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.

August 12, 2019

River life celebrated during Steamboat Days


Eric Rotsinger portrays Mark Twain during the Clermont County Park District’s second annual Steamboat Days celebration Aug. 10.

CHILO – A 9-year-old girl in a black ball cap approached quietly, but quickly started talking books with the white-haired, white-suited man before her.

Apropos considering the man – living historian Eric Rotsinger – portrays one of the most celebrated authors in American letters, Mark Twain.

Twain served as the featured entertainment for the Clermont County Park District’s second annual Steamboat Days celebration at Chilo Lock 34 Park Aug. 10. Guests of all ages packed the picnic shelter for more than an hour to hear him speak.

Several – like the girl – stuck around longer to pose for pictures and continue chatting.

Twain discussed his life on the river, including tales of traveling the Ohio and how Cincinnati once produced and shipped more barrels of whiskey than the salt pork which earned the town its Porkopolis nickname.

“I myself will take a little nip of whiskey from time to time,” he said. “Mostly for snake bites.”

Twain mentioned travelers of his generation often needed nine months to go down river from Pittsburgh to the Mississippi, south to New Orleans and back. He also said working on and near the river equaled an ideal democracy.

“Nobody cared where you were from, what color you were or how much money you had,” he said. “It was hard work and all people cared about is whether or not you pulled your own weight.”

Twain served up some of his classic one liners – “When I was a younger man, I could remember everything, whether it happened or not” – along with observations of pompous politicians out of touch with the people they served.

“And the guy stood up there on the floor of the Senate and he says, ‘Ohio River? There ain’t no such thing. The darn thing’s dry six months of the year and froze the other six.’ Well, that’s not exactly right, is it? And that doesn’t mean it ain’t a river.”

Comments like the senator’s led Twain to a life in satire.

“We didn’t have much growing up,” he said. “Just newspapers and books. I leaned toward books and satire to make fun of stupid people, make fun of stupid institutions, make fun of and expose … the frailties of humans in a way they could read it and not really get it for a while.”

While Twain entertained outside, the legendary River Men – some of the Park District’s most veteran volunteers – shared their expertise on steamboats and river lore inside. (And manned the grill to cook up some jumbo hot dogs for the guests.)

“It was a beautiful day, a great crowd and a lot of fun, said Mark D. Motz, community relations manager for the Park District. “We are lucky to be able to tell the history of the river right on the river. None of the other museums dealing with river history have our proximity to the water itself. Our location brings that history to life in a tangible way.”

Guests packed the picnic shelter at Chilo Lock 34 Park Aug. 10 to hear living historian Eric Rotsinger as Mark Twain.     

Living historian Eric Rotsinger portrayed Mark Twain at Chilo Lock 34 Park Aug. 10, focusing much of his lecture on the Ohio River.

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August 5, 2019

Twain returns to highlight Steamboat Days


 One of history’s most celebrated authors returns to the Clermont County Park District Aug. 10.

Living historian Eric Rotsinger portrays Samuel Clemens – better known as Mark Twain – as the featured entertainment during the Park District’s second annual Steamboat Days celebration from noon to 3 p.m. at Chilo Lock 34 Park.

Rotsinger – who has played Twain for nearly two decades – will be on site beginning at 12:30 and plans to commence his talk at 1 p.m.

“We are so glad to have him back,” said Mark D. Motz, community relations manager for the Park District. “His visit last year was one of the highlights of our entire year. People really enjoyed his presentation.

“From the white suit to the wild hair, from the vocal inflection to the depth and breadth of his storytelling – complete with wonderful tangents and asides – he brings the era of steamboats alive in a unique way.”

Rotsinger won’t be the only star on hand. The legendary River Men – some of the Park District’s most veteran volunteers – will share their expertise on steamboats and river lore as well.

Guests may tour the Lock 34 river museum in the visitors center, where they can learn about the natural and cultural history of the Ohio River. Among the exhibits on display are a trio of steamboat models and an interactive steamboat whistle display.

“We are lucky to be able to tell the history of the river right on the river,” Motz said. “None of the other museums dealing with river history have our proximity to the water itself. Our location brings that history to life in a tangible way.”

In addition to the entertainment and museum, the Park District offers complimentary hot dogs and lemonade for guests. This is a family friendly and free afternoon.

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July 25, 2019

Park District giving $100K in grants


OWENSVILLE – For the third year in a row, the Clermont County Park District will award grants to other parks across the county.

The Park District will disburse up to $100,000 through the 2019 Community Parks Improvement Grant Program. Each grant application can request up to $20,000. Eligible entities include townships, villages, cities and park districts who own and maintain park space in Clermont County.

The funding – authorized by the Board of Park Commissioners – is part of the Park District’s 2016 operating levy and continues its commitment to elevate park experiences for every resident of the county.

Application packets are available on the Park District website (at the bottom of this page). Deadline for applications is 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 1.

The Park District will host a pair of informational meetings Tuesday, Aug. 13, at the Pattison Lodge (2228 US Highway 50, Batavia, Ohio 45103) to assist applicants with the process. One is scheduled for 1 p.m., the other for 6:30 p.m.; each should last about an hour.

Applicants should RSVP for which meeting they will attend by writing or calling 513-732-2977.

Community Grant cover let signed 07 23 19

Clermont Grant Award Application 19 final

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July 16, 2019

Shor dedication delightful


Members of the Shor family and local officials cut the ribbon to officially dedicate the facilities at Shor Park July 16.

UNION TWP. – A few dozen children ran and jumped. They giggled and climbed, teetered and tottered, swung back and forth. Some dodged their parents, some clung close.

Few paid any attention whatsoever to the goings on nearby.

Which suited Sylvia Shor just fine.

“You’ve built a palace,” she said. “An absolute palace. It’s more than I ever could have imagined. I love it. But look out there. They like it and that’s what matters.”

Mrs. Shor marveled at the finished product during a July 16 ceremony to dedicate the new facilities at Shor Park, the Clermont County Park District property she donated in memory of her late husband, S. David Shor.

“We are pleased to officially open these facilities,” said Chris Clingman, Park District Director. “It’s a good feeling to see something go from an idea to a drawing, from a hole in the ground to a completed project.

Sylvia Shor, left, tours the new facilities dedicated July 16 at Shor Park. She donated the land in memory of her late husband, S. David Shor.

“Based on the early usage, the improvements at Shor Park are going to be an extremely popular addition to the Park District and a wonderful asset to the residents of Union Township and Clermont County.”

More than 80 guests – not counting the families enjoying the playground – attended the ceremony.

They heard from Clingman and Park Board of Commissioners Chairman Bill Stearns.

“The $1.4 million project here includes two picnic shelters, restroom facilities, storage areas for our maintenance team, a wind turbine to help power the facility and – maybe what I’m most proud of – the county’s first certified inclusive playground,” Stearns said.

“I am equally happy to tell you we had people literally climbing the fence to get into playground before we even laid sod around the park. Comments have been unanimously positive about how valuable this park is and will be to the community.”

Other speakers included Union Township Trustee John McGraw, Clermont County Commissioner David Painter and State Senator Joe Uecker. State Representative John Becker – along with fellow rep Doug Green – presented the Park District with a congratulatory resolution from the statehouse in Columbus.

“This was and is a beautiful property,” Mrs. Shor said. “We wanted to have it as a public property for everyone to enjoy. We need to preserve and protect land like this and I’m glad we could make this into a county park all the people could use. It’s a place for everybody.”

Clermont County Park District Director Chris Clingman welcomes guests to the dedication ceremony at Shor Park July 16.

Clermont County Park District Director Chris Clingman accepts a congratulatory resolution from State Representatives John Becker and Doug Green.

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July 2, 2019

Park District to dedicate Shor shelters


The main shelter at Shor Park includes restroom and storage facilities.

UNION TWP. – They’ve been unofficially open – and receiving rave reviews from guests – for several weeks. Now the Clermont County Park District will make it official with a dedication ceremony for the completed renovations at Shor Park.

–        WHO: The Clermont County Park District

–        WHO ELSE – Mrs. Sylvia Shor, Board of Park Commissioners, Union Township Trustees, Clermont County Commissioners and other local officials

–        WHAT: Dedication ceremony for new shelters and playground at Shor Park

–        WHEN: 11 a.m. Tuesday, July 16, 2019

–        WHERE: Shor Park, 4569 Tealtown Road, Milford , Ohio 45150

–        WHAT ELSE: Free and open to the public

“We are pleased to officially open these facilities,” said Chris Clingman, Park District Director. “It’s a good feeling to see something go from an idea to a drawing, from a hole in the ground to a completed project.

“Based on the early usage, the improvements at Shor Park are going to be an extremely popular addition to the Park District and a wonderful asset to the residents of Union Township and Clermont County.”

Named in honor of her late husband S. David Shor, Sylvia Shor donated the 56-acre park to the Park District in 2003. The latest improvements resulted in two new picnic shelters, a permanent restroom facility and storage area for Park District equipment. Also part of the project, a wind turbine to help power the new facilities, as well as an inclusive playground designed for users of all abilities.

The Park District – in partnership with the Clermont Soil and Water Conservation District – recently received an Ohio 319 Grant from the Environmental Protection Agency and will be restoring streams on the property as well.

Shor Park added a an inclusive playground to its facilities.

A second picnic shelter at Shor Park adds shade and seating near the playground area.

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June 7, 2019

Sycamore, Pattison projects under way


Sycamore #2 shelter

BATAVIA – Newly erected temporary fencing at Sycamore and Pattison parks signaled the start of two major renovations in the Clermont County Park District.

At Sycamore Park, two new picnic shelters and a restroom facility will be part of the first phase of construction. A new shelter and restroom will go in at Pattison. Both parks will include new walking paths as well.

The Board of Park Commissioners approved the bid from Endeavor Construction during its June 6 meeting. The fencing went up the next day in preparation for the $1.48 million project.

The Endeavor bid was the lowest of five received, coming in about $11,000 under engineer estimates.

Demolition of the old Sycamore #2 shelter begins Monday, June 10.

“The scope of this project is impressive,” said Chris Clingman, Park District Director. “We are making big investments in the facilities at Sycamore and Pattison that will pay dividends to Clermont County for generations.

“There will be some inconvenience to our guests – and we’re sorry about that – but we hope to keep those to a minimum and allow people to continue enjoying the tremendous natural resources our parks have to offer.”

Work at Sycamore Park will be limited to the north end of the property near the far parking lot and tennis courts. The existing restroom will remain open until its replacement is complete.

Sycamore construction will not affect canoe and kayak access to the East Fork of the Little Miami River, the Sycamore #1 shelter, Sycamore Woods shelter and adjacent playground or trail access to Wilson Nature Preserve.

Pattison Park restroom

Demolition of the picnic shelter, restroom and playground at Pattison begins the week of June 10. While those areas of the park will be closed, access to the pond and surrounding walking trails will be open. Recycling dumpsters move to the other end of the parking lot to remain accessible to the public.

Pattison lodge side remains open; weddings and other events in the lodge will be unaffected.

“This is a promise we made during the levy campaign in 2016,” Clingman said. “We are working hard to improve aging facilities so we can best serve the park visitors’ needs and exceed their expectations.”

The Sycamore and Pattison projects ramp up as renovations at Shor Park in Union Township wind down. There hasn’t been an official dedication ceremony yet, but the new restrooms, picnic shelters and the county’s first all-inclusive playground are open and earning rave reviews from early users.

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May 30, 2019

Visitor Center extends hours


The Chilo water tower at the start of refurbishing this spring.

CHILO – Keeping a secret can be tough. The Clermont County Park District won’t even try.

With new staff in place, the Chilo Lock 34 Park Visitor Center expands its hours for the summer season.

Effective immediately, the museum will be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday for the summer. The new schedule gives visitors an extra day – and an extra hour each day – to enjoy one of the best facilities on the Ohio River.

“We hear it all the time from our guests,” said Ben Morrill, site manager. “’I’ve been in the park before, but never in the building. We came by, but it wasn’t open.’ Once they’ve been in, though, they like what they see and often become repeat visitors.

“We’ve heard it called the best-kept secret in the county. Well, we’re trying to make sure it’s not a secret any more. We want to give people every opportunity to experience the Ohio River from this unique setting and perspective.”

“One of our goals is to get as many people as possible in Clermont County to be Park District guests,” said Mark D. Motz, community relations manager. “Not just guests, but active consumers.

“A trip to the visitor center gives users plenty to consume. It has benefit of the typically incredible natural resources of our parks across the width and breadth of the county. But it adds elements of natural and social history to help tell the story of the county and the country via the Ohio River.

“We hope extending the hours of operation in the museum will attract more of what I call the accidental tourists – people who happen to see the sign out on (U.S. Highway) 52 – will have a chance to see the facility.

“At the same time, we’re working to make the Chilo experience unique and worthwhile for first timers and repeat visitors alike. Having the doors open longer and more frequently gives us a chance to do that.”

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May 28, 2019

Park District welcomes new staffers


Denise Franer

CHILO – Meet he newest members of the Clermont County Park District team.

Denise Franer and Ethan Rudd joined the staff May 24.

Franer will serve as a part-time visitors center attendant at Chilo Lock 34 Park. Rudd signed on as a seasonal parks assistant; he will split time between the visitors center, naturalist department and maintenance crew.

“We’re glad to have Denise and Ethan aboard,” said Mark D. Motz, community relations manager. “Denise comes to us with a wealth of experience in Clermont County after many years with the health district.

“Ethan has experience in education that will make him an asset in the museum at Chilo and in the field helping with nature programs, day camps and more.”

Ethan Rudd

Both of the new hires look forward to sharing the story of the Park District with the public.

“To me, there is something so special about (Chilo Lock 34) Park because there’s such a variety of environments,” Franer said. “You have open areas, trails, wetlands, the river. Just a lot to see. I’ve always been very fond of this part of the county; it’s a beautiful part of Clermont County.”

To say nothing of the historical element.

“I’m very taken with the whole lock and dam system,” she said. “There are a lot of parts of living and working on the river that I hadn’t even considered. Just helping people see how much there is to learn down here will be a great experience.”

Rudd has a personal connection to Chilo Lock 34.

“My grandpa used to work on barges on the river and my mom grew up around Chilo,” he said. “It’s sort of a homecoming for me.

“People tend to take the environment around them for granted. They think they have to go out to the Rockies or west of there to see really great things in nature, but we have incredible things right at our feet here. I want people to see them and appreciate them.”

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May 16, 2019

Fishing Derby hooks young anglers


Anglers in action during the annual Matt Maupin Memorial Fishing Derby For Kids May 11.

OWENSVILLE – Not quite a sweep, but the Simpson family took two of the top three spots in the annual Matt Maupin Memorial Fishing Derby For Kids.

The Clermont County Park District hosted the Derby May 11 at Pattison Park in partnership with the East Fork Bass Anglers. About 60 children participated in the free event.

In the 7-and-under age group, Christian Simpson had the most weight with 12.99 pounds on four fish. Isaac Simpson had the largest fish at 5.35 pounds and Bryce Turner landed the smallest at .2 pounds.

For ages 8 to 10, Avery Simpson hooked six fish for a combined 17.74 pounds. Jonah Fox had the big fish at 5.26 pounds and Nora Smith pulled in the smallest at .14 pounds.

The first fish of the day weighed in at about .9 pounds.

Brianna Stone led the 12 to 15 age group with four fish totaling 10.09 pounds. Alex Richey had the biggest fish at 5.39 pounds and Dakota Henry took the smallest at .14 pounds.

Nolan Rogers won the casting contest for ages 12 to 15, while Caroline Smith and Hannah Scareberry tied for first in the 11-and-under age group.

The Derby honors the memory of Matt Maupin, who was killed in military action in Iraq. The Glen Este High School graduate was an avid fisherman.

In addition to prizes for each of the categories, kids received goody bags and a grilled hot dog lunch during the derby.

“We enjoy this event every year,” said Mark D. Motz, Park District community relations manager. “The partnership with the Bass Anglers helps promote fishing – an activity one can enjoy for a lifetime – with youngsters, which in turn gets them outdoors and active.

“It’s nice to see kids putting their lines in the water with their siblings, parents and grandparents. Our parks are a place where families can come to make memories and we’re glad to be part of the fabric of our community.”

The pond at Pattison Park was filled with young fishermen May 11..

Families set up at Pattison Park during the annual fishing derby.

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May 6, 2019

Park District continues improvement plan

Sycamore #2 being replaced

Sycamore Shelter #2 will be replaced as part of an extensive improvement project by the Clermont County Park District.

BATAVIA – The Clermont County Park District announces the next phase in its ongoing plan to refurbish and improve its properties around the county.

The Park District is accepting bids this month on a nearly $1.5 million dual project to build new shelters and restrooms at both Sycamore Park in Batavia and Pattison Park near Owensville.

“This is an ambitious project, but one we think will benefit Clermont County and our guests for generations,” said Chris Clingman director. “We have planned this project to make sure residents will have access to their parks this summer and fall, even while construction is happening.”

Work at Sycamore will be in the northern end of the park and will include new restrooms, replacing the Sycamore # 2 shelter with two new shelters and refurbishing the tennis courts.

“Sycamore was the first park in our system,” Clingman said. “It is our most central and busiest park. It’s also the park most in need of updated facilities. We look forward to enhancing Sycamore’s role as a destination throughout the county.”

Construction at Pattison will be on the lake side of the park – aka the south side of U.S. 50 – leaving the trails on the north side open to guests. Rentals at the Pattison lodge and gazebo – one of the county’s most popular wedding spots – will not be affected.

“During a master planning process in 2015 we identified needed improvements and replacements of facilities,” Clingman said. “When voters passed a park levy in 2016, we put together a plan to start upgrades. This is the next step in that process.”

The Sycamore and Pattison improvements follow the new shelters, restrooms, wind turbine and inclusive playground facilities at Shor Park in Union Township, which are nearing completion.

In addition, the historic water tower at Chilo Lock 34 Park is undergoing repair and repainting that should be completed by the end of May.

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