Park District takes more steps for public safety


As the COVID-19 pandemic moves forward, the Clermont Park District continues to take steps to encourage people to enjoy the outdoors while maintaining proper social distancing.

On the advice of both Clermont Public Health and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, the Park District has removed the goals from the basketball court and closed the tennis courts at Sycamore Park in Batavia.

“While we encourage parks remaining open for the community to get exercise, any type of group or team sports – whether organized or recreational  – should not be occurring at this time to reduce the possible spread of COVID-19,” said Julianne Nesbit, Clermont Public Health Commissioner.

“From experience across the country, we have seen were COVID-19 was easily spread to teammates and we have experience locally knowing other respiratory diseases can spread easily among people playing team sports.”

The closure of the basketball and tennis courses follows last week’s closure of playgrounds in the Park District.

In addition, the Park District has taped off the picnic shelters in Chilo Lock 34, Hartman Log Cabin, Pattison, Shor and Sycamore parks to remind people not to gather in large groups.

“We are closing these park amenities to comply with the state and county and to help ensure the safety and health of our guests and our staff,” said Chris Clingman, Park District Director. “All of these are too susceptible to close contact with other people, which could facilitate the spread of the coronavirus.”

Park District restroom facilities also have been closed, but there will be port-a-pottys available in each of the parks.

“I want parks to remain open, but I also need people to continue to abide by the social and physical distancing requirements,” Nesbit said. “Activities that allow for six feet of distancing for non-household members and do not use shared equipment are fine.”

According to Clermont Public Health, as of March 30 there were nine confirmed case of COVID-19 in the county. Information on the virus is updated daily at .

Area artist highlights hive at Shor Park


“Hive Mind,” a color-pencil drawing by local artist Margi Hopkins.

UNION TWP. – One never knows where inspiration may strike.

Batavia-based artist Margi Hopkins found it at Shor Park 4659 Tealtown Road, Milford, OH 45150 photographing the toddler son of a friend crawling through the beehive portion of the playground.

“It was just a really fun photograph of him coming through that beehive,” Hopkins said. “The way the light was coming through one of the holes, his expression, that window behind him looking out into the park.”

She turned the photo into “Hive Mind,” a 20-by-24-inch color-pencil portrait and submitted the piece for inclusion in the Colored Pencil Society of America’s 28th Annual International Exhibition & Convention.

(The exhibit was scheduled to run at the Dunedin Fine Art Center in Florida, but in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis moved to an online exhibition opening July 15. Hopkins is a signature member of the CPSA and has been selected for several previous international exhibitions.)

How long does it take to turn a photograph into a piece of art?

“My canned answer is a lifetime,” Hopkins said. “I’ve been doing commission work since 2000, but I’m in my 60s and have been doing art since I was a kid. In terms of actual time for this piece, I try to work with audio books. This was about three and a half books worth of work, so maybe 60 hours.”

Hopkins takes some license when creating her art. The bee at the center of “Hive Mind,” for example.

“It’s intentionally big because it’s the boy’s imagination,” she said. “It’s also closer to the viewer than the child, so it’s more in focus. I blend all kinds of things to make the picture.

“The texture was intentional. I meant to make it look pixilated. I got real tight on the bee, real sharp, but the boy kind of dissolves so it would feel atmospheric.”

Hopkins said she’s done other pieces created from exploring Shor Park for the last nine years.

“My artwork is very local, things that you see all the time,” she said. “The thing that holds it all together is that I love nature.

“We’ve got a beehive and bee right there. What would little boys and girls do if they didn’t have bugs to explore? You don’t even need the play scape, it’s just a place where you can explore. The parks are a way to keep people connected to those things. They need the time to explore what’s right in front of them.”

The beehive feature is part of Clermont County’ first certified inclusive playground. The play structure opened to great acclaim in the spring of 2019 and had its official dedication July 16.

“This was and is a beautiful property,” said Sylvia Shor at the dedication. She made the donation of 56 acres to the Park District to create the park in her husband’s memory. “It’s more than I ever could have imagined. I love it. But look out there (at the busy playground). They like it and that’s what matters.”

Hopkins is represented by the Row House Gallery in Milford, where some of her work is on display. To see more of her art, please visit

During the Covid-19 crisis, the playground at Shor Park is closed to the public. The paved walking path and hiking trails through the park remain open from sunrise to dusk seven days a week. Please practice social distancing of at least six feet from your fellow guests when visiting the park.

Park District playgrounds off limits


OWENSVILLE – In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and orders from the Ohio Department of Health, the Clermont Park District has closed its playgrounds to the public.

While parks and nature preserves – including walking paths, hiking trails and river accesses – remain open for the public to enjoy with responsible social distancing from sunrise to dusk every day, playgrounds are now off limits until at least April 7, 2020.

The Park District operates playgrounds at Sycamore Park in Batavia and Chilo Lock 34 Park in Chilo, as well as the first certified inclusive playground in Clermont County at Shor Park in Union Township.

“We are closing these play facilities to comply with the state and to help ensure the safety and health of our guests and our staff,” said Chris Clingman, Park District Director. “Our playgrounds are popular features of our parks, but they are too susceptible to close contact with other people, which could facilitate the spread of coronavirus.

“We hope people will take advantage of our trails, paths and open spaces to get a respite from the new stay-at-home order issued for Ohio March 22, but we want them to do so safely and help keep the virus in check.”

Park District restrooms have been closed, but there will be a port-a-potty available in each of the parks.

For more information on COVID-19 in Ohio, check the state site here (which is updated daily at about 2 p.m.). Clermont Public Health has a COVID 19 section on its website as well.

Coronavirus forces Park District Changes


OWENSVILLE – In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Clermont Park District has modified its business operations.

The Park District will conduct business during its normal hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, but offices are closed to the public. To reach the business office, please call 513-732-2977 or write

Guests may pay for a facility rental by mail or over the phone. Viewings of the Pattison Lodge and Hartman Cabin have been discontinued until further notice. Please call the Park District office for any additional information on facility rentals at 513-732-2977.

The Chilo Lock 34 Park Visitor Center and Museum will be closed until further notice. Yurt rentals at Chilo have been suspended and all interpretive naturalist programs throughout the Park District have been cancelled as well.

Our parks and nature preserves – including walking paths, hiking trails and river accesses – remain open for the public to enjoy. Hours are sunrise to dusk, seven days a week.

“This is an unprecedented situation and one that is changing rapidly, so we’re doing the best we can to ensure the safety and health of our guests and our staff,” said Chris Clingman, Park District Director. “We have been – and will continue – to work closely with Clermont County Public Health to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.”

The Park District maintenance staff has instituted a series of daily disinfectant protocols for all public and rental spaces, including Pattison Lodge, Hartman Cabin and all Park District restroom facilities.

For more information on COVID-19 in Ohio, check the state site here (which is updated daily at about 2 p.m.). Clermont Public Health has a COVID 19 section on its website as well.

Pancakes in the Park postponed


OWENSVILLE – The Clermont Park District indefinitely postponed its annual Pancakes in the Park celebration originally scheduled for 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, March 14.

The growing coronavirus (COVID 19) crisis led to the decision to postpone the 15th annual event at Pattison Lodge, the sugar shack and sugar bush trail.

“It’s an unfortunate and unprecedented situation, but we’re always going to err on the side of the safety and health of our guests,” said Chris Clingman, Park District Director. “We’ve been working closely with Clermont County Public Health in making this decision.”

The Park District is following the directive of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, who instituted a ban public gatherings of 100 people or more for the foreseeable future.

“We are doing the things we are doing because we have the potential to become like Italy,” DeWine said on March 11. “We are taking the actions we are taking now to try to avoid that.

“The situation will get bad before it gets better, but it is in our hands to determine what the outcome will be.”

In addition to Pancakes in the Park, the Winter Lecture Series: Reading the Landscape of Clermont County, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday March 19 at Pattison Lodge will be postponed as well.

Beyond cancellations, the Park District maintenance staff has instituted a series of daily disinfectant protocols for public spaces, including Pattison Lodge, Hartman Cabin, Chilo Lock 34 Visitors Center and all Park District restroom facilities.

For more information on COVID 19 in Ohio, check the state site here (which is updated daily at about 2 p.m.). Clermont Public Health has a COVID 19 section on its website as well.

Spring Litter Cleanup Set


Get ready to fight dirty.

As in being dirty, not low blows and rabbit punches.

The Clermont Park District partners once again with the Clermont Soil and Water Conservation District for the Spring Litter Cleanup.

SLC is an annual litter clean-up event in communities across Clermont County and the East Fork Little Miami River Watershed. Volunteers of all ages are welcome.

This year’s event is scheduled for Saturday, May 16.

“It is inspiring to see so many people come together each to year to protect our local parks, streams and lakes,” said Becky McClatchey, natural resources specialist with Soil & Water.

The East Fork Watershed Collaborative and the Valley View Foundation coordinate the event each year.

The EFWC formed in 2001 to help communities restore and protect the East Fork Little Miami River watershed.  The EFWC includes representatives from local government agencies, community organizations and residents.

The VVF is a grassroots, nonprofit organization whose mission is to conserve land, preserve history and share it with the Greater Cincinnati community. Valley View works on projects related to land preservation and restoration, and to support local conservation efforts and projects.

SLC sponsors include the Clermont County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, the Duke Energy Foundation and the Southern Ohio Association of Realtors. The Ohio EPA Division of Recycling and Litter Prevention provided a grant for additional assistance.

Other event partners include the Clermont Office of Environmental Quality, OSU Extension, Ohio Department of Natural Resources State Parks and Division of Watercraft, Highland SWCD, Brown SWCD, Clinton SWCD and more.

To register, click here.

Recycling numbers revealed


Nearly 60 percent of the items in the Pattison Park recycling bins Feb. 21 were – in fact – recyclable materials.

OWENSVILLE – The numbers are in.

The Adams-Clermont Solid Waste District conducted an audit Feb. 21 at its recycling drop-off in the parking lot of Pattison Park Lakeside. The goal was to see what kind of items were in the receptacles and if – in fact – they were recyclable.

Of the 670 pounds of material pulled from the receptacles, 396 pounds worth were recyclable items, which works out to 59 percent.

The largest category of recyclables (19.6 percent) was cardboard, followed by glass (17 percent) and recyclable paper (14 percent). Others categories included recyclable plastics, metals and aseptic items.

On the other side of the coin, construction debris and furniture (12.9 percent) made up the largest chunk of contaminants. Miscellaneous (9.4 percent) and books (7.3 percent) were the next largest offenders.

“The (solid waste) district was interested in conducting an initial waste sort … in order to collect baseline data,” according to the report from GT Environmental. “The district would like to obtain information on the specific types of contaminants that are commonly deposited with acceptable recyclables … so the district can make necessary adjustments to its messaging and educational efforts.”

“A second audit will occur after the education and outreach program has been implemented. Data from the second audit will be compared to the data in this report to determine the effectiveness of the education and outreach program.”

The audit and ensuing educational campaign are funded by a grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

“We have a long history working with the Solid Waste District,” said Chris Clingman, Clermont Park District Director. “We both want to preserve and protect Clermont County’s natural resources, so kicking off the education campaign at Pattison Park a great fit.

“We hope people continue to take advantage of the free recycling opportunities we have in the county. But in order for it to work, people need to know what they can and can’t put in the bins.”

See a list of appropriate materials to recycle right here.

“We’ll be rolling out the education campaign at all of the drop-off spots in Clermont County over the next several years,” said Solid Waste District Director Hannah Lubbers. “We’ll hope to see less contamination in the drop-off – things like plastic bags, polystyrene, garbage, et cetera.”

To see the complete report from GT Environmental, please click here.

Chilo Visitor Center getting new HVAC system


CHILO – The building is nearly 100 years old.

Originally the powerhouse for Chilo Lock and Dam #34 along the Ohio River when it opened in 1925 – and now a visitor center and museum – the Clermont County Park District will make an infrastructure investment for the comfort of its guests.

The Park District announced it seeks professional contractor bids for a new HVAC system at the Chilo Lock 34 Visitor Center. Engineer estimate for the project is $106,800.

The Park District will host a non-mandatory pre-bid meeting at 9 a.m. March 24 at the Visitor Center (521 County Park Road, Chilo, Ohio 45112). Bids are due in the Park District office (2228 U.S. Highway 50, Batavia, Ohio 45103) by 2 p.m. March 31, at which time they will be opened and read publicly.

The bid proposal calls for work on the project to be complete Aug. 17, 2020.

“That building is a fortress,” said Park District Community Relations Manager Mark Motz. “It’s withstood floods, tornadoes, deep freezes and scorching heat. But a building that age just isn’t equipped for modern heating and cooling.

“The Park District is committed to providing its guests a first-class experience. Part of that is making sure they are comfortable when they are in our facilities. This new HVAC system will ensure that for years to come.”

For complete bid details, please click here .

Holiday light recycling successful


A holiday light recycling effort resulted in about a muskox worth of collected light strands.

BATAVIA – The numbers are in.

The Clermont Park District’s partnership with the Adams-Clermont Solid Waste District and the Clermont Soil and Water Conservation District to collect and recycle old holiday lights yielded more than 300 pounds.

The agencies placed recycling bins at four locations throughout Clermont County Chilo, Jackson Township, Batavia and Owensville – from Dec. 1, 2019 to Jan. 20, 2020.

“We recycled 319 pounds of holiday lights across the Park District, Solid Waste and SWCD offices,” said Hannah Lubbers, Solid Waste District Director. “Not a bad amount for the first year of the program. We thank everyone for their help with this program.”

So, how much is 319 pounds?

“It’s approximately the weight of a muskox,” Lubbers said. “We didn’t count (individually), but based on the weight, it would likely be four miles of strands.”

A muskox is an Arctic hoofed mammal more closely related to goats than oxen. While it may be a bit of a stretch to make a connection to the North Pole via burnt-out rope lights and a hairy creature known for its funky odor, the four-mile figure is nothing to sneeze at.

“That’s about the combined length of all the hiking trails through Sycamore Park and the adjacent Wilson Nature Preserve,” said Mark D. Motz, Park District community relations manager.

“Looking at it another way, it’s only 5.2 miles from the Hartman Log Cabin – where one of the receptacles was – to the Clermont County Fairgrounds where the another one stood at the Soil & Water office.”

The collected lights went to Cohen Recycling for green disposal.

“This program gave a good, green place to get rid of an item a lot of people probably didn’t even realize was recyclable,” Motz said. “It’s always nice to work with Solid Waste and Soil & Water. We’re glad we could do a little bit to help the environment and preserve our natural resources. It will be nice to see how this program grows over time.”

Students discover sweet secrets


OWENSVILLE – The Clermont Park District shared the secret of maple syrup with kindergarten kids from Clermont Northeastern last week.

They got an introduction to photosynthesis in the Pattison Lodge before heading outside for some experiential learning in the field, on the sugar bush trail and in the sugar shack.

On consecutive afternoons Feb. 20 and 21, some of our youngest, most energetic fans enjoyed seeing how syrup lands on their tables.

At one station, students learned the legend of how Native Americans discovered the sweet sap of the sugar maple tree. They also simulated using hot stones to boil the sap in a hollowed-out log and carrying buckets to a cauldron via a yoke.

In the sugar shack, students saw the wood-fired evaporator in action. Collected sap – which has a sugar content of about 2.5 percent – goes in one end, boils and reduces in volume while increasing in sugar content.

That labor-intensive process takes about 40 gallons of sap to create a single gallon of syrup.

In addition, they got to taste sap, maple tea (which has been boiled down a bit to make the clear sap darker), some maple syrup and some maple candy. The solid sugar candy comes from boiling away all the liquids from the sap.

On the sugar bush trail, children saw the tools of the trade in action and had a chance to operate a hand drill to bore into a sugar maple tree. They also saw how to clean the resulting hole, insert a spile and hang a bucket to catch the drippings.

Cold nights – below freezing – followed by warmer, sunny days gets the sap flowing and filling up the buckets.

The Park District has more maple programming in store, too.

The popular Hikes with Tykes series returns from 11 a.m. to noon Friday, Feb. 28, at Pattison Lodge. Recommended for ages 2 to 6, the tykes will take a short guided hike through the sugar bush trail to search for maple trees, sweet sap and woodpeckers. Then hikers head inside to explore maple syrup and sap with sensory activities and a craft.

From 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 29, check out Discovery Days: Art and Tools of Maple Sugaring. Recommended for ages 6 to 14, discover how to tap a sugar maple tree, find and prepare its sap and learn the art of turning sap into syrup. You’ll get to taste some of the finished product. Be prepared to be outside for a short hike.

And the biggest event of maple season is getting close. The 15th annual Pancakes in the Park runs 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, March 14, at the Pattison Lodge. Tickets are $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, $3 for children 6 to 12 and free for kids 5 and younger.

Tickets are available at the door and include pancakes, sausage, real maple syrup and beverages. In addition to the meal, guests may tour the sugar bush trail and sugar shack, see demonstrations on making syrup, pioneer demonstrations by the Grassy Run Historical Arts Society, enjoy naturalist displays and more.