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.

November 27, 2019

Clermont organizations collaborate to launch new county brand


BATAVIA – Connect Clermont, the Clermont County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Clermont County Park District and the Clermont Chamber of Commerce joined forces to respond to a community-identified need for a “clear and recognizable brand for Clermont County.”

This call to action sprang from the Agenda for the Future of Clermont County, a community vision and strategic plan created in 2015. The brand reveal takes place at 9 a.m. Dec. 6 at RJ Cinema Eastgate (4450 Eastgate S. Dr. Cincinnati, OH 45245).

The organizations teamed up to research and identify the qualities that make Clermont County uniquely suited for residents, businesses and visitors. This reveal introduces the resulting attributes, messaging and logo for the county brand, as well as each of their coordinated individual organizations.

Clermont County representatives partnered with Intrinzic Brand Collaborative to conduct this research and develop the brand. Intrinzic, based in Newport, Ky., is a fully integrated marketing agency dedicated to elevating and building stronger brands through alignment of strategy and passion.

“This new brand is not about changing who we are. It is about capturing those things that truly unify us,” said Bob Pautke, Chairman of the Board of Directors for Connect Clermont. “We are excited for residents, business leaders and visitors to discover the unique attributes that define our culture in Clermont County.”

A coffee reception will begin at 8:30 a.m. prior to the reveal. The reveal presentation will begin promptly at 9 a.m. Representatives from each organization will be available for questions and interviews upon request following the presentation. Members of the media and community are invited to attend.

For media inquiries, contact Bob Pautke at 513-608-6265 or


About Connect Clermont- Connect Clermont exists to harness the collective power of individuals and organizations to continually improve life in Clermont County. Connect Clermont is the Community Advocate.

About the Clermont County Convention and Visitors Bureau- The Clermont County Convention and Visitors Bureau is a professional destination marketing and sales organization, whose mission is to strengthen the community by generating economic growth and vitality through tourism, overnight stays and encouraging visitor spending in the local tourism economy.

About the Clermont County Park District- To acquire, plan, develop, program and maintain park property in the county for residents and nonresidents alike. To secure the preservation of open space and places of scenic or historic value.

About the Clermont Chamber of Commerce– The Clermont Chamber is a voluntary association of businesses, professionals and individuals working together to enhance the Clermont Community. Our goal is to make Clermont County a desirable place to live and work. 

Posted in: Uncategorized
November 26, 2019

Helping make holidays more green


BATAVIA – Many traditionalists hope for a white Christmas, but several Clermont County agencies will join forces to make the holidays more green.

The Clermont County Park District, Adams-Clermont Solid Waste District and Clermont Soil and Water Conservation District will partner with Cohen Recycling to provide bins to collect and recycle old holiday lights.

Starting Dec. 1 and running through Jan. 20, 2020, Clermont County residents and visitors can recycle used holiday lights at several locations around the county, including:

  • Chilo Lock 34 Park Visitors Center: 521 County Park Road, Chilo, Ohio 45112
  • Hartman Log Cabin Office: 5260 Aber Road, Williamsburg, Ohio 45176
  • Clermont Water Resources Lobby: 4400 Haskell Lane, Batavia, Ohio 45103
  • Clermont Soil and Water Conservation District: 1000 Locust St., Owensville, Ohio 45160

“We’ve all had that strand of lights when you’re putting up your tree that is too tangled to mess with,” said Mark D. Motz, Park District community relations manager. “Or the ones with too many lights burned out by the end of the season to make them worth keeping for next year.

“This program gives a good, green place to get rid of an item a lot of people probably didn’t even know was recyclable. We’re glad to partner with Solid Waste, Soil & Water and Cohen on this project and do a little bit to help the environment and preserve our natural resources.”

Items to be recycled include indoor and outdoor light strands, icicle lights and rope lights. Please do not bring individual bulbs, pre-lit trees, wreaths or other decorations.

For more information on recycling holiday lights, please contact Hannah Lubbers of the Solid Waste District at or visit

Posted in: Uncategorized
November 19, 2019

International scientists check Chilo cicadas


CHILO – Cicadas generally make their presence known – loudly – in the spring and summer.

Yet scientists visited Chilo Lock 34 Park in early November searching for answers to a long-standing question: How do the insects know when their 13- or 17-year dormant period is over so they should start tunneling to the surface?

Cicada expert Dr. Gene Kritsky from Cincinnati’s Mount St. Joseph University and Dr. Teiji Sota from Kyoto University in Japan brought a team of scientists to dig for nymphs – the immature cicadas burrowed near tree roots – that may offer a clue.

“We are going track the growth pattern of the nymphs,” Sota said. “We want know the mechanism of how they count the number years.

“Our hypothesis is that they use their body weight as a cue for the timing of their metamorphosis.”

The scientists found, photographed and weighed dozens of nymphs from several different broods on the park grounds. They will return to Chilo – and several other sites in the region – each of the next few autumns to compare the size and weight of the nymphs over time.

Brood X – a 17-year cicada – is expected to make its next appearance in 2021.

“Cicadas are universal and there’s only a few of us in the world who love cicadas as much as Teiji and I do,” Kritsky said. “We’re fortunate that his lab has got this interest in this great hypothesis to help us zero in on this question that we’ve been asking for centuries.”

Why Chilo? Kritsky – who has authored several books on cicadas and serves as the Dean of Behavioral and Natural Sciences at The Mount – has a history of cicada research at the park dating back to the early part of this century.

“It’s exciting to have these internationally known experts on our site,” said Park District Community Relations Manager Mark D. Motz. “Most of us might think about cicadas once or twice every couple of decades when they appear.

“Dr. Kritsky – on the other hand – has made a career of them. What he, Dr. Sota and their team find in Chilo over the next couple of years may have ramifications across the globe.

“It’s pretty cool to be on the front line of that kind of research, even in a small capacity. We’re happy we could be of service to the scientific community.”

Posted in: Uncategorized
November 17, 2019

Tribes of the Ohio River


Several Native American tribes built mounds in the Ohio Valley region.

Chilo Lock 34 Site Manager

Descended from settlers of the first Ice Age, diverse tribes of Native Americans settled the Ohio River Valley and created their own unique cultures and traditions.

For thousands of years these tribes lived along the Ohio and Little Miami rivers, which served as a source of food, water and other vital resources.

Arriving in what would become southwestern Ohio around 10,000 B.C. the Paleoindians were the first people to settle the region. They established hunter-gatherer communities near the Little Miami.

The wooded area provided plants and berries as a food sources. They hunted waterfowl and other animals using weapons fashioned from stones found along the streambed. Over the next 4,000 years, climate and environmental changes in the area impacted local tribes.

A selection of Fort Ancient culture tools, including awls, discoidals, pipes and projectile points on display in a museum in Maysville, Kentucky . Some of the articles are from the Fox Fields site.

By 6000 B.C. Paleoindian Culture developed into what is known as the Archaic Culture.

Much like the Paleoindians, the Archaic Culture thrived in the region as a nomadic hunter-gatherer society. However – between 1,500 and 500 B.C. – the culture began developing farming practices and cultivating local seeds, squash, and gourds.

Called the Woodland Culture, this era of innovation also saw the emergence of pottery and the building of earthen mounds. These mounds still exist throughout southwest Ohio from Yellow Springs to just outside Neville, near the Clermont County Park District’s Chilo Lock 34 Park.

The Adena and Hopewell Indians were among the first tribes to practice mound building, a tradition that was later carried on by the Fort Ancient Culture between 1000 and 1650 A.D.

Farming played an important role for the Fort Ancient people. They harvested corn, squash and beans while hunting wild animals for meat. They used other parts of the animals to make tools. Their resourcefulness allowed them to transform turtle shells into bowls, antlers into arrowheads and mussel shells into knives and spoons.

By the time European explorers first encountered the Ohio Valley in the 1700s, the Fort Ancient culture no longer inhabited the region. The Miami tribe moved south from the Great Lakes and settled the area around 1700. The Shawnee joined the Miami as European settlers pushed westward.

Following the American victory in the Revolutionary War, settlers continued westward, resulting in several clashes along the frontier. Tribes in Ohio defended their land against the ever-increasing settlers.

Even though the Europeans pushed tribes westward, the Native American legacy and impact remain in southwest Ohio.

Want to learn more? Join Park District naturalist Robin Green from 10 a.m. to noon Nov. 20 or 21 at Sycamore Park in Batavia for a Native American Life program.

Posted in: Uncategorized
October 23, 2019

More than $100,000 in grant money awarded


The Clermont County Park District recently announced the recipients of its 2019 Community Parks Improvement Grant Program.

BATAVIA – The Clermont County Park District recently awarded more than $100,000 in grant money to local parks.

The Park District received 14 applications requesting $161,747.91 in funding. The grant committee selected 10 projects valued at $103,814.90. They emphasized safety with repairs to and replacements for existing facilities.

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.

“We’re helping make sure all the citizens in the county are better served by their local parks,” said Chris Clingman, Park District Director. “If we can help improve the safety in these facilities, people will be more inclined to use them.”

Grant recipients include:

  • The City of Loveland ($12,052) – McCoy Park – playground equipment, basketball goals and courtside benches.
  • Franklin Township ($10,000) – Franklin Township Community Park – playground equipment, park benches, picnic tables and garbage cans.
  • Miami Township ($20,000) – Riverview Park – install drainage, replace play structure for ages 2 to 5, play structure for ages 5 to 12.
  • Pierce Township ($13,593) – Pierce Township Park – repair, resurface and restripe tennis and basketball courts.
  • Village of Bethel ($20,000) – Burke Park – replace play structure for ages 2 to 5.
  • Village of Moscow ($1,656) – Broadway and 5th Street Playground Park – playground swings and climber.
  • Village of Neville ($4,435.40) – Neville Riverview Park – resurfacing road to parking lot and walking path.
  • Village of New Richmond ($7,275.54) – Union Square Park – roof replacement on park shelter.
  • Village of Williamsburg ($9,102.96) – Community Park – realignment of Community Park entrance to enhance traffic safety.
  • Washington Township ($5,700) – Washington Township Park – repair cracks, seal and sealcoat walking trail around park.

“Our grants don’t necessarily cover everything,” Clingman said. “Projects like Bethel’s and Miami Township’s go well into the six-figure range. But we can fully fund projects like Washington Township, Neville and Williamsburg.

“We are proud and grateful to have this opportunity to assist these parks and further intertwine ourselves into the fabric of Clermont County.”

The 2019 Community Parks Improvement Grant Program marks the third year in a row for grants to parks across the county. The Park District funded 13 projects with its 2017 grants and seven more in the 2018 grant year, disbursing nearly $180,000 over the two years.

Posted in: Uncategorized
October 23, 2019

Park District assists local improvement projects


The Clermont County Park District helped fund the new restroom facilities at Stagge-Marr Community Park in Goshen.

GOSHEN – Beauty comes in many forms. Not all of them glamourous.

For example, take the restrooms at the Goshen Park District’s Stagge-Marr Community Park.

The Clermont County Park District Community Parks Improvement Grant Program helped facilitate the new facilities.

The grant for $15,100 helped construct a new building with a men’s and women’s bathroom – each with a baby-changing stations – a dual drinking fountain and storage space.

In the works since 2017, the restrooms officially opened in during the Goshen Bicentennial celebration in July.

“Many of the local parks don’t have the funding they need,” said Park District Director Chris Clingman. “They rely on donations and volunteers. This is our chance to help.

Batavia Township celebrated the ribbon cutting for its new dog park in May, made possible with help from the Clermont County Park District.

“These grants go a long way in places where parks don’t have many resources. And that goes a long way to enhancing the quality of the parks and giving people more reasons to get out and enjoy them.”

The Goshen restroom project was the last of 13 projects from the 2017 grant cycle to wrap. The Park District earmarked $104,702.02 that year and disbursed $84,702.02. (Jackson Township returned its $20,000 grant because it could not meet the additional requirements from Ohio EPA for its restroom project.)

The Park District funded seven projects with $94,904.08 for the 2018 grant year; all of them are now completed. Projects included money for:

  • Batavia Township’s dog park;
  • Park benches and resurfacing basketball and tennis courts at Loveland’s McCoy Park;
  • A retaining wall for the City of Milford’s section of the Little Miami Bike Trail;
  • Miami Township’s fishing platform at Miami Meadows Park;
  • Keyless entry door locks for Monroe Township’s Fair Oaks Park;
  • Repairs to Vietnam Memorial pavers at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Union Township;
  • New gazebo at Union Square Park in New Richmond.

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.

“This grant program is a big part of who we are as a Park District,” Clingman said. “It helps intertwine us into the fabric of the county. We want to make sure people have the best possible experience when they visit a park in Clermont County, whether it’s one we manage or not.”

Posted in: Uncategorized
October 21, 2019

Shor Park gets stream restoration grant


The Clermont County Park District partnered with the Clermont Soil & Water Conservation District to get a grant from the Ohio EPA to restore a stream, create three pocket wetlands and clear 11 acres of invasive species from Shor Park.

MILFORD – The Clermont County Park District and Clermont Soil & Water Conservation District received a $135,080 grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to restore a stream and construct three small wetlands at Shor Park.

This is the second phase of a restoration project that began in 2014 when the two entities partnered to restore more than nine acres of wetlands and create a bioretention basin for storm-water management.

“We have a great partnership with Soil & Water,” said Chris Clingman, Park District Director. “This grant – and this partnership – helps us address some significant issues with the Shor property.

“We’re pleased to move forward and continue enhancing the park experience for all of our guests.”

Soil & Water administrator John McManus agreed.

“Any time you have stream erosion, that’s a problem for the immediate stream – the biology on that site – and it’s also a problem downstream,” he said. “Sending sediment downstream affects the whole stream system.

“So doing a restoration, the benefits carry downstream. The more you can protect headwater streams, the better off the whole system is.

“The other benefit this project has – partnering with the park district – is the educational aspect. With the recent improvements there at Shor Park and the great crowds who have been using the park, we can really show people how a restoration works and how it benefits the entire community.”

The Clermont SWCD Board approved a contract with project design firm Sustainable Streams Oct. 9. Design work will be completed over the winter; construction should begin next summer.

About 200 feet of Avey’s Run flows through a storm sewer system as it enters Shor Park. However, the pipes are in disrepair and several sinkholes formed, posing a possible danger to park guests.

The grant also addresses bank erosion along the stream and invasive species removal.

Part of the project includes removing the existing storm sewer and recreating a natural stream channel. Hand-placed log structures at key places along the stream bank address erosion problems elsewhere.

This technique mimics stable wood found in nature and avoids the disturbance associated with heavy equipment and grading operations.

Along with the stream restoration work, the project creates three pocket wetlands and removes more than 11 acres of invasive species.

Posted in: Uncategorized
October 10, 2019

Ghost town on the Ohio


The historical marker for the village of Utopia, home to two failed social experiments and – depending on who you believe – ghosts.

Chilo Lock 34 Site Manager

Because October is the spookiest time of year and Halloween is nearly upon us, it’s the perfect time for ghost stories.

The Ohio River is home to its fair share of chilling tales and spooky haunts – Utopia is one of the spookiest. A community established as the ideal model for communal living eventually found itself plagued by tragedy and disaster.

Followers of Charles Fourier – a French philosopher who helped promote and develop theories on communal living – founded the community of Utopia in 1844. The followers believed they should share work and profit equally among the community.

In an effort to showcase their beliefs, the original settlers of Utopia built a 30-room communal building and several other homes and structures to make up the town. Their social experiment was short lived; the town’s failure to make money led to friction among members and the town’s abandonment after two short years.

John Otis Wattles

Shortly after the failure of the Fourierist community, a spiritualist group led by John Otis Wattles purchased the land and buildings seeking a secluded area to practice their beliefs. Against the advice of locals, Wattles and his sect built their community along the banks of the Ohio River, moving the original communal building to the river bank brick by brick.

Their decision soon proved fatal.

Disaster struck on the evening of December 13, 1847; icy waters of the Ohio River rose quickly. Many townsfolk sought shelter in the town hall – where a party was being held – but their efforts proved fruitless. The rapidly rising river washed out the south wall of the building and took most of the townsfolk with it. After the tragedy, the few surviving spiritualists left the area.

Today a historical marker along U.S. 52 – erected in 2003 – marks the history of settlement. All that remains of Wattles’ community is an old stone house and an underground chapel. Both are said to be haunted by the ghosts of those who met their icy demise.

Located a short drive away from the Clermont County Park District’s Chilo Lock 34 Park along the Ohio River, remnants of the failed spiritualist community of Utopia remain visible.

For more spooky stories, join us from 8 to 9 p.m. October 18 at Chilo Lock 34 Park for our Halloween Campfire Night complete with storytelling and marshmallow roasting.


Posted in: Uncategorized
October 8, 2019

Homeschool programs now free


Homeschool programs in the Clermont County Park District will be free for the 2019-20 school year.

CLERMONT COUNTY – The Clermont County Park District waived fees for its home school programs for the 2019-20 school year.

Home school programs used to cost $4 per student.

The Park District board of park commissioners approved the measure during its September meeting.

It’s a temporary fee waiver to see if we can boost attendance,” said Robin Green, Park District naturalist. “If we see a significant change in attendance, we will ask to make this a permanent policy.”

Green cited a downward attendance trend the last several school years as the reason to make the change.

“We want to get more homeschoolers coming to our programs and on our park properties to discover nature,” she said. “Our cost probably wasn’t prohibitive, but if we removed it from the equation, it’s just that much easier for parents.

“We put in the same amount of preparation whether there’s five students or 30, so we’d rather have 30.”

In fact, more than 30 home school students are already registered for the first two programs of the school year – Wilderness Survival and Native American Life.

Wilderness survival – recommended for ages 7 to 14 – is scheduled for 10 to 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, at Sycamore Park in Batavia. Students will build shelters, identify edible plants, build fires, learn basic first aid and more.

Native American Life is set for 10 a.m. to noon Nov. 21, also at Sycamore. Students will step back in time and to learn how Native Americans lived in southern Ohio, especially the Shawnee tribe. The program includes a guided hike, corn grinding, cooking styles, atlatl throwing and more.

The park District may add additional dates or times to the schedule because of the popularity of these programs.

To learn more about the Park District’s home school programs, please visit, click the Programs & Camps tab and follow the Homeschool Programs link. Or write Green at

Posted in: Uncategorized
October 6, 2019

Pattison Lakeside trails, pond open again


The trails and fishing pond at Pattison Park are open again after a month of construction closures.

OWENSVILLE – While construction will continue another month or two, the Clermont County Park District is happy to announce the fishing pond and trails at Pattison Park Lakeside are open again.

Pattison Lakeside – on the south side of U.S. 50 just west of Owensville – had been completely closed since Labor Day to install a sidewalk along the length of the parking lot. The work included removing several feet of asphalt along the edge of the lot, which affected parking and created a fall hazard.

Progress on the new restroom facility, picnic shelter and playground at Lakeside is on schedule and – pending weather – should be complete in mid to late November.

Pattison Lodgeside – on the north side of U.S. 50 – remains completely open with access to the Park District office and the Pattison Lodge and Gazebo, one of the most popular wedding spots in Clermont County.

“We thank our guests for their patience as we continue our mission to create the best parks we can offer,” said Chris Clingman, Park District Director. “We regret the inconvenience, but look forward to having them back in the park.

Another new shelter and restroom facility are going in at Sycamore Park, the Park District’s oldest and busiest facility. Construction there is on schedule as well.

“We are happy to be interwoven into the fabric of Clermont County,” Clingman said. “We are proud to offer our guests a place where they can explore, engage and discover nature.

“While the construction is a temporary inconvenience, the resulting new facilities will enhance visitors’ park experience for generations.”

Posted in: Uncategorized