Unused bridge gets $500k federal grant

Published: Sunday, August 19, 2012 @ 11:00 AM
Updated: Sunday, August 19, 2012 @ 11:00 AM

The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded Greene County a $520,000 federal grant to restore a historic covered bridge that is closed to traffic and carries few pedestrians in a lightly-traveled area of Xenia Twp.

All told, the Stevenson Road Covered Bridge will cost $650,000 to restore, according to engineering estimates, with the county kicking in the last $130,000. The bridge sits alongside Stevenson Road, connecting grassy areas on either side of Massie’s Creek, and is not attached to a park, bike/walk path or other attraction.

Ohio has more than 100 remaining covered bridges, five in Greene County, and many historical groups support preserving them.

“Covered bridges are pretty rare everywhere now,” said Catherine Wilson, director of the Greene County Historical Society. “A lot of tourists visit them.”

But Xenia Twp. trustee Jim Reed, who was not involved in the county’s grant application, is upset about federal priorities, given that spending on a nonfunctional bridge will cost more than Xenia Twp.’s entire annual roads budget of $610,000.

“Those grants should be coming down for the basics – repairing aging water lines, sewer lines, roads,” Reed said. “These projects, because they’re somebody’s pet project, those are getting priority, and it makes absolutely no sense.”

Greene County is not the only jurisdiction to get one of these grants. The National Historic Covered Bridge Preservation Program approved 22 of the 28 applications submitted for 2012, and will dole out $9.76 million. Miami County will receive an $80,000 grant for work on the Eldean Bridge in Troy, which carries some traffic and is adjacent to a recreational trail and park complex.

In the past seven years, the program has approved $62.2 million for more than 150 covered bridges nationwide, some that are still used by vehicles, some that are not.

Greene County engineer Bob Geyer said bridge expert John Smolen of Smolen Engineering sent in the grant application with his approval after load-testing the bridge. Geyer said he’s seen the $520,000 grant award listed on a government website, but said he hasn’t been officially notified.

“This is money set aside in a transportation bill by senators and congressmen, and if I didn’t get it, someone else would,” Geyer said. “This is all coming out of federal gas tax money that you pay at the pump every time you put a gallon of gas in your car.”

Brad Bieghler, who helped found the Tea Party-affiliated Beavercreek Liberty Group, doesn’t believe that’s a good reason.

“Our nation is $15 or 16 trillion in debt,” he said. “Just because somebody says, well gee, the money’s there, they’re giving the money away anyway, so let’s take advantage of it … that’s got to stop.”

Smolen called covered bridges “a piece of Americana.” In addition to sending in the Stevenson Road application, his company has bid on multiple projects in Greene County and designed the new covered bridge in Hueston Woods State Park in Preble County. Geyer said any contracts to work on the Stevenson bridge would come as the result of a competitive bid process.

The Stevenson Road Covered Bridge was built over Massie’s Creek in 1877. Wilson said it is Greene County’s last remaining bridge built by the famed Smith Bridge Company of Tipp City.

The Ohio Department of Transportation website calls historic bridges “a cultural resource as well as a work of art.” Nancy Campbell of the Ohio Historic Preservation Office said the Stevenson Bridge is not one of the state’s rare, highest priority bridges, but it is eligible for consideration for the National Register of Historic Places.

The bridge carried traffic until 2003, but was a problem for emergency vehicles, which had to detour around it. That year, the county built a $650,000 modern concrete bridge 100 feet downstream and moved Stevenson Road there, stranding the old bridge.

On a recent visit to the bridge, No Trespassing signs warned people away from the east entrance. The interior of the bridge was covered in graffiti, some of it sexually and racially profane, and beer bottles were strewn around one side.

Dorothy Pitzer, who has lived just uphill from the bridge for 40 years, said she misses driving through the bridge, but rarely sees much activity there now, either from tour groups or people causing trouble.

She likes the history of it, but was surprised that the restoration plan would replace almost all of the bridge — the floor system, roof and siding.

“I don’t know why they would do that, because nobody uses it,” Pitzer said. “It just sits over by itself. … I guess I can see both sides (of the issue).”

Because it doesn’t connect to anything, the Stevenson Road bridge reminds some of the “bridge to nowhere” — a 2005 proposal in Alaska that would have spent millions to connect two towns with tiny populations. That project was canceled amid public outcry.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, sent out a press release when the grant was approved this month, calling the bridge, “an important historical landmark to the community.” But a spokesman for Brown said the senator wasn’t involved in the process, saying his office was notified after the grant was approved.

Reed, a township trustee, understands that this Department of Transportation money is earmarked specifically for this type of project, but he hopes that will change.

“There are roads – not county roads, but local roads in nearby jurisdictions — that are so rough, you need four-wheel drive to get to people’s homes,” he said. “You can’t tell me that day-to-day travel projects aren’t more important than other frivolous projects.”

Geyer said the county will continue to work on its five covered bridges. Only the Ballard Road bridge is currently open to traffic, and it’s at the bottom of a dead-end road. He said funding has been in place to fix the Engle Mill Road Bridge for years, and he hopes to get that project out to bid in 2012.

The county and the Ohio Public Works Commission will split the $700,000 cost of replacing the Charleton Mill Covered Bridge, which closed last year. Geyer said that one was “too far gone” to rehab, but he’s going to put in a new wood truss capable of carrying legal load limits, while maintaining the look of an old covered bridge from the outside.

“I’d like to get all of the old covered bridges rehabilitated so they’re here for future generations,” Geyer said. “It’s history.”

The second National Covered Bridge Conference will be held in Dayton in June 2013.

2 face off in Troy council fight

Published: Saturday, April 22, 2017 @ 2:00 AM

The Republican primary race May 2 for Troy City Council’s 5th Ward features incumbent Bill Twiss and challenger William Rozell.

No other candidate has filed for the seat, though an independent could still seek the position.

Twiss, 41, is a Troy native in his second term on council. He said his goal is to keep the city a great place to live work and play.

“Having four young children, I feel it is my duty as a councilman to preserve the quality of life for both my family and other Trojans,” Twiss said.

CHECK OUT OUR ELECTION 2017 VOTER GUIDE

Rozell, 57, is making his first bid for elected public office.

“It may sound corny, but Troy truly is a great place to have been raised, to live, and I want to be part of ensuring that continues,” Rozell said.

Being retired from the state auditor’s office, he has time to do the council job, he said.

The top issues facing the city include continued economic growth, Twiss said.

“I want to maintain a strong, working relationship with current businesses in Troy,” he said. He said he’s seen industries expand immensely such as Clopay, ConAgra, ARC Abrasives and F&P America.

“In addition to this growth, I want to continue to support small local businesses that make Troy unique,” Twiss said.

Other issues include safety and crime prevention, he said. “I have worked diligently to support the outstanding police and fire departments that we are blessed to have here in Troy. While they continue to receive high accreditations, I want to make sure the departments are fully supported and have the resources needed to be prepared to deal with the changing safety and crime issues Troy is now facing,” Twiss said.

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Rozell said the top issues facing the city include medical marijuana.

“While this has been decided at the present, I believe it will continue to be an issue that will be brought back to council in the future,” he said, adding he’d be willing to revisit the issue once the state has rules and guidelines established and enacted. The council recently voted to ban medical marijuana cultivating, processing and dispensing within the city limits.

Other issues Rozell identified include the city budget. “I believe it is each council member’s responsibility to prudently review proposed expenditures to ensure that the city maintains its solid financial footing.”

Another issue is safety, Rozell said, noting that while day-to-day safety is the administration’s responsibility, the council needs to ensure necessary personnel, equipment and technology are provided to maintain safety of employees and the citizens.

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»5 vying for 3 at-large council seats in GOP primary

5 vying for 3 at-large council seats in GOP primary in Troy

Published: Sunday, April 23, 2017 @ 8:00 AM


            Troy City Hall. FILE

Five Republicans are seeking three at-large seats on the Troy City Council in the May 2 primary election.

Two of the candidates, Robin Oda and Lynne Snee, are incumbents. Todd Severt previously served on council, William Lutz previously ran for a council ward seat and Thomas Andrew Brinkman is making a first bid for elected office in Troy.

The third current at large council member, John Terwilliger, is running for council’s 2nd Ward seat now held by fellow Republican Doug Tremblay, who is not seeking re-election. Terwilliger will face a Democratic opponent in the fall.

There is no Democratic opposition for the at large race.

Independent candidates have until May 1 to file to run.

CHECK OUT OUR ELECTION 2017 VOTER GUIDE

Robin Oda

Oda, 56, is in her third, two-year term. “This office is one of public service and I have enjoyed the process,” she said.

Oda said she first ran for council to add a perspective not represented – as a wife and mom who had managed three children, a household and a budget. “I expected accountability of my kids when they were growing up, and I expect accountability of myself and others who work for the city of Troy,” she said.

Oda said the heroin epidemic is the top issue. “We need to be emphasizing the reality of choices and the consequences … Devastated people, devastated families, devastated friends, devastated communities… the ripple effects go way beyond what they will ever know,” she said. “That said, if a person wants help, the help is there for them, and we have to be ready to do that.”

»RELATED: 10 heroin overdoses in 24 hours in Miami County

Oda said she’d also like to see the city and other government entities take advantage of the Ohio Checkbook program to provide more financial transparency and for the city be more aggressive in upgrading roads and infrastructure.

Lynne Snee

Snee, 50, also is in her third term. “I think that I have gained a lot of experience during my time on city council,” she said.

Snee is a teacher in the Troy schools, holds a master’s in public administration and has experience working in government of a mid-size city. “I am knowledgeable about local government services and current issues. My career as a teacher … gives me a unique perspective on the important cooperation needed between the city and the schools,” she said.

Snee said the city’s top issue continues to be economic development and providing amenities to residents. “I believe that providing these amenities, such as recreational opportunities for all age groups, programming funds for events and upgrades to our park system is a vital part of working with our businesses to attract a strong workforce to Troy,” she said.

»RELATED: Troy income tax on May ballot

Other issues, Snee said, include continuing to provide a high level of protective service to citizens and continuing to work locally and with the state to maintain a well-planned street repair and paving program.

Todd Severt

Severt, 52, who served on council 1995-1999, is a lawyer in Troy. “I feel I can give back to my community through effective representation of the wishes of the citizens of Troy,” he said. He said he chose not to run again in the late 1990s following the birth of his daughter. “I feel I was an effective councilmember last time and hope the citizens give me a chance to return to a job I loved,” Severt said.

He said the top issue facing the city is the influx and increase of drugs. “When the bathroom at Walgreens requires a lock and key to prohibit overdoses from occurring within, we have a serious problem,” he said.

»RELATED: Forum looked at heroin impact

A second issue is jobs with a need for the city to actively seek new employers for the community through enterprise zone agreements or other investment programs, Severt said. He also said the city needs to work to improve viability of the Sherwood Shopping Center through a public-private partnership.

William Lutz

Lutz, 39, served on the city board of education in 2012 and 2013. He is director of New Path not for profiit organization and previously worked as the first Bethel Township administrator and for the city of Piqua.

“It has been more than luck that has allowed our community to become as successful as it is,” Lutz said. “My greatest desire in seeking this office is to continue that tradition of looking toward the future.”

Among top issues facing the city are the changing face of economic development, heroin and the civic capacity of the community, Lutz said.

“The strategy is beginning to change. Instead of attracting and retaining the employer, we are looking at attracting and retaining the employee,” he said. With heroin, Lutz said he would work to secure resources to help those battling addictions daily. He’d also work to improve civic engagement by introducing innovative programs to engage residents such as a government academy.

»RELATED: Miami County Heroin Coalition launched to help fight addiction

Thomas Andrew Brinkman

Brinkman declined to answer questions submitted to all candidates, saying he was not actively campaigning.

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2 face off in Troy council fight

Troy tax issue would fund recreation projects

Troy tax issue would fund recreation projects

Published: Monday, April 24, 2017 @ 4:55 PM


            Money from a proposed income tax in Troy would be used for several recreation and park projects including at Duke Park (shown here), the Senior Citizens Center and Miami Shores Golf Course. STEVE BAKER / STAFF

Voters in Troy will decide May 2 whether to pay an added 0.25-percent income tax for 10 years for a series of recreation-related projects proposed by the Operation Recreation 2020 Committee.

The income tax proposal was brought forward just weeks after council voted Nov. 7 to pull from the Nov. 8 ballot a property tax to pay for a list of recreation/park projects proposed by the Operation Recreation committee, a group of around a dozen organizations offering recreation activities across the community. The request was withdrawn because of a misplaced decimal point in ballot language.

»RELATED: Troy pulls park levy from November ballot day before election

The property tax would have raised $1 million a year for 10 years.

The proposed income tax would generate $2.57 million a year to pay for the initial list of projects proposed by Operation Recreation along with a second sheet of ice near Hobart Arena. The ice sheet was added to the proposal as options were reviewed following the property tax withdrawal.

»RELATED: Troy group to push for $8 million park levy

There is no organized opposition to the tax proposal.

The proposed project list in the Operation Recreation proposal includes:

Duke Park: A nine-field baseball/softball complex; three youth soccer fields; improvements of infrastructure to consolidate park maintenance operations; expanded parking; added park entrances; and other park enhancements. The fields would include those for Troy Junior Baseball, which has been talking about a new home because of flooding at its complex next to the Great Miami River north of Troy.

Miami Shores Golf Course: Complete renovation of clubhouse; installation of outdoor practice driving range.

Senior Citizens Center: Repair/renovations to roof, siding, foundation, doors, windows and concrete; restoration of shuffleboard courts; parking lot resurfacing.

The project also would include a privately funded Miracle League baseball field for those with physical disabilities. The field would be built with the additional fields at Duke Park.

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A $1 million commitment over 10 years announced recently by The Troy Foundation would be used to pay for the Miracle League Field at an estimated $500,000 with the balance going to other ancillary needs of the projects, said Bobby Phillips, Operation Recreation committee president. The $100,000 a year is contingent on the income tax approval May 2.

»Troy Foundation matching money to help non

Mayor Mike Beamish said the proposal goes hand in hand with his goals for protecting the city’s recreational amenities and enhancing them as well as the city can.

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“This (proposal) is one-quarter percent but will generate so many activities for so many organizations. We need activities for all ages and this takes care of all ages,” Beamish said. Updated and added recreational facilities can only add to the city’s attractiveness to families and others employers would like to attract to fill local jobs, he added.

“It affects every strata of our city, whether you use it or not,” Phillips said of the facilities.

From an economic development standpoint, the facilities would allow for added events such as tournaments and ice skating activities, bringing money for hotels, restaurants and other businesses visitors would frequent, he said.

Contact this contributing writer at nancykburr@aol.com

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»5 vying for 3 at-large council seats in GOP primary

3 seek to be next Huber Heights mayor

Published: Saturday, April 22, 2017 @ 10:00 AM


            .

Three candidates for Huber Heights mayor will face off in Ohio’s May 2 primary election.

Jeff Gore, Albert Griggs Jr. and David Wilson are candidates to fill the seat currently held by Mayor Tom McMasters, who is not seeking re-election.

Voters in the primary will cast ballots for one candidate, and the top two will compete head-to-head in November’s general election.

MORE: Huber Heights to pick new mayor

The candidates collectively identified economic development and growth among their top priorities. The Dayton Daily News asked the candidates to fill out a voter guide of questions crafted by the newsroom.

Portions of those responses are part of this story, and the full voter guide is available online at vote.daytondailynews.com. There, the candidates weighed in on issues including the decision to forego the Montgomery County Fairgrounds, the role of social media among elected officials, and residential chickens.

Top priorities

The newspaper asked the candidates to name their top three priorities if elected. Responses generally touched on economic development and growth.

Gore said his top priorities are making sure residents have a good understanding of the city’s financial situation, restoring relationships with the business community to promote economic growth, and strengthening and enforcing the city’s zoning codes and ordinances.

MORE: Huber Heights mayor won’t seek re-election

Griggs said his top priorities are developing effective and efficient city government, strong public schools and continued economic growth for the city.

Wilson’s top three priorities are revitalizing parks, economic development and responsible growth.

Council disagreements

In past months, council members have engaged in disagreements, insults and accusations between members. Council members often refer to themselves as “old council” or “new council” to describe their perspectives. The newspaper asked candidates to identify the major source of the disagreement and how they would lessen fractures.

Gore said he believes fresh ideas and perspectives are good, but experience and knowledge are also needed.

“Based on my observations, the source of the disagreement comes from differing visions for the city,” Gore said. “I think it’s great that we have competing visions, and I think there is room for disagreement.” He suggested leadership is needed to promote compromise.

MORE: Incumbents seek new seats on Huber council

Griggs also said council needs to work to find common ground, but he also said he sees the disagreements as each council member’s passion for what he or she believes.

“People with passion are what we need on the council,” Griggs said. “The question is, ‘what is the best way to show this passion?’ I believe you work to understand the passion.”

Wilson focused on the non-partisanship of the council and said his job as mayor would “not include divining anyone as working for one ‘team’ or another.”

“My job as mayor is to treat all members of council equally and with respect,” he said.

MORE: Dayton Daily News voter guide

Future growth

The candidates generally agreed Huber Heights should seek measured growth.

Gore emphasized taking advantage of the city’s proximity to the Interstate highways “or our neighbors will.”

Griggs said there is “no such thing as too much growth,” but said it should be “controlled to ensure infrastructure keeps up with it.”

Wilson said he believes the city will primarily see increases in residential housing and light industry in the next 10 years.

Huber Heights mayoral candidates

Jeffrey Gore

Website: www.goreformayor.com

Experience: I have experience in residential development as a project manager and marketer. I have been involved in senior levels of management in the financial services industry for the past 8 years. I am well versed in all areas of project management, operations, finance and marketing.

Education: B.S. business administration/management and currently pursuing a M.Ed. with expected graduation in May 2018.

Albert Griggs Jr

Website: www.albertgriggs.com

Experience: Over my civil service career I’ve worked as a senior leader, police officer, steel worker, and sailor. I have experienced government at the city, and federal levels. I worked in both the legislative and executive Branches of the United States government. I also worked with several foreign governments. I’ve led organizations ranging from approximately 35 to 3,500 government civilians, military, and contract personnel.

Education: Masters degrees in public administration and strategic studies.

David Wilson

Website: www.facebook.com/DavidWilson4HHMayor

Experience: I am a 27-year resident of Huber Heights. I served on Huber Heights City Council from 2010 through 2011, Board of Zoning Appeals 2009 and Planning Commission 2012 to present date. Graduate of the Huber Heights Citizen’s Police Academy 2008.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Bowling Green State University of Ohio. CPIM and CSCP professional certifications from APICS the Association for Operations Management.