BY WALT SCHAEFER
The Cincinnati Enquirer
BATAVIA -- Money for seven capital improvement projects in Clermont County was included as part of a comprehensive statewide $1.7 billion bricks-and-mortar budget bill passed Wednesday by the Ohio Senate. The Ohio House approved the bill earlier this week.
Money has been earmarked for Clermont projects ranging from expansion of the county's communications center to a feasibility study for an Ohio River Bike Trail from Lunken Airport in Hamilton County to the bandstand in New Richmond.
In all, about $1.84 million of the pot will go to Clermont County for the seven projects.
Southwest Ohio Development Center, $780,800.
Jeff Davis, deputy director of the state Department of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities in Columbus, said the money would be used to renovate and expand the dietary services building, and renovate residential cottages and the program and support center building at the state-operated developmental and residential center in Batavia Township.
Clermont County Communications Center, $250,000.
Suzanne Alexander, legislative aide to State Rep. Rose
Vesper, R-New Richmond, said the money represents a little less than 50 percent of the funding needed to expand the center off Bauer Road in Batavia Township and improve communications capabilities. Ohio Department of Natural Resources, $250,000; East Fork Watercraft - Parks office, $250,000 for operations facilities. Charles Clark, park manager at East Fork State Park straddling Batavia and Tate townships, said the money will help pay for a new "people-friendly" office for both the Division of Parks and the Division of Watercraft.
Ms. Alexander said the $500,000 combined will pay for planning and site development.
University of Cincinnati Clermont College renovation, $154,181. Jim McDonough, dean of UC's Clermont campus, said the money would renovate the lunchroom and student gathering area after a 44,000-square-foot building is constructed on campus. The state money would not be used until 2000, after the new building is completed, he said.
Clermont County Airport, $100,000.
Bill Anderson, spokesman for Eastern Cincinnati Aviation, which manages the airport for the county, said the money would be used to build a taxiway to improve safety.
New Richmond Ohio River trail study, $40,000.
Village Administrator David Kennedy said the money would be added to about $170,000 already acquired from local governments, civic and fraternal groups, businesses and residents along the proposed bikeway to pay for a feasibility study of the trail.
Bethel-Tate Fire Department safety trailer, $14,000.
Ms. Alexander said the money would allow the department to buy a safety trailer -- a fire safety educational tool for use at schools, community events and other occasions.