collection Days will be scheduled for a weekend in October, visit oeq.net to sign up for notifications.  In the meantime, residents can take their tires to tire retailers and pay a small fee to recycle them

“These funds will help us supply volunteers with tools they need to keep Clermont County beautiful,” said Hannah Lubbers, director of the Clermont County Office of Environmental Quality (OEQ) and the Adams-Clermont Solid Waste District. “They will also cover costs of items such as water bottles and other supplies for those who so graciously devote time to these important events.”

Would you like to serve on the Clermont Library Board?

BATAVIA, OH — 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 July 1, 2021, through Dec. 31, 2022, with a possibility of renewal for a full term of seven years.

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 Miami Township Library, but may be held at other Clermont County library branches. 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 Wednesday, June 16, 2021.

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.

Clermont County to commemorate 20th anniversary of 9/11

BATAVIA, OH — Clermont County will commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11 with a solemn event in front of the Courthouse at 270 E. Main St., Batavia, starting at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 11.
 
The half-hour ceremony will include brief remarks from first responders and community leaders and patriotic songs by vocalists. The Clermont Northeastern Marching Rockets will perform the National Anthem and Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts will raise the flag and lead the Pledge of Allegiance.
 
“Clermont County will come together to honor those who lost their lives and the first-responders who heroically came to the rescue on Sept. 11, 2001,” said Claire Corcoran, president of the Board of County Commissioners. “We invite the community to take some time from their busy lives to commemorate the 20th anniversary of that tragic day. May we never forget 9/11/01.”

Development Specialist joins Clermont County team

BATAVIA, OH — Welcome Development Specialist Scott Gafvert to Clermont County!

Scott just graduated with a Master’s in Urban Planning from the University of Cincinnati DAAP program. He has an undergraduate degree from Ohio University. He recently finished a planning internship with Dearborn County, Indiana, and previously worked as a co-op for the City of Cincinnati Department of City Planning. He has also worked for the nonprofit Center for Great Neighborhoods. Before returning to school, he was a realtor for Lou Park Realty in Blue Ash.

Scott will start his new role by collecting and marketing the county’s commercial real estate inventory so that Clermont County can be aggressive in answering leads from businesses looking for new locations. He will also be heading up the county’s business retention and expansion program, which is a wellness check on our county’s employers to evaluate their needs and help them grow. He will also be working with Clermont County’s communities and answering data requests.

As Development Specialist, he will be fully integrated into the Department of Community and Economic Development.

His top priorities are:

(1) Bringing the Department of Community and Economic Development to the level of service that a growing Clermont County needs and deserves by providing economic development guidance, advice, tools and incentives to our communities.

(2) Working strategically with other divisions within the Community and Economic Development Department to bolster efforts on behalf of our communities.

“The Clermont County Commissioners have demonstrated their commitment to providing a high level of service to Clermont County’s communities in hiring Scott Gafvert,” said Michael McNamara, Director, Community and Economic Development. “They understand that Clermont County is growing, and with that, the development needs and expectations of our communities will grow. With Scott’s education, training and experience, we will be able to meet those needs, and we couldn’t be happier to have Scott on the Clermont County team.”

Check out great opportunities at DJFS Job Fair, May 11-12

BATAVIA, OH – Clermont County’s Department of Job and Family Services will hold a Job Fair 10 a.m.-2 p.m., May 11-12 in the Educational Services Center, 2400 Clermont Center Drive, Batavia, OH 45103.

DJFS is looking for people in multiple departments:

* Child Protective Services

* Public Assistance

* Child Support Enforcement

* OhioMeansJobs

These jobs offer:

* Competitive Pay

* Paid Sick Time

* Paid Vacation after one year

* Health, Dental, Vision, and Life Insurance

* Tuition Assistance

* Public Employees Retirement System

* Personal Leave

* Ten Paid Holidays

Volunteers wanted for Ohio River Sweep on June 19

BATAVIA, OH – 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, Saturday, June 19.

Register at https://oeq.net/. Contact Penny at ohioriversweep@gmail.com for more information.

Local volunteers, please report to:

  • Moscow boat ramp
  • Neville boat ramp
  • New Richmond riverfront bandstand

Volunteers will be working in “small groups” per Governor DeWine’s COVID-19 orders.  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 County 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.

Safety Champion: Christel Brown of Child Support

BATAVIA, OH — Administrative Supervisor Christel Brown serves as Clermont County Child Support’s main contact with Safety Coordinator Gary Caudill.

“Christel and her staff work with me to take preventive actions so that accidents will not happen,” Caudill said.

Brown added: “It’s my job. Anything that’s safety-related, I coordinate with him.” She works for Theresa Ellison, the assistant director in charge of Child Support, and supervises the clerical unit and the customer service window.

For example, once an injury claim was reported, she met with Caudill and showed him the area where the incident occurred. She assisted Caudill and Terri Brandenburg, Human Resources coordinator, with the investigation report.

During the investigation process, Brown and her associates made corrective measures to assure the accident wouldn’t occur again. Brown and her team perform routine observations of the area to make sure no items are stored incorrectly.

As part of Clermont County’s prevention efforts, Christel coordinates Toolbox Talks, informal safety meetings specific to the job at hand. These meetings established by Caudill are normally 10-15 minutes, and cover topics such as workplace and office hazards and safe work practices.

“You might not always think of an office setting as an environment with safety hazards, but injuries can and do occur in office spaces – and actions like those taken by Christel and her team help prevent them from happening,” Caudill said.