Lebanon seeks $400,000 from state for downtown entertainment plaza

Published: Saturday, December 23, 2017 @ 8:00 AM


            Lebanon has renewed efforts to to run part of its downtown streets into an entertainment district. Bollards would be used to set off the part of Mulberry Street that would be designated as an entertainment plaza. CONTRIBUTED
Lebanon has renewed efforts to to run part of its downtown streets into an entertainment district. Bollards would be used to set off the part of Mulberry Street that would be designated as an entertainment plaza. CONTRIBUTED

A block of one of downtown Lebanon’s main streets would become an intermittent party zone, the Mulberry Street Downtown Entertainment Plaza, according to a plan being promoted again by city leaders.

Earlier this month, the Lebanon City Council gave city staff the green light to apply for $400,000 in state capital funds - to be matched with $243,000 in local money - to pay for pavers, a WiFi system, removable bollards (short posts used to divert traffic from an area or road), lighting, signs and other amenities for the stretch of Mulberry running from Broadway - the city’s main downtown thoroughfare - a block east to Mechanic Street.

In 2015, Ohio became the seventh state to permit public drinking in designated entertainment districts. Cities and towns with populations between 35,000 and 50,000 will be allowed to create one open container district; those with 50,000 or more residents can create two outdoor drinking zones. The districts must include at least four businesses with alcohol permits and can be no more than a half-mile square

MORE: Huber Heights entertainment district plan moves forward

The project would also leave Mulberry Street a “bicycle-friendly corridor” and connect it with the the existing Lebanon Countryside YMCA Trail system that currently ends in downtown, according to the application for state capital improvement funds.

“As the Director of the Lebanon Area Chamber, I support this concept and feel strongly that this is a necessary change that will continue to help our downtown develop, grow and prosper,” Renee Wisser, executive director of the Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce, said in a letter to be included in the application for state funds.

Two years ago, this plan was shelved when the city decided to focus on a broader plan for redevelopment of the entire downtown business district, The Think!Downtown Master Plan.

RELATED: Lebanon’s plan for pedestrian plaza shelved

One of the takeaways from this planning process, wrapped up last year, was to move forward with a modified version of the previous Mulberry Street Entertainment Plaza plan.

“The street will remain open when there are no events programmed for this block, and then temporarily closed with the removable bollards when an event is going on. All of the on-street parking will remain in place. I believe this addresses the majority of the concerns that were raised during the 2015 meeting with the property owners,” Lebanon City Manager Scott Brunka said in an email last week.

Bill Duning, a lawyer and landlord whose office and home are in the same building on Mulberry Street, east of the proposed entertainment plaza, expressed surprise the plan was back on track.

Duning said he and LCNB Bank President Steve Foster were concerned in 2015 with how the plaza would restrict access for customers and residents.

MORE: Pedestrian plaza proposed in downtown Lebanon

“There are a dozen people that rent from us that depend on Mulberry to get in and out,” Duning said last week.

The plaza would be set up for special events, including Applefest, the Christmas Carriage Parade Festival and summer music festivals.

On-street parking would still be available, Brunka said.

The latest version of the plaza plan would allow for the bollards to be easily moved and removed to limit road blocks.

MORE: Report: Entertainment districts fuel binge drinking

Duning said Mulberry Street was the heart of historic downtown. He said he was unsure if the latest version would assuage his concerns.

“We all know what happens when you stop a heartbeat,” he said.

Greg Grote, co-owner of the Royce Cafe & Coffee House at 30 E. Mulberry St., was conflicted about the plaza plan.

The plaza would probably draw new customers to the business, which already serves wine and mimosas, and is seeking a license to serve beer, he said.

At the same time, Grote expressed concern it could limit parking for regular customers.

“Parking is always an issue,” said.

Lawmaker Jeff Rezabek won’t run for re-election to Ohio House

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 4:25 PM

State Rep. Jeff Rezabek, R-Clayton.
State Rep. Jeff Rezabek, R-Clayton.

State Rep. Jeff Rezabek, R-Clayton, announced today he will not seek re-election and will instead run for an unspecified Montgomery County office.

Rezabek, an attorney specializing in juvenile cases, ran unsuccessfully for Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Juvenile division judge in 2012. He declined to say if he will run for the seat being vacated at the end of the year by Juvenile Judge Nick Kuntz, who cannot run for re-election due to age limitations for judges.

First elected to the Statehouse in 2014, Rezabek won a bitter re-election battle in 2016 against David Sparks of Clayton.

RELATED: Race for 43rd House district has turned ugly

Rezabek will announce his intentions on Thursday at an 11:30 a.m. news conference at the Dayton Racquet Club, 40 N. Main St., in Dayton.

Clayton Councilman Kenny Henning said he will file to run in the Republican primary for Rezabek’s seat.

Kenny Henning, Clayton councilman(Staff Writer)

Henning will make the formal announcement at an 11:30 a.m. news conference Friday at the Miami Valley Career Technology Center’s adult center, 6801 Hoke Road, Clayton.

RELATED: Rezabek bill would give judges more say on trying juveniles as adults

“I’m 100 percent invested in the community and I want to ensure that our 43rd House district has a strong champion to advocate for the district in Columbus.” said Henning, who is a judicial assistant to Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Erik Blaine.

A Clayton native who has served on the council since 2012, Henning said his campaign will focus on farming and agriculture, the concerns of small business owners and trying to restore Local Government Fund revenue slashed by the state legislature. He said he also wants to address the opioid addiction crisis.

RELATED: Donald Trump is the new president and local residents saw it happen in person

Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley has expressed interest in running for the seat in the Democratic primary, according to Mark Owens, chairman of the Montgomery County Democratic Party. Foley, who does not plan to run for re-election, is in his last year as a county commissioner. He did not respond to requests for comment.

Dan Foley, Montgomery County commissioner, speaks at the Engineers Club in Dayton. FILE(Staff Writer)

The only person who has obtained nominating petitions from the Montgomery County Board of Elections for the 43rd House seat is Ralph Dean Brill, a Brookville Democrat. He could not be reached for comment.

The filing deadline for the May 8 primary is Feb. 7.

RELATED: Dan Foley won’t run again for Montgomery County commission

Owens said the 43rd House district is about evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans and can be won by a Democrat like Foley.

“If he’s willing to get out and roll up his sleeves and work I think he can win it,” Owens said.

Owens said he has also discussed the 43rd House race with other possible candidates, but he declined to say who they are.

RELATED: Ohio could have two redistricting proposals on ballots this year

The district covers parts of Englewood, Clayton, Trotwood, western Montgomery County and all of Preble County.

Multiple people have pulled petitions to run for Foley’s county commission seat. Democrats include Montgomery County Treasurer Carolyn Rice and Daryl Ward, senior pastor of Omega Baptist Church in Dayton. Both Rice and Ward have turned in their nominating petitions.

RELATED: Candidates seek to replace Foley on Montgomery County commission

Republicans include former Miami Twp. Trustee Bob Matthews and current Miami Twp. Trustee Doug Barry, both of whom have turned in petitions. Petitions have been obtained but not submited by Greg Hart and Joshua Smith, both Dayton Republicans.

Other stores by Lynn Hulsey

Kucinich launches governor bid; is in area today

U.S. Senate candidates Renacci and Brown spar over Trump’s comment about immigrants

Husted wants new voting machines in every county in Ohio

Clayton pushing to make public more aware that golf club is city owned

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 10:04 AM


            The city of Clayton took over ownership of Meadowbrook Country Club, now Meadowbrook at Clayton, in 2015 after it was donated to the city by Larry and Tina Harris of LGH Properties LLC. City officials are reviewing marketing efforts for the facility. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
The city of Clayton took over ownership of Meadowbrook Country Club, now Meadowbrook at Clayton, in 2015 after it was donated to the city by Larry and Tina Harris of LGH Properties LLC. City officials are reviewing marketing efforts for the facility. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Clayton officials are trying to figure out how to market a golf course and banquet space donated to the city three years ago.

City council will hold a workshop on Thursday, Jan. 18 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss how to make the public more aware of Meadowbrook at Clayton, which includes a golf course, banquet center and swimming pools.

Meadowbrook was privately-owned until it was donated to the city in April 2015. Since then, the city has been trying to figure out how best to market the banquet space and golf course to the Miami Valley.

The workshop, in council chambers at 6996 Taywood Rd., is open to the public but no public input will be accepted at that time, said City Clerk Barbara Seim.

“This is just an ideas and information session, there’s no action item, no voting,” Seim said.

Meadowbrook staff will present to city council current marketing efforts as well as what they hope to do in the future.

“It’s great that they want our input,” Bill Williams, director of golf at Meadowbrook said.

After the workshop, members of the community can stay to comment or share ideas during the city council meeting that follows at 7 p.m.

The city is placing an emphasis on marketing Meadowbrook because many don’t know they have access to the golf course and banquet hall now, city officials said.

“We were private for so long that people don’t realize we’re public now,” Williams said.

Larry and Tina Harris of LGH Properties LLC donated Meadowbrook Country Club, a 171-acre club, to the city. The property consists of a 65,000 square-foot banquet center, clubhouse, Olympic-sized pool, baby pool, driving range and 18-hole golf course.

Clayton City Manager Rick Rose has “really taken the lead” on promoting the Meadowbrook, according to Williams.

“Since it was a donation to the city, we didn’t have a department to take it over, so as city manager I’ve just taken it upon myself to make sure it succeeds,” Rose said. “We are a small city and it is a group effort of employees and elected officials.”

According to Rose in 2016, the first full year the city owned Meadowbrook, its revenues were $483,203 plus an additional $252,000 in transfers from the general fund. The following year’s revenues were $507,481. Transfers from the general fund were $162,480.

“In general, cities spend somewhere between 2 and 11 percent of their general fund budget to supplement their parks and recreation facilities. Clayton is on track to be in the five percent range,” Rose said.

Rose said the goal of the workshop is to discuss different directions the city could go with marketing. He hopes the change in marketing will increase direct revenues and lessen general fund transfers.

He wants to encourage the public to play on the golf course and get word out about all the different events the banquet center can be used for. The ultimate goal is to increase golf outings and rentals of the banquet center.

Meadowbrook currently uses social media for marketing but the city is hoping to “change it up.”

“We want to broaden our reach and put in the minds of everyone that (Meadowbrook) is open to the public,” Rose said. “Meadowbrook at Clayton is not just a golf course and banquet facility but also a place to hold public events and bring our community together.”

In addition to the marketing, the city is upgrading and remodeling parts of the building, another change they hope to finish this year..

Fire department back in place in Warren County township

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 11:00 AM


            The Massie Twp. Fire Department has a new chief, Donald Fuguate, and is back in operation.
The Massie Twp. Fire Department has a new chief, Donald Fuguate, and is back in operation.

The Massie Twp. Fire Department is back in business.

On Tuesday night, the township trustees picked Donald Fugate to succeed Fire Chief Scott Hines, who resigned on Jan. 2.

RELATED: Warren County’s Massie Twp. meeting tonight over fire department future

Fugate was the captain reporting to Hines, the only paid member of the volunteer department.

Hines resigned after learning he was under scrutiny for purchasing food for firefighters, and part of the department’s entirely volunteer force resigned too.

Emergency medical service - handled through mutual aid with Wayne Twp., Warren County, and Chester Twp., Clinton County - still has to be returned to the department, Trustee David Crisenbery said.

“We’re checking protocols seeing how quick we can get our EMS back on,” Crisenbery said.

MORE: Beavercreek Twp. announces fire department promotions

The trustees also plan to move ahead with forming a joint district with Chester Twp.

Warren County’s Massie Twp. meeting tonight over fire department future

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 11:43 AM


            The Massie Twp. Board of Trustees has called a special meeting for 6:30 p.m. today to discuss the future of the township fire department.
The Massie Twp. Board of Trustees has called a special meeting for 6:30 p.m. today to discuss the future of the township fire department.

The Massie Twp. Board of Trustees called a special meeting for 6:30 p.m. today to discuss the future of the township fire department.

Fire Chief Scott Hines, the department’s only paid employee, resigned on Jan. 2 after learning he was under scrutiny for purchasing food for firefighters, and part of the department’s entirely volunteer force resigned too.

“They left us with a skeleton crew,” Trustee David Crisenbery said this morning.

MORE: Safety questions raised about Caesar Creek marina

The township, home to about 1,500 residents, is on the south side of Caesar Creek Lake. The department handles emergency calls from the lake.

Since Hines’ resignation, fire and emergency calls are being handled by the remaining department along with mutual aid from fire departments in Wayne Twp., Warren County, and Chester Twp., Clinton County.

The trustees are also weighing creating a joint fire district with Chester Twp. with new levies supporting the operation.

“That is the goal,” Trustee Daryl McKinney said.

MORE: Coach boating with daughter drowns in Caesar Creek Lake

A larger district qualifies for more grants, McKinney said.

The Massie Twp department operates on a $92,000 budget from two levies.

MORE: Beavercreek Twp. to build $2.5 million fire station

Crisenbery said the township could seek an additional local levy to fund part-time paid firefighters. Also, Hines’ replacement could be picked, Crisenbery added.

“Anything’s possible tonight,” Crisenbery said. “All options, I feel, should be on the table.”

Hines said he was working with the Village of Harveysburg on creating a fire department, taking over fire and ambulance services within its municipal limits within Massie Twp.

He accused Trustee Mark Dawson of “micromanaging” him for more than two years.

“I just got tired of it,” he said.

Dawson could not be reached to respond.

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the township fire station, 10 N. Harveysburg Road.