WILMINGTON — Ohio’s 2017-18 Capital Improvements Budget Bill (Capital Budget) has $6.04 million earmarked for Clinton County projects, including $3 million for Wilmington Air Park aviation-related uses.
The other projects slated to receive funds are the Wilmington College Center for the Sciences and Agriculture at $1.5 million, Clarksville Fire Training Center at $850,000, the Clinton County Fairgrounds at $250,000, J.W. Denver Williams Jr. Memorial Park at $200,000, Little Hearts Big Smiles all-children playground at $100,000, Clarksville reservoir safety upgrades at $100,000, and Blanchester playground at $40,000.
Of the $3 million for the air park, Clinton County Port Authority Executive Director Daniel Evers said, “We view this as a fantastic opportunity to make re-investments in the physical infrastructure at the air park and in aviation-related assets. Broadly speaking, that represents runway, ramp and taxiway repair or replacement, joint sealing and re-investment in instrument landing systems.”
He added, “We are extremely appreciative of the hard work of [Ohio House] Speaker Rosenberger and Senator [Bob] Peterson, the Dayton Development Coalition in making the air park a regional priority, and the support we received from the county in pursuit of these funds.”
State funding through Wilmington College’s articulation partnership with Southern State Community College would serve to establish a Center for Distinction in Agricultural Education in Wilmington College’s Center for the Sciences & Agriculture, according to a WC news release.
The center for distinction would address the national shortage of agriculture teachers in Ohio high schools through an interdisciplinary approach that would ultimately produce greater numbers of dual major graduates — agriculture and education — that pursue agricultural education licensure, the release added.
“The college is pleased to see the legislature recognize the importance of agricultural education as a key driver in the state’s economic development and growth,” WC President Jim Reynolds said, noting that agriculture and teacher education constitute WC’s top two largest academic areas.
The Clarksville Fire Training Center project is a partnership between the Clarksville-Warren Joint Fire District and Sinclair Community College, according to a media release from Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) and State Sen. Bob Peterson (R-Sabina).
The funding will go toward a classroom and training infrastructure to be available for rural, volunteer departments throughout Ohio, the release stated.
“One project I’m especially excited about is the collaboration with Sinclair to provide our volunteer firefighters with an additional resource as they selflessly strive to improve the public safety in our communities,” Rosenberger said.
The Clinton County Agricultural Society (Fair Board) President Scot Gerber said board members are excited about the announced funding and “look forward to put it to good use.”
Two fairground projects are being eyed: To complete covering the grandstand, and tearing down the Building C horse facility and replacing it with a larger horse barn facility.
Building C is in “pretty bad repair,” said Gerber.
Presently, the grandstand is partly covered from the rain and sun, and the project would involve extending out beams to complete the cover.
Wilmington City Parks & Recreation Director Lori Kersey Williams said the money will partly fund “redoing” of the old playground at Denver Williams Park, and the construction of handicap-accessible restrooms in the park’s central area.
She said she is “very, very happy” the park is a recipient, and also happy for students in Wilmington High School’s new pre-engineering classes who will redesign the old playground and know their work can be carried out.
Deirdre Wulf, who is Little Hearts Big Smiles co-founder and grant writer, said the $100,000 awarded to that nonprofit group will go toward handicap-accessible restrooms at the all-children playground on land off Five Avenue.
She said organization members are aware they probably will need to raise some additional funds and are confident a supportive community will come through once again.
“Our understanding is Mr. Rosenberger really advocated heavily for our organization, and we are so appreciative of that support, and so appreciative of the community,” said Wulf.
First-year Clarksville Mayor John Neeley said the money directed to the village, which remains in a fiscal emergency, will go toward an upground reservoir that sits abandoned. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, he said, has concerns about a potential dam break that could flood that end of town.
As opposed to simply safeguarding the animal-damaged dam, Neeley said another option is to decommission the reservoir and get the entire property cleaned up. That would open up a future possibility to use the site as a park or something of that nature. The mayor thanked Rosenberger and staff.
Blanchester Park and Recreation Director Terry McCrone said village officials are “quite grateful” for the funds. He anticipates the dollars will go toward acquiring new playground equipment and updating the playground area at Veterans Memorial Park, along with obtaining fitness equipment for the walking track.
There are two Capital Budget projects outside Clinton County that would directly benefit Clinton Countians: a Fayette County public safety communications tower project at $1.38 million, and a Warren County Todds Fork Trail project at $700,000.
The new communications tower in Fayette County would supplement a digital emergency radio system that was launched in Clinton County in summer 2015. The village of Sabina in Clinton County, in particular, is expected to benefit from a new Fayette County tower.
And the hope is a Todds Fork Trail will connect Clarksville with the Little Miami scenic trail system at Morrow, said local trails advocate Laura Curliss.
According to the Ohio Office of Budget and Management (OBM) website, during the last Capital Budget cycle for fiscal years 2015 and 2016, Clinton County projects were awarded $200,000. The recipients were The Murphy Theatre at $150,000 and the Clinton County Farmer’s and Sportsman’s Association at $50,000.
In the Capital Improvement Budget Bill for fiscal years 2013 and 2014, no dollars were awarded to a project within Clinton County, according to a State of Ohio government website.
Ohio’s biennial Capital Budget is enacted in each even-numbered year, and provides appropriations for the repair, reconstruction and construction of the state’s capital assets, according to OBM’s website.
Funds also may be allocated for community projects of local or regional interest, the OBM website added.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768, and Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510.