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.

 

Volunteers wanted for Ohio River Sweep on May 14

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, May 14.

Local volunteers, please report to:

  • Moscow boat ramp
  • New Richmond riverfront bandstand

Wear clothes that can get dirty and closed-toe shoes and bring a water bottle. Dress for the weather! Organizers will provide trash bags and a limited number of gloves. Each volunteer will receive a free T-shirt.

Contact Penny at Ohioriversweep@gmail.com to register or for more information.

The ORSANCO Ohio River Sweep is the annual, volunteer cleanup that extends the entire 3,000 miles of the Ohio River. Volunteers from the six states, which border the Ohio River, remove litter at multiple locations along the Ohio River and many of its tributaries. Ohio River Sweep is coordinated locally by the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) and other local partners such as the Adams-Clermont Solid Waste District, Valley View Foundation, and the villages of Moscow and New Richmond.

The volunteers for the Ohio River Sweep have made tremendous progress cleaning the Ohio River. Yet, litter continues to be a global problem. Volunteers make a positive impact in the entire Ohio River Basin by participating in the Ohio River Sweep.

“Rivers and streams provide 65 percent of our nation’s drinking water and 88 percent of Cincinnati’s drinking water,” said Penny Greenler, Clermont Country 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.”

From Bethel to the Commissioner’s Office

BETHEL, OH — Bonnie Batchler shared her journey From Bethel to the Commissioner’s Office at today’s Bethel Business Association luncheon. The annual event took place in the Keith Boys Conference Center in the Grant Career Center.

Batchler went to school in Bethel and her parents lived there until they passed way. She moved to Pierce Township nearly four decades ago.

“I’ve always been proud of saying that I’m from Bethel,” Batchler said to a crowd that included several long-term friends such as Judi Adams of the Bethel Historical Society and Museum.

Batchler became a member of the Board of County Commissioners in 2021 and was elected President this year. She had served as a Pierce Township trustee starting in 2000. She also serves on the Local Emergency Planning Committee and County Investment Advisory Committee and is chair of the County Records Commission.

In 1981, she embarked on a 14-year stint as EMS Chief of the Pierce Township Volunteer Fire department. In between terms as trustee, she also served on the Pierce Township Board of Zoning Appeals.

She noted that she was recruited to become a volunteer firefighter, a post she called “the most rewarding thing I ever did in my life.” She became an EMT and ran for trustee to advocate for full-time paid positions to upgrade the department.

A couple of years ago, a friend persuaded her to run for county commissioner.

“I like to give back,” she said. “I like to feel I’m doing something to give back to the community.”

Batchler said she has always tried to support small businesses by purchasing goods and services from them. She encouraged business owners to take advantage of services provided by the Clermont County Port Authority and Department of Community and Economic Development. She also spoke positively about recent ribbon cuttings at Ace Hardware and Papa John’s in Bethel.

The past eight years, Batchler served as President of the Clermont County Township Association. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Clermont County Community Services and the Senior Service Housing Board and is a member of the Clermont County Law Enforcement Appreciation Selection Committee and the Ohio Public Works Commission grant committee.

She retired as Senior Credit Analyst from Senco Products after working there for 37 years. In 2009, she graduated from the Clermont 20/20 Leadership Program.

Yes, it’s been quite a journey from Bethel to the Commissioner’s Office.

“It’s always nice to come back home,” she concluded. “Bethel will always be my home.”

Mini grants available for mental health or addiction prevention projects

BATAVIA, OH — In a continuing effort to foster activities that promote positive mental health and prevent addiction, the Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board is pleased to announce that the opportunity for funding that we have labeled “mini grants” will again be available for the upcoming year.

The Board is looking for innovative projects that will positively affect mental health and/or prevent addiction for any age group. A total of up to $30,000, from the Board’s levy funds, is available for programs serving Clermont County residents. The maximum funding per project is $4,000. The grant period is July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023. Any organized group in Clermont County – with the exception of the contract agencies of the Mental Health and Recovery Board – can apply for funding. Previously funded applicants are eligible to reapply.

Applicants must have a financial structure in place to account for the awarded funds. Funds may not be used to cover ongoing operating expenses.

To apply for a mini grant, please submit a brief proposal that includes the name, address, email address, and phone number of the contact person, a description of the activity/purpose for which the grant will be used, an explanation of how the activity will promote positive mental health and/or prevent addiction, a description of what part of the activity the mini grant will fund if used with other monies, the date(s) of activity, and the amount of the funding request. Mini
grant funds cannot be used to purchase equipment such as iPads, iPods, tablets, or other electronic items. The funds can be used for materials, supplies, and/or food for activities planned.

Proposals must be submitted no later than Monday, May 9, 2022, to: Mini grant Project, c/o Cindy Knoblauch, Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board, 2337 Clermont Center Drive, Batavia, OH 45103 or by email to cknoblauch@ccmhrb.org.

In 2021, the Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board funded a total of 13 mini grants to 12 separate organizations. Seven schools in Clermont County received grants that assisted in initiating activities that helped children stay drug-free, established mentoring programs, or promoted mental health well-being. In addition, grants were awarded to other agencies providing services directed to community members, such as Inter Parish Ministry and SMART Recovery USA.
Any group receiving funding is required to submit a report to the Mental Health and Recovery Board on its efforts and resulting outcomes following completion of the activity. A final accounting of funds must be submitted within 60 days of the end of the activity. All unused funds must be returned to the Mental Health and Recovery Board.

It is possible that mini grants may not be available in the future or that a project funded once may not receive funds a second time, so mini grants should be viewed as one-time only funds.

If you have any questions about applying for these grants, call the Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board at (513)732-5400 or email Cindy Knoblauch at cknoblauch@ccmhrb.org.