Sunday, December 7, 2003

Bill brings benefits to Tristate

$10 million list includes art, sewers

By Carl Weiser
Enquirer Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - Money for art, sewers and even medicine-mixing robots are among the $10 million in goodies for the Tristate included in a final massive spending bill that the U.S. House is expected to approve Monday.

The Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati will get $800,000 to help keep sewers from overflowing into rivers or backing up into basements during storms.

The Taft Museum of Art will get $200,000 to continue programs that bring art and artists to students. With a $2 million annual operating budget, the $200,000 is a huge help to the museum, spokeswoman Tamera Lenz Muente said.

"It's really great. I hope they vote yes," she said.

Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, added $640,000 for a drug-mixing robot for Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, coming in March. The first of its kind in the Tristate, the machine - the size of several refrigerators - mixes drugs for patients, according to Jack Horn, the hospital's director of pharmacy.

Doctors feed syringes and medication vials into one end, punch in the orders, and the machine draws the exact amount for each patient, he said. "Then it puts a label on it and it pops out the other side," Horn said.

Its main advantage: safety.

"With any manual process, even though we don't make many errors, any are unacceptable," Horn said. "The main reason we want this device is it doesn't make any mistakes."

Rep. Rob Portman and DeWine added a paragraph to the spending bill requiring the federal government to give up a building it co-owns to Hamilton County, which will use it for a one-stop employment center.

"We're thrilled. We think this is great progress," said Doug Moormann, a lobbyist for the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber is helping lead efforts to establish the one-stop employment center at 1916 Central Parkway near Over-the-Rhine. It will offer computers, classrooms, and training. The chamber now is waiting for the state to relinquish control of the building, which Washington and Columbus jointly owned.

Freshman Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, added $700,000 for updating and expanding Clinton Memorial Hospital's emergency room.

Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport will get $2 million for equipment that will guide planes to its new north-south runway, scheduled to open in 2005.

The money is contained in earmarks, lines or paragraphs Congress members add to spending bills.

The Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal will get two earmarks, courtesy of Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati. The museum will use $350,000 to turn a basement room - once a parking garage and luggage storage area - into exhibit space. It will get another $400,000 to improve and offer more tours for school groups, spokesman Rodger Pille said.

"We're in a very tenuous financial situation right now," Pille said. "Every little bit helps."

This latest round of local earmarks comes on top of the more than $150 million in earmarks Greater Cincinnati got in the previous spending bills.

The federal budget is made up of 13 spending bills; Congress was supposed to have finished the budget by Sept. 30. But it failed to make its deadline.

The $820 billion package to be voted on Monday contains the last seven spending bills rolled into one. The Senate could vote on the same package Tuesday.

Spending list

Some other items earmarked for the Cincinnati area on top of $150 million OK'd earlier by Congress:

$2.4 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to begin replacing their facilities in Cincinnati.

$2.2 million for Underground Railroad education programs, much of which will end up at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

$1.875 million for the University of Cincinnati's College of Medicine to renovate its 2,500-room Medical Sciences building.

$1 million for the Knowledge Works Foundation for its Ohio High School Transformation Initiative.

$500,000 for Northern Kentucky University's Urban Learning Center, which provides mostly adults with continuing education and job training.

$500,000 for Cincinnati Police improve record-keeping.

$500,000 for a University of Cincinnati program that studies efforts to prevent underage drinking.

$342,500 to build the Great Miami River Recreational Trail in Warren County.

$300,000 for the University of Cincinnati's Ohio Partnership for Accountability, which is examining how the preparation of teachers affects students' performance.

$100,000 for the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens for fiber-optic data transmission.

$100,000 for North Star Productions in Bracken County, Ky.


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