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.

Solid Waste District goes through Park District’s recycling


Audit workers emptied two recycling receptacles; they sorted and weighed the contents before returning the recyclables to their proper container and disposing of the contaminants.

OWENSVILLE – Dumpster diving may carry a negative connotation, but one particular dive hopes to bring about a positive result.

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 is to see what kinds of items are in the receptacles and if – in fact – they are recyclable.

Among the more unusual non-recyclable items found in the containers? A set of encyclopedias, a lawn chair and a damaged cooler full of rotting food.

“This is a waste sort prior to an education campaign we’ll be rolling out,” said Solid Waste District Director Hannah Lubbers. “It will be to get baseline data on the contaminants.

“We’ll do another sort after a month or two of signage at the site. Then we’ll hope to see less contamination in the drop-off – things like plastic bags, polystyrene, garbage, et cetera.”

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, like Hannah does, 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.

The two receptacles at Pattison Park get emptied four times a week. In addition to Pattison Park, there are more than 25 other recycling locations all around the county.

There used to be more.

“We had to close nine drop-off locations over the past six years because of illegal dumping,” Lubbers said. “We’re trying to prevent more from closing, which is why we’re doing the education campaign.

“We’ll only be doing the recycling audit at Pattison Park, but we’ll be rolling out the education campaign at all of the drop-off spots in Clermont County over the next several years.”

Maple season culminates with Pancakes in the Park


OWENSVILLE – The Clermont Park District celebrates one of the area’s sweetest natural resources – maple syrup.

The 15th Annual Pancakes in Park event is set for 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, March 14, at the Pattison Park Lodge (2228 U.S. Highway 50, Batavia, Ohio 45103).

Breakfast tickets are $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, $3 for children ages 6 to 12 and children ages 5 and under eat free. Tickets are available at the door and include pancakes served with real maple syrup, sausage and beverages.

In addition to the meal, Pancakes in the Park offers guests the opportunity to tour the sugar bush trail and sugar shack, see demonstrations on making syrup, pioneer demonstrations by the Grassy Run Historical Arts Society and enjoy interpretive displays on nature and history.

A $30 bucket sponsorship gets interested supporters two complimentary tickets to the breakfast, a bottle of the Park District’s blue-ribbon maple syrup and their name/message on a bucket for display as guests tour the sugar bush trail.

Sponsorship deadline is 4:30 p.m. Friday, March 6. Please fill out the sponsorship registration form here.

“This event has become a wonderful tradition for the Park District, one of our signature events,” said Park District Director Chris Clingman said. “We’re looking forward to having people enjoying the meal, enjoying the chance to learn and just enjoying a morning in the park.”

Pancakes in the Park also marks the first big event of the Park District’s 50th anniversary year. A free commemorative magazine highlighting the past, present and future of the district will be available to guests.

Since January, Park District staff and volunteers have been on the sugar bush trail tapping trees and collecting sap to make syrup. (It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make a single gallon of syrup.)

The Park District interpretive team offers a variety of maple-related programs to a wide range of audiences leading up to Pancakes in the Park.

“We have excellent facilities and programs all over the county, but maple season is a unique, family-friendly chance to tie our daily lives to the natural world,” Clingman said. “People eat breakfast every day, but how often do they realize some of what is on their table could come from their own back yard?”

Make your own masterpiece


CHILO – Calling all Van Gough wannabes, Rembrandts in training and potential Picassos.

The Clermont County Park District invites you to pick up your paint brush and attend its first-ever Painting in the Park event at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 22, at Chilo Lock 34 Park.

Actually, you don’t even have to pick up your own brush.

Charity Peter of Art Surrendered provides the brushes, paints, easels, canvases and step-by-step instructions for guests to create their own 16×20″ canvas masterpiece of the iconic Chilo Lock 34 powerhouse and water tower on the Ohio River.

Cost is $35 per person; capacity is limited to 30 guests.

In addition to painting, there will be refreshments with short nature and history presentations by Park District Naturalist Robin Green and Chilo Lock 34 Visitors Center Site Manager Ben Morrill.

“As we begin the Park District’s 50th anniversary year, we’re looking for new and fun ways to interact with our guests,” said Mark D. Motz, community relations manager. “Painting in the Park will be a great family fun activity, a good girls’ night out event or something a little different for date night.

“This is an exclusive, intimate opportunity to make a personal connection with a beautiful, unique gem in our park system, as well as make your own personal keepsake of the night and of the park.

“We’re excited to have Charity’s infectious energy and artistic talent to lead our guests through this experience.”

This event is limited to ages 16 and up.

To register, please visit our Signup Genius link here.

Mail or drop off check payments at the Park District business office at Pattison Park – 2228 U.S. Highway 50, Batavia, Ohio 45103 – during regular office hours, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Guests also may make credit or debit card payments – with a nominal service fee – over the phone at 513-732-2977 during office hours.

Payment deadline is noon Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020.

Questions? Please write Mark Motz at

Park District unveils van wrap


BATAVIA – Christmas came early to the Clermont County Park District.

The Park District van primarily used by naturalists received a new look with a nature-themed wrap applied to the van.

The wrap is one of the first – and will certainly be among the most visible – changes to come from the Park District’s branding initiative.

DigiMax Graphics in Milford created the wrap using photographs shot by Park District staff. It also prominently features a new logo, graphic elements and dual “Proudly Clermont” images.

The Park District took delivery of the new-look van Dec. 20.

“This wrap is an excellent tool to promote our brand,” said Mark D. Motz, community relations manager. “In a lot of ways, our naturalists have been and will continue to be the public face of the Park District.

“They work with all ages in all of our parks, as well as in area schools, libraries, senior centers, civic clubs and more. That’s part of our story, being interwoven with the community. To go from a plain white van to something as eye catching as this, we really announce that connection. It’s a conversation piece.”

The images on the van represent a variety of natural habitats found in the Park District.

The driver’s side features an ironweed meadow at the 10-Mile Preserve. The passenger’s side displays the wetland pond area near the entrance to Chilo Lock 34 Park. The back includes a creek bed at Wilson Nature Preserve, adjacent to Sycamore Park.

The back also invites people to “explore your own backyard” and gives the Park District web address (

Naturalist Robin Green hopes people will explore accordingly and keep an eye out for opportunities to interact.

“I’m excited people can see who I am,” said naturalist Robin Green. “If they see the van, they’ll know there’s a naturalist somewhere nearby and be able to find me.”

Museum limiting hours through winter


CHILO – The Visitors Center and Museum at Chilo Lock 34 Park will move to a weekends-only schedule for the winter starting in 2020.

The Clermont County Park District recently announced its winter-season schedule for the Chilo Lock 34 Park Visitors Center.

From January through March, 2020, the Visitors Center only will be open weekends  from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Visitors Center will be closed entirely for the holidays Dec. 23, 2019, through Jan. 3, 2020. The weekends-only hours take effect Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020. In-season hours (10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday) return April 1, 2020.

Group tours of the museum will be available during the week with a minimum of two weeks’ notice. To schedule a tour, please contact Site Manager Ben Morrill at

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. 

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