County Government Month: Counties Thrive!

BATAVIA, OH – Every day, about 1,200 Clermont County employees provide a variety of services to those who live, work and play in the county. County Government Month offers the opportunity to highlight some of the county’s workers, as well as share statistics that provide a look at the difference they make.

The National Association of Counties (NACo) 2022 theme involves demonstrating how Counties Thrive, especially in technology, health, readiness, infrastructure, vulnerable communities, and economic opportunities.

First, a look at some of our employees:

Erin Meadows, assistant clerk to the Board of County Commissioners, has worked for Clermont County for 14 years. She has a Bachelor Degree in Mental Health and Human Services and has been a Social Service Worker for Children’s Protective Services and Assignment Clerk for Common Pleas Court.

“I love working in the County that I live in and getting to know other people in my community,” said Meadows, who has been married for 22 years and is a mom to two children. “Working for the Commissioner’s Office has given me great insight on how the county operates and how much work goes into keeping things running smoothly. I have always had great co-workers in every department I have worked in. I can’t imagine working anywhere else!”

Sanna Gast, Executive Assistant 2 in Clermont County Department of Job and Family Services, says she loves helping people. The new grandmother has been with Clermont County for 31 years after working in the corporate world for three years.

“I like the benefits the county offers, the people from all of the other departments have been very welcoming and helpful,” said Chief Dog Warden Teresa Fox, a Glen Este High School graduate and resident of Clermont County for 24 years. “The opportunities for promotions as well as opportunities to learn have been great.”

Heather Goslin, Emergency Resource Technician/911 dispatcher in the Department of Public Safety Services/911 Communications Center, has worked for Clermont County for 10 years.

“It’s super close to home and I love helping people,” said Goslin, who lives in Clermont County with her husband, Nick, and son, Hunter. “Whether it be Joe Citizen or police/fire personnel. From the smallest tasks to the most nail biting. I truly enjoy what I do and being one of the extraordinary few who are able to do this job. It’s challenging mentally and emotionally. Plus, I get to work with some great people at the Comm Center and police/fire personnel.”

Clermont County Park District Executive Director Josh Torbeck joined the county less than a year ago. He held jobs at GreatParks of Hamilton County, Delhi Township Parks Department and MetroParks of Butler County after earning a Bachelor’s in Recreation from Miami (OH) University.

“I came here to have the opportunity to effect change on a large scale, but with the hometown feel the Clermont County community provides,” Torbeck said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without the love and support of my wife Allie, and my three daughters Logan, Piper and Quinn.”

Kat Zelak, Education Coordinator, Clermont Soil & Water Conservation District, has been with Clermont County for more than 1.5 years. She holds several degrees: B.S. Animal Science, B.S. Natural Resources, B.S. Biology from Cornell University; M.S. Agriculture & Extension Education w/ concentrations in Community Development and Environmental Education from Ohio State University. She had served as an Education Specialist with Los Angeles Zoo and Outreach Coordinator with Seneca Park Zoo.

“There are so many exciting new opportunities for collaboration and engagement with organizations from the community,” Zelak said. “So many people in Clermont are passionate about their communities and interested in improving the space around them.”

Did you know that in 2021 … ?

  • Water Resources Department produced 13.6 million gallons of drinking water a day
  • County Engineer maintained 385 miles of county roads and 420 county bridges
  • Permit Central awarded permits for 139 new commercial buildings valued at $89 million, 27 additions worth $42.8 million, and 815 alterations valued at $24.8 million
  • The Office of Environmental Quality / Adams-Clermont Solid Waste District oversaw the removal of 36 tons of litter and over 300 tires from more than 547 miles of roads in the county
  • Children’s Protective Services handled 1,121 reports of child abuse or neglect, and took custody of 76 children who could not remain safely at home
  • Children’s Protective Services found forever families for 24 children
  • Child Support collected $34.3 million in child support
  • Public Assistance Services served more than 14,847 individuals with food assistance, and helped fore than 42,193 with Medicaid
  • Public Health inspected 1,739 restaurants or food outlets; issued 4,246 birth certificates, provided 42,500 COVID vaccines, 404 childhood vaccines and 148 flu vaccines, and hosted more than 8,206 WIC office visits
  • Dispatch center handled 58,859 911 calls and 86,922 admin calls
  • 4,413 criminal cases, 4,252 civil cases and 15,204 traffic cases were filed in Municipal Court
  • Victims’ Assistance Office in the Prosecutor’s Office helped 1,983 victims of crime
  • Public Defender’s Office opened 5,853 cases

Family Recovery Court sets young family on right path

BATAVIA, OH — Jeffrey Gobeille, 28, made a life-changing decision when he chose to enter Clermont County Family Recovery Court in October 2020. On March 17, he fulfilled the requirements to graduate and entered into the 60-to-90-day exit phase of the program.

“It was the best thing for me to get my kids back,” said Gobeille, father of sons River, 2½, and Asher, 1. “Family Recovery Court offered what I needed, the guidance and support.”

Judge James Shriver asked Gobeille if he wanted to start Family Recovery Court during a review hearing on a Child Protective Services case.

“Judge Shriver had presented this to me a couple of months before, so I had time to think about it and said, yes, this was something I had to do,” Gobeille said.

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.

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.

Gobeille recalls Angie Livesay, then the court’s administrator, explaining the program to him.

“It was like a blur,” he said. “It seemed overwhelming.”

Gobeille was required to check in with the court daily, do drug screenings two to three times per week, write a book report and provide written updates about sober support meetings. He participated in an outpatient treatment program at BrightView in Batavia, graduating at the start of 2022.

“In the beginning, Jeffrey was very quiet and reserved, but with each review hearing he opened up just a little bit each time,” Judge Shriver said. “Now he talks all the time and shares the ups and downs of parenting and what he has learned from his sober support meetings.”

Judge Shriver added: “Jeffrey is engaging and offers feedback and support to others in the program. Jeffrey enjoys the fellowship of this sober support meetings and lives his life by the principals in the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book. Jeffrey’s commitment to recovery was strengthened even more when he reunified with his two children, River and Asher.”

Gobeille said his recovery program strengthened when he began attending recovery meetings in person, instead of online, in May of last year. He got a sponsor, formed sober friendships, and worked on his spirituality.

“I got the willingness to do what they suggested,” Goveille said. He’s been sober since May 29, 2021.

Gobeille gained custody of River and Asher in November 2021. He and the children live with his parents, who provide day care while he works as a medical service technician. He said parenting education from CPS and Child Focus has helped improve his parenting skills.

“I think River and Asher are better than ever and I’m doing really well,” he said. “I don’t want to sit here and be complacent. I want to continue to be better.”

Judge Shriver said: “Jeffrey has grown as a person, as a father, and as a person in recovery.”

County breaks ground on new Juvenile Court facility

BATAVIA, OH — Clermont County officials today participated in a ceremonial groundbreaking for the 29,000-square-foot expansion and renovation of Juvenile Court. The facility off Bauer Road in Batavia will allow the Court to combine staff and services from five buildings into one location

The project consists of five courtrooms, administrative offices, holding cells and high density filing rooms for the Courts as well as individual offices for Juvenile Probation along with conference rooms and group activity rooms.

Mark Spaulding Construction Company of Florence, Ky., bid for $7.5 million for the base project, with a grand total of $8 million that includes proposed alternates.

Commissioners applaud federal Omnibus Appropriations Bill that Includes nearly $4 Million for Clermont County

BATAVIA – Two Clermont County projects have been included in an appropriations bill that will bring $3.9 million to Clermont County as a result of a team effort to assist Clermont County. 

On Tuesday, the President signed into law the $1.5 trillion omnibus appropriations bill, H.R. 2471, for Fiscal Year 2022. The legislation, which passed Congress with bipartisan support, includes two Congressionally Directed Spending requests from U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Cincinnati).

The legislation appropriates about $2.9 million for road improvements to U.S. Route 52 in New Richmond.

In addition, $1 million is appropriated for Child Focus, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Clermont County that provides early childhood and behavioral health programs to children and families throughout central and southern Ohio. Child Focus will use these funds to make improvements to their integrated care facility in Mount Orab in order to provide substance abuse and behavioral health assistance to children and adults in Clermont County, Brown County, and surrounding communities. 

“These wins for Clermont County are a result of a team effort with our local communities, nonprofits, Clermont County, the Port Authority, and Congressman Wenstrup’s office,” said Clermont County Commission President Bonnie Batchler.  “The Commissioners are proud of how our communities work together to make Clermont County a better place to live, work and grow.”

The Clermont County Port Authority is appreciative of Congressman Wenstrup’s efforts to bring these dollars back to the district to improve mobility in our region and to provide essential supports that will foster growth and self-sufficiency for adults and children.

Sewer system moves closer to reality for Newtonsville area

BATAVIA, OH — Action by the Board of County Commissioners on March 9 brought the former village of Newtonsville a step closer to its first sewer system – a process dating back to the 1990s. Work on the project that’s coming to fruition started in 2012.

Commissioners awarded bids totaling $12.3 million to Building Crafts Inc. of Wilder, Ky., and Tribute Contracting & Consultants of South Point, Ohio for the Newtonsville-area collection system and wastewater treatment plant projects in Wayne Township. Building Crafts entered into a $6.3-million contract for the wastewater treatment plant and Tribute, $6 million for the collection system.

Currently, properties have septic systems. In October 2012, residents were notified by Clermont Public Health that a significant number of homes had failing septic systems, and sewage created a health risk. At that time, Public Health recommended a public sewer system to serve the residents in the project area.

Since then, the Clermont County Water Resources Department has completed extensive engineering fieldwork and project design. A number of public information meetings have been held.

A majority of the property owners indicated their support for a full gravity collection system, and not a hybrid collection system that had been presented to them. The hybrid collection system included a combination of conventional gravity sewers and STEP (Septic Tank Effluent Pump) to convey wastewater to the proposed wastewater treatment facility.

The treatment plant will handle 57,000 gallons per day, and includes an influent pump station and a backup power generator. The collection system includes over 17,700 feet of 8-inch gravity sewer main, manholes, and a submersible pump station.

Lyle Bloom, director, of the Clermont County Water Resources Department, said funds for the work will come from assessment of benefitted properties, the County Wastewater System Capital Improvement Fund, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant and loan funds, Ohio Public Works Commission (OPWC) grant funds and American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant funds.

The assessment for property owners totals $4.2 million, which will be funded through a USDA loan. Clermont County will contribute $1.5 million in ARPA funds to reduce the assessments and overall loan amount. That will be a 36-percent reduction in the overall assessment.

“It’s been a long project, but staying with it and paying attention to the stakeholders, you guys did a great job,” Commissioner David Painter told Bloom. “I think this one is really going to make a difference in that part of Clermont County, to actually have sewers.”

Work on the project is expected to start in March, 2022, with completion projected for July, 2023.

 

County plans record road resurfacing and repairs in 2022

BATAVIA, OH — The Clermont County Engineer’s Office will nearly triple resurfacing and repair of roads in 2022 thanks to a commitment of $4 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds by the Board of County Commissioners. This will be the largest road improvement program in county history, with resurfacing of 45 county roads and repairing of 18.
Commissioners on Feb. 23 approved the Engineer’s request to advertise for bids for the 2022 Road Resurfacing Program. Bids will be received until 2 p.m. March 17.
Doug Royer of the Engineer’s Office told commissioners that estimated construction cost is $7.6 million. If you take out costs covered by several townships and villages, the Engineer’s share is $6.2 million for county roads – well above that of previous years, thanks to the ARPA funds.
A full list of proposed 2022 road resurfacing and repairing projects will be available on the Engineer’s Office website next week: https://clermontengineer.org/construction/road-resurfacing/

Safety Champion: Bill Mellman of the Office of Environmental Quality

Bill Mellman, program manager for the Office of Environmental Quality, spends a lot of time in a considerably safe workspace. But fieldwork brings potential safety hazards for Mellman and others in OEQ.

“This is nearly always around water including, at times, surface water bodies above flood stage,” he said. “In such an environment, it’s obvious that attention to safety is critical. Additionally, some of us frequently — and all of us, occasionally — work with harsh chemicals and biohazards so that’s a level of required awareness above your standard desk job.”

Mellman was introduced to the importance of safety as a youngster in Chicago. He joined Clermont County in 2008 after jobs at the University of Cincinnati and Andersen Consulting.

“My father built a sailboat so I was always near water,” he said. “Wearing a personal flotation device, or PFD, was second nature to me. When I was in college I used to lead outdoor trips in climbing, caving, canoeing and backpacking, so very early on emergency management awareness and training was required of me. As I’ve gotten older, less obvious sources of injury have made themselves known. As selfish as it sounds, my own comfort is often a motivation.”

Fortunately, Mellman’s teammates are equally aware and concerned about safely so minimal promotion is necessary, but he often helps ensure everyone has the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the job. Also, he said that review, reminders and checklists are among your best tools before your risk has increased.

“For us the greatest risks are tripping/falling injuries when on steep ground when in the field,” he said “It’s infrequent but at times drowning is also a risk, and for those of us working in the lab, exposure to chemicals and biohazards is a risk. The simplest and most obvious first step is having the appropriate PPE. Then reviewing and communicating what you’re going to do before you do it.”

Clermont County Safety Coordinator Gary Caudill said: “Bill and his team are setting the stage in preventing any workplace injuries.”

County OK’s expansion and renovation of Juvenile Court

BATAVIA, OH – The Board of County Commissioners have awarded the bid for a 29,000-square-foot expansion and renovation of Juvenile Court to Mark Spaulding Construction Company of Florence, Ky. The bid was for $7.5 million for the base project, with a grand total of $8 million that includes proposed alternates.

The project will consist of five courtrooms, administrative offices, holding cells and high density filing rooms for the Courts as well as individual offices for Juvenile Probation along with conference rooms and group activity rooms.

“The expansion of the Juvenile Court facility allows the Court to combine staff and services from five buildings into one location,” Judge James Shriver said. “I extend my deepest thanks to the Board of County Commissioners for embracing the difficult operational challenges encountered by the Court.  The expansion of the facility will allow greater flexibility to provide for the care, protection and development of children and address the multiple issues presented to this Court on a daily basis.”

Bonnie Batchler, President, Board of County Commissioners, said: “We’re grateful for the opportunity to support those who work so hard each day to work with the youth of our community. This expansion and renovation will help them more efficiently go about their important work.”

David Painter, Vice President, Board of County Commissioners, said: “Clermont County is committed to providing the best facility for those who devote so much time and energy to helping families and children. We’re excited for the courts to move into an upgraded work environment.”

Commissioner Claire Corcoran said: “This expansion and renovation will help bolster Clermont County’s work with the juvenile population. We’re appreciative of the great work of the courts and probation and want to provide them with a top-quality facility.”

Mark Spaulding Construction has been given the notice to proceed as of Feb. 27, 2022, on the project designed to bring Juvenile Court, Juvenile Probation and Probate Court under one roof.  County capital funds will pay for the project off Bauer Road, on Clermont Center Drive, in Batavia.

MSA Architects is serving as architect.

Animal Shelter receives $20,000 grant from Purina

BATAVIA, February 7, 2022 – Clermont County Animal Shelter today received a $20,000 donation from Nestlé Purina to support a new area at the shelter that will create socialization benefits for dogs in their care. The shelter recently completed major upgrades to enhance infrastructure and maintenance at the facility, and additional funds from Purina will be used to add shade and a fence for an outdoor play area so dogs can enjoy enrichment and exercise. Purina also recently donated more than 2,000 pounds of Purina ONE dog food to the shelter.

“At Purina we’re committed to enriching the lives of pets and the people who love them, and that starts in the communities where we operate,” said Casey Hansen, factory manager at the Purina manufacturing facility under construction in Williamsburg Township. “Purina cares about finding a good home for all pets, and we’re excited to support the County in their efforts to enhance quality of life for dogs in the shelter and make more adoptions possible.”

The county will also add a sidewalk around the perimeter of the new play area, which will lead to a future green space to the south of the facility. Construction is expected to begin in late spring/early summer. In addition to creating this space for outdoor enrichment, the County is also contracting with an animal behaviorist to work with dogs that need additional support before finding their way to their forever homes.

“The Board of County Commissioners thanks Purina for being such a great corporate citizen by supporting a cause very near-and-dear to our hearts,” said Bonnie Batchler, President, Board of County Commissioners. “We’re very happy that a first-class organization so new to Clermont County is helping expand our growing efforts to provide top-quality care for the animals in our shelter. We are extremely appreciative to Purina for this generous donation. Clermont County’s animals and residents both will benefit from this generosity.”

This donation is being granted through the Nestlé Purina Trust Fund, established by Purina founder William H. Danforth to provide critical support to important community causes. The company is investing more than $1 million in its communities this year through several capital and capacity-building grants to support local non-profit organizations. Over the past five years, Purina has contributed more than $150 million towards organizations that bring, and keep, people and pets together, as well as those that help our communities and environment thrive.

To learn more about causes Purina supports, visit www.purina.com/about-purina/supporting-communities.

 

Closings due to weather

Closings and other updates for Feb. 4, 2022:

Auditor (working remotely — leave detailed message at 513-732-7150, visit www.clermontauditor.org)
Board of County Commissioners (HR, CED, OMB, Comm. Office) (Conducting business remotely. Please call 513-732-7300. If the road and weather conditions are favorable in the morning, we anticipate some staff will return to the office)
Board of Elections
Common Pleas Court
Family Court Building (Juvenile, Domestic Relations and Probate courts, and Clerk)
Juvenile Probation
Municipal Court and Clerk
Prosecutor’s Office — Civil Division will be working remotely
Public Health
Recorder’s Office — call (513) 732-7236 or visit recorder.clermontcountyohio.gov
Records Center — call 513-735-8661 for remote service
Treasurer’s Office — Visit clermonttreasurer.org for information on “How to Pay”.  Will reopen Monday morning at 8 a.m.

In addition:

Job and Family Services will be open. Most of  business can already be conducted online, phone, mail, email, or the dropbox located outside  entrance. To find out if you need a in-person meeting, please contact the applicable division:
Public Assistance (Medicaid, SNAP, Child Care) – 513-732-7111
Children’s Protective Services – 513-732-7173
Ohio Means Jobs Clermont – 513-943-3000
Child Support Enforcement – 513-732-7248
Family & Children First  – 513-732-7860

Water Resources – 4400 Haskell open on Friday, February 4th – 8 am to 4:30 pm

CTC — New Richmond Route 2X and Amelia Express Route 4X service for Feb. 4, 2022, have been suspended. Any questions, call 513-732-7433, ext. 2.