Mark D. Motz is the Community Relations Manager for the Clermont County Park District. A native Cincinnatian, he has worked for more than 25 years as an award-winning journalist and public relations professional. Away from work, he enjoys photography, theater and spending time with his nine godchildren.

June 19, 2018

A unique ‘I do’


Shawna Gentry and Darcey Roberts pose for pictures before their wedding in the Runaway Chapel at Chilo Lock 34 Park June 16.

CHILO – She isn’t just the proprietor, she’s also a customer.

The former Shawna Gentry became Mrs. Darcey Roberts June 16 at Chilo Lock 34 Park. Shawna happens to own and operate the Runaway Chapel, a Williamsburg-based mobile wedding trailer that opened for business last July.

She’s officiated 23 weddings herself, including seven in the Runaway Chapel, but didn’t anticipate being a bride. Yet when Darcey asked – they’ve known each other since sixth grade and been dating since February – Shawna knew what she wanted.

“My family, the Gentry family, has been using the park at Chilo since the ‘80s for everything from memorials to graduation parties,” she said. “We have a very strong connection to that place.

“It’s just charming there. You have everything from the river, of course, to the walking trails to the shelters. It’s a beautiful place that’s special to our family. It was the perfect place for us to get married.”

The Clermont County Park District plays host to more than 100 wedding a year.

Most of them are at Pattison Lodge and Gazebo in Owensville. Guests book the popular facilities there a year to 18 months in advance. Weekends from April to October often see ceremonies and celebrations Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Many couples select the Hartman Cabin in Jackson Township, too. The historic log home is a lovely, intimate setting for exchanging vows.

But there haven’t been many weddings at Chilo Lock 34 Park since the steamboat Jennie Wade moved off the property several years ago.

“We’re thrilled so many people want to celebrate one of the most important days of their lives at the Park District,” said Mark Motz, community relations manager. “Families make a lot of memories in our parks and there isn’t much more memorable than a wedding.

“We wish Shawna and Darcey every happiness. With a wedding chapel on wheels, they could have gone anywhere to get married. We’re honored they chose Chilo for their special day.”

For information about booking a Park District facility for your wedding, call the main office at 513-732-2799.

Shawna Gentry and Darcey Roberts got married in her Runaway Chapel June 16 at Chilo Lock 34 Park.

The Runaway Chapel.


Posted in: Uncategorized
June 13, 2018

Hello, goodbye


Park District Director Chris Clingman, center, shares a laugh with Jay Neiderhelman, left, and Alan Ausman while Deputy Director Tim Carr cuts Jay’s farewell cake.

Since the first of the year, the Clermont County Park District has hired several new employees ranging from naturalists and maintenance crew members, to administrators and support staff.

New to the team are Community Relations Manager Mark D. Motz, Naturalist Melissa Kichler, Deputy Director Tim Carr, Maintenance Crew Alan Ausman, Visitors Center Attendant Johanna Huddleston and Maintenance Crew Chad Evans.

“We are in the process of increasing our staff so we can better serve Clermont County and all of our guests in the region and beyond,” said Chris Clingman, Director. “This is the first time since I’ve been here that we’ve been able to add people at this rate.

“This is a direct result of the 2016 levy passing. The board identified opportunities for us to pursue and we are growing into the Park District we’d like to be for years to come. We’ve still got work to do, but we’re making good progress.”

Part of that progress included welcoming a new part-time payroll specialist – Katie Galvin – June 12. Ken Brown begins June 25 as the Park District’s Construction Manager.

Yet for every hello, there are some goodbyes.

Part-time maintenance crew member Jay Niederhelman moved into full-time role with Miami Township at the end of May. Chilo Lock 34 Visitors Center Site Manager Jim Setty stepped down June 8.

“Jay had a great combination of diligent work ethic and laid-back personality,” Motz said. “He was unflappable and affable and went out of his way to make sure our parks looked their best.

“Jim’s knowledge of the Ohio River in general and Chilo in particular meant his tours of the Visitors Center had at least one surprising nugget of information you hadn’t heard before. I’m grateful he’s going to stay involved as a volunteer.”

Both Jay and Jim had last-day-on-the-job cake receptions so co-workers could say thank you and wish them well.

But the beat goes on and the Park District is still hiring. If you’re interested in joining our team, please visit and check our career opportunities under the “About Us” tab.

Site Manager Jim Setty, right, gives his final official tour of the Chilo Lock 34 Visitors Center June 8 to Clermont County Commissioner David Painter and three generations of his family.


Posted in: Uncategorized
June 11, 2018

Ready for her close-up


Sasha the Corn Snake is the Clermont County Park District’s newest animal education ambassador.

She may have been a touch shy under all those bright studio lights.

She didn’t say a whole lot compared to her co-stars. In fact, she looked like she could crawl away and hide.

But Sasha the Corn Snake, Clermont County Park District animal education ambassador, made her television debut Saturday, June 9, on Fox 19’s weekend morning news show.

Park District Lead Naturalist Jana Marshall carried the orange reptile with her during a five-minute on-air segment you can watch right here.

Sasha and Marshall shared the stage with Fox 19 host Deborah Linz, as well as Jackie Bray and Sylvester the Great Horned Owl of Raptor, Inc.

They talked about the partnership with Little Miami Conservancy and the Wildlife Wednesday programs sponsored there. The next of which is called “Fossil Frenzy” and is scheduled for June 20.

The Park District has a wide array of nature programming available. Call Marshall at 513-876-9013 to set up an educational opportunity suited to your interests.

Posted in: Uncategorized
June 1, 2018

Breaking new ground


Mrs. Sylvia Shor, fourth from left, helped officials from the Clermont County Park District, Clermont County Commissioners and Union Township Trustees with the May 31 ceremonial groundbreaking on a $1.3 million improvement project at Shor Park.

UNION TWP. – Fear not, taxpayers, you will not be on the hook for a 1950s Cadillac as part of the improvements under way at Shor Park.

That’s not to say a vintage Caddy wouldn’t fit in on the property.

“Way back, my husband had an old Cadillac he used to drive around back in the fields,” said Sylvia Shor, who donated the 56-acre property to the Clermont County Park District in 2003. “He wanted to get across the creek back there and he just gunned it.

“You had to have a pretty big, strong car to get through that creek. That Cadillac did it.”

But again – to be perfectly clear – no taxpayer money will be spent for a hot-rod creek hopper. (No matter how many times your humble correspondent pleads for one.)

Instead, a $1.3 million improvement project designed by Woolpert will feature a picnic shelter, restroom facilities, storage space and an all-access playground. The structure recalls the property’s original use as a horse farm and training ground for the thoroughbreds Mr. Shor raced at old River Downs.

Mrs. Shor very much approved of those expenditures and was on hand to celebrate the ceremonial groundbreaking for the project May 31.

“It’s been in the works for a long time,” she said. “I’m so happy to see all that’s being done here to make this park better and better.”

Clermont County Commissioner David Painter agreed, presenting Mrs. Shor with a proclamation thank her for her dedication to the betterment of the county in general and Park District in particular..

“Thank you on behalf of all those folks who will enjoy this park from this day forward,” he said. “This is about fulfilling a legacy and it’s a great occasion.”

Commissioners President Ed Humphrey joined Painter, Mrs. Shor, members of her family, Union Township Trustee Bob McGee and Park District officials in posing with shovels for the groundbreaking.

“The taxpayers gave us an enormous gift when they passed our levy, and we are happy to report the bid for this project came in well under budget,” said Board of Park Commissioners Chair Bill Stearns. “We want to provide a rich experience for all our park guests.

“Bringing a picnic shelter, restrooms and playground online will attract even more people to a beautiful property. Adding a storage area will make the excellent work of our maintenance team even more efficient. And now we have an opportunity to be on the cutting edge of inclusivity with our all-access playground.”

Posted in: Uncategorized
May 24, 2018

GO Local blazes trail at Sycamore Park


Members of Crossroads East Side converged on Sycamore Park and cleared 1.2 miles of trails in a four-hour volunteer work session.

BATAVIA – When a boss says go, you go. When that boss happens to be the boss, you GO.

Crossroads Community Church’s GO Local program is all about, serving the boss. GO Local put 12,000 people in 15 cities in action, performing hundreds of service projects May 11 to 13.

Several volunteers from Crossroads East Side selected Sycamore Park for its project. A team of seven cleared 1.2 miles of overgrown trails in a four-hour span.

“That’s an amazing chunk of work,” said Park District Deputy Director Tim Carr. “We are grateful to Crossroads for giving us their time and talent. Their work is going to make the park more enjoyable for our guests and make it easier for our staff to get equipment in and out and continue what they started.”

Jim Meyer – who organized the team at Sycamore for Crossroads with John Zinnaker – said it was a bit of a passion project for him. He’s a retired trail manager and long-time Clermont County Park District volunteer.

“I just love to be outdoors and in nature,” he said. “That’s pretty much it. I’d rather be outdoors. I’ve always enjoyed hiking om the trails; Sycamore the Wilson Nature Preserve are already kind of my patch.

“Crossroads’ mantra is ‘Be the church.’ We believe in serving and getting out in the community and doing what we can. This was just a good way to bring those two things together.”

Crossroads brought a motorized brush cutter for Park District maintenance staffer Jay Niederhelman to chop through the more severely blocked parts of the upper loop trail and ridge trails. Volunteers used loppers, shears, hoes and hedge trimmer to clean up the sides and edges of the trail, as well as to clear drainage channels.

Interested in volunteering with the Park District? Call Naturalist Alyssa Rooks at 513-876-9013 to get involved.

Crossroads Eastside volunteers attack the underbrush to clear the trails in Sycamore Park.

A map of the Sycamore Park trail system. Areas in black are where Crossroads East Side volunteers cleared the path.

The “after” picture of newly cleared trails in Sycamore Park thanks to volunteers from Crossroads East Side.

Posted in: Uncategorized
May 21, 2018

Park District serves up local lunch items


Clermont County Park District Naturalist Alyssa Rooks shows off her pesto appetizer before serving to guests at the wild edibles luncheon May 19 at Hartman Cabin.

WILLIAMSBURG – Farm-to-table food is so 2015.

The Clermont County Park District served up park-to-table cuisine at its Wild Edibles Luncheon May 19 at Hartman Cabin.

Guests dined on a four-course meal – appetizer, salad, entrée and dessert – prepared and served by Park District staff. The menu could just as easily have been yard-to-table.

“Each dish we serve features ingredients we found in our parks,” said Naturalist Alyssa Rooks. “But they are things you might find in your own back yard, too.”

A bright pesto created with garlic mustard leaves instead of the traditional basil made the appetizer.

The salad featured wild violets and dandelion greens, augmented by spinach.

The stir-fry entrée included cattail shoots, day lily tubers and wild onion, served over couscous flavored with wild onion.

Banana bread baked with amaranth grain processed into flour ended the meal. Elderberry jam came on the side.

“There’s a lot good food growing wild all over Clermont County,” Rooks said. “Not only is it good, it’s good for you, too. This is a great way to eat healthy and stretch your food budget at the same time.”

Posted in: Uncategorized
May 14, 2018

Little kids hook big fish


Matt Maupin’s father Keith, back center, and East Fork Bass Anglers President Steve Statman, back right, pose with the winners of the 2018 the Clermont County Park District’s annual Matt Maupin Memorial Fishing Derby May 12. Lilly Sunday – only 22 months old – hooked the largest fish of the day, reeling in a 5.97-pound catfish (she only weighs 30 pounds herself). Alex Richey, 12, landed eight fish on the day and took the top prize for total weight with 17.58 pounds.

OWENSVILLE – The littlest angler hooked the biggest fish.

Lilly Sunday, 22 months old, caught a 5.97-pound catfish to the take the prize during the Clermont County Park District’s annual Matt Maupin Memorial Fishing Derby May 12 at Pattison Park.

“It was a great day, exciting to see so many kids out here fishing,” said Steve Statman, President of the East Fork Bass Anglers. “We had 80 kids registered – which is up from last year – and it was amazing how fast they started catching fish.”

In fact, the first fish of the day came in five minutes into the two-hour competition. The first of three albino catfish (and four other tagged fish) came in at the six-minute mark to earn special prizes.

“I don’t remember the last time we had so many tagged fish caught,” Statman said. “I don’t think we’ve ever had more than one albino. That was pretty neat.”

In addition to her lunker, little Lilly – who weighs only 30 pounds herself – landed three other fish to win the 7-and-under age group for total weight with 13 pounds. Alex Richey, 12, took the overall title for most weight, catching eight fish that totaled 17.58 pounds.

Isaiah Adkins took biggest fish (4.32 pounds) in the 8-11 age group, while Connor Sunday won most weight with 9.91 pounds. In the 12-15 age group, Athena Black took the biggest fish at 4.63 pounds.

On the other end of the scale, literally, Mason Dobbratz snagged a .03-pound bluegill for the smallest fish prize.

Jenna Daniel won the 11-and-under casting contest in a playoff, while Elaina Greg won the 12-15 division.

The Park District, Bass Pro Shop and Hamilton Bait Shop provided prizes. The Park District also provided hot dogs, snacks and drinks for their hungry guests.

“This is a great event for the kids,” Statman said. “It gets them outside and out from in front of a screen. Some of the younger ones, if it’s their first time, they might be a leery of baiting a hook or holding a fish they’ve caught, but you can see by the end of the day they are having a lot of fun.

“A lot of outdoor activities are dying out, but we want to keep this one going. Once you get the kids out here and put a pole in their hands, there’s almost an innate appreciation of nature that kicks in for them.

“You don’t have to be athletic to fish. You don’t need any special skills or any super-expensive equipment. You just need to be able to go outside and enjoy the water.”

Posted in: Uncategorized
May 8, 2018

Press Release – Matt Maupin Fishing Derby









Matt Maupin Memorial Fishing Derby for Kids


CONTACT: Mark D. Motz, Community Relations Manager, 513-309-9024

OWENSVILLE – The Clermont County Park District hopes to hook some aspiring young anglers for its annual Matt Maupin Memorial Fishing Derby.

The Park District has stocked the pond at Pattison Park, partnered with the East Fork Bass Anglers and gotten sponsorship from Bass Pro Shops and Hamilton Bait in preparation for the May 12 event.

“It’s an excellent family event, an excellent community event,” said Steve Statman, President of the East Fork Bass Anglers. “It’s always fun to see the kids on the water. Some of the little ones, it’s the first time they’ve held a fishing rod. Some of the older ones have been coming for years. We just want it to be fun for everybody.”

“This is a great day for us,” said Mark D. Motz, Park District Community Relations Manager. “It will be nice to see kids and families in the park having fun fishing, of course, but we also get to celebrate the memory of Matt Maupin, who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.”

Keith Maupin, Matt’s father and executive director of the Yellow Ribbon Support Center, said his late son took up fishing at about age 13. Keith enjoys remembering Matt’s days as a fisherman.

“You had to pry the rod out of Matt’s hand,” Keith said. “He knew the next bite could be a five pounder. He loved to fish. Loved it. This is a great partnership for us, a great fit.”

–          WHO: Hosts – Clermont County Park District, East Fork Bass Anglers
Sponsors – Bass Pro Shops, Hamilton Bait

–          WHAT: Matt Maupin Memorial Fishing Derby for Kids.
(Ages 15 and younger)

–          WHEN: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, May 12.
(registration begins at 10 a.m.)

–          WHERE: Pattison Park Lakeside, 2228 U.S. Highway 50, Batavia, Ohio 45103

–          PRICE: Free

–          WHAT ELSE: Three age groups – 7 and younger, 8 to 11 and 12 to 15 – with prizes for biggest fish, smallest fish and most weight in each category.
Casting contest with prizes for two age groups – 11 and younger, 12 to 15.
Food, drinks and door-prize raffle.

The Clermont County Park District operates six parks, three nature preserves and several greenspaces encompassing nearly 800 acres around the county. Founded in 1970, the Park District’s mission is “to acquire, plan, develop, program and maintain park property in the county for residents and nonresidents alike” and “secure the preservation of open space and places of scenic or historic value.”

Matt Maupin was a Gen Este High School graduate and served in the United States Army. He was captured in Iraq in 2004 and went missing in action for four years before fellow soldiers eventually found his remains and returned him home in 2008. The Yellow Ribbon Support Center honors his memory and seeks addresses of currently deployed military to send care packages to soldiers in the field. The Support Center also offers scholarships to area high school seniors.

The East Fork Bass Anglers enjoy the sport of bass fishing and competing in a friendly, open environment with about 12 tournaments a year. The small club is active in enhancing the public knowledge of the sport by sharing experience, educating youth, practicing catch-and-release and demonstrating innovative environmental and conservation methods.

Fishing Derby 2018

Posted in: Uncategorized
May 7, 2018

Park District raised gardens grow


Raised pollinator and herb beds are planted and growing at Chilo Lock 34 Park, while the vegetable bed is waiting for baby bunnies to clear out before planting.

CHILO – The actress Audrey Hepburn once said, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”

The Clermont County Park District believes in a lot of tomorrows and has the gardens to prove it.

Look around this National Wildflower Week and see new flowers and landscaping everywhere from Pattison Lodge to the Harman Log Cabin. Spring wildflowers are blooming in all the Park District properties.

But at Chilo Lock 34 Park, one gardening project is more than mere beautification. It’s a way to promote native plants, support pollinators and – eventually – grow some local food.

Naturalist Melissa Kichler designed a trio of raised beds at Chilo, each with a theme – vegetables, native pollinators and native herbs.

“The planting style somewhat mimics early settlers’ plantings,” she said. “Raised beds were used so fertile soil might be added and easily amended in a contained area near a kitchen. Raised beds also accommodated gardeners tending to weeds and harvest.

“Early gardens were composed of staples used for cooking. Early Ohioans relied upon their own herbs as a source of medicine and as aromatics to freshen the home.”

Two of the beds have been planted, but the third hosts an animal family at the moment.

The veggie bed is on hold until the nest of baby bunnies moves out,” Kichler said. “But the herb and pollinator beds will display a simple symmetry with a tall variety alone in the center and complementary varieties on either side.

In the pollinator bed, New England asters will be in the center and achieve the greatest height. They will be flanked by milkweed on one end of the bed, with zinnia and salvia serving to complement the milkweed on the other.

Sunflowers are the centerpiece of the herb bed, with coneflower and bee balm on either end.

Contents of the vegetable bed are to be determined, but Kichler is leaning toward corn, pole beans or squash in the center, a root vegetable like carrot, parsnip or radish on one end and cucumber, onion or chive on the other.

The herb bed and pollinator bed plants came from Clermont Soil and Water, supporting a local 4H fundraiser.

Posted in: Uncategorized
May 4, 2018

Park District hiring


Join the Park District team as a part-time or seasonal groundskeeper and help keep our properties beautiful.

As the Clermont County Park District continues to grow, it needs some new people to join the team.

The Park District has part-time and seasonal groundskeeper positions open.

Interested applicants may visit the Clermont County Auditor’s site here. Click on the “by location” tab and select “Park District” to view the job descriptions and apply.

“This is all part of the plan,” said Park District Community Relations Director Mark Motz. “We want our facilities to be in the best possible shape for people to enjoy.

“We have an amazing community gift in our parks; it’s our responsibility to the taxpayers – and all our visitors – to give them a first-class experience. Making sure the parks are clean, well-kept and safe is a big part of that.”

Posted in: Uncategorized