Great Miami River Recreational Trail Update

City Hall

In an effort to improve connectivity and expand the recreational trail network for City residents, three significant trail projects are currently underway.  The first of these projects, known as the Great Miami River Recreational Trail – Phase 2, is a 1.6 mile segment along the Hamilton Hydraulic Canal between Riverside Park and Canal Road.  The second project is the Interceptor Trail that is being built along the river from Columbia Bridge (Pershing Avenue) to Riverside Park.  A ramp will provide access from RiversEdge Park to the Interceptor Trail is currently being designed.

More detailed descriptions of each of these projects can be found below.

Great Miami River Recreational Trail – Phase 2

The Phase 2 project consists of 1.6 miles of paved recreational trail following the alignment of an existing gravel road used to maintain the hydraulic canal.  It extends through portions of Hamilton, Fairfield Township, and St. Clair Township. The project begins at Riverside Park near Third Street in Hamilton and ends at the trailhead parking lot on Canal Road, near Allison Avenue.

A section of Phase 2 trail along the Hydraulic Canal

The project will utilize an existing bridge to cross the Hydraulic Canal at the trailhead parking lot on Canal Road, near Allison Avenue in Fairfield Township.  A new bridge will be built near the Hydraulic Canal its confluence across with the Great Miami River.  The trail will pass beneath existing CSX Railroad and US 127 (Third Street) Bridges over the Hydraulic Canal.

Phase 2 will fill the gap between the Phase 1 trail, at Canal Road, and the trail system along the river in downtown Hamilton.  This will provide a non-motorized connection extending from Waterworks Park in Fairfield, along the river through downtown Hamilton, to Rentschler Forest MetroPark in Fairfield Township.

  • Construction Cost

$2,231,244.00 of which $500,000 is being funded by a grant from ODNR, Clean Ohio Trails Fund; the balance of the project is being funded by the Hamilton Community Foundation.

  • Contractor

Sunesis Construction Co.
2610 Crescentville Road
West Chester, OH 45069

  • Schedule

Construction Start Date: October 23, 2014

Status as of December 10:  10% complete

Completion Date: April 17, 2015 (weather dependent)

Interceptor Trail

1.3 miles of paved trail is being constructed along the river from Columbia Bridge northerly to Riverside Park along with the sanitary sewer interceptor project.  The sanitary sewer interceptor will convey sanitary sewer flows from the west side of the Great Miami River to the Water Reclamation Facility.

This project is mandated by a Consent Decree from the OEPA to mitigate Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSO’s) in the City of Hamilton’s sewer system.

A portion of this project includes the construction of an asphalt road that is approximately 7,000 feet by 10 feet wide; this road will provide access to the sanitary sewer pipes and double as a recreational trail, connecting the Phase 2 project at the Hydraulic Canal near the Power Plant to the existing trail just north of the Columbia Bridge on the east bank of the Great Miami River.

  • Construction Cost

$15,019,309.00 of which $308,000.00 is budgeted for the Access road/Bike path construction.

  • Contractor

SJ Louis Construction, Inc.
13515 Broadway Street West
Rockville, MN 56369-0459

  •  Schedule

Construction Start Date:  April 5, 2013

Completion Date: April 15, 2015 (weather dependent)

 RiversEdge Bike Ramp

The ramp will connect the trails surrounding RiversEdge to the Interceptor Trail located along the toe of the levee.  It will be located near the amphitheater and will extend to the south for 300-ft across the concrete revetment to the trail below.  Construction drawings are being completed by the engineering consultant.

  • Construction Cost

To Be Determined

  • Contractor

To Be Determined

  • Schedule

Construction Start Date: Spring 2015

Status as of December 10:  Design 95% complete

2014 1219 bike 02

Locations of trail construction highlighted in yellow and red.
Key: 1)  Great Miami River Recreation Trail – Phase II [red], 2) Interceptor Trail [yellow], 3) RiversEdge Bike Ramp [yellow]

UPDATED WITH AUDIO: Butch Hubble remembered by the community he loved

The City of Hamilton and the Great Miami Valley YMCA hosted a tribute to Butch Hubble today at the Booker T. Washington Community Center. Butch was a marvelously humble and hard-working individual who cared a lot for this community. His effort and his genial personality will be missed by all who knew him. Below is an audio recording of the event, and below that , a reprint of a profile I wrote for the Journal-News in April, 2013, when Butch was honored with the Janet Clemmons Award. –Richard O Jones

Hamilton Community Council leader honored for work
Butch Hubble earns 2013 Clemmons Award

After two careers, one in the U.S. Navy and a second in the San Diego Police Department, Butch Hubble thought it might be a good idea to come back to his hometown so he could “watch the grass grow and play golf with my buddies.”

Butch Hubble, director of the Booker T. Washington Community Center and Robert Hendricks, program director.

He came back home, but resting and golf were not as much on the agenda as he had planned, much to the benefit of the city.

At first, he lived in the family home on Hanover Street on the city’s East Side.

“I saw that there were so many things that needed to be done, that needed to be addressed,” he said. “When I left (in 1962), Hamilton was one of the leading industrial cities in the world. Now much of the community is waiting on government assistance to survive and there’s just something wrong with that practice.”

2014 1215 061413-btw-reopen1
Chris Lindeman, executive director for the Hamilton Central YMCA: Robert Hendricks, program director for the Booker T. Washington Community Center; Karen Staley, chief operating officer of the Great Miami Valley YMCA; and Butch Hubble, center director of the Booker T. Washington Community Center, talk about changes at the Booker T. Washington Community Center, which reopens June 17 after two months of renovations. Photo by Greg Lynch/JournalNews

So with a core group of like-minded individuals, Hubble founded the Hamilton Community Council in 2004.

For his leadership of the council, Hubble has received SELF’s 2013 Janet Clemmons Community Service Award, selected by a committee of former and current SELF board members for the award.

“Butch is a special individual who cares about others and making a difference in their lives and in his community,” said nominator Nancy Wiley, a member of the Hamilton Vision Commission.

“Butch ‘Humble Hubble’ is the definition of the Janet Clemmons mission,” said Tina Jones, a member of the Hamilton Community Council, who also nominated him for the honor.

2014 1215 butch video
Click on the image to see a video of Butch Hubble being interviewed by Shaun Higgins as part of Miami Hamilton’s “What’s Your Story” series.

Hubble said the council is purely a “grass-roots group” that tries to serve the community, but not by giving people money.

“We don’t want people coming to us for the wrong reasons,” he said. “If you’re not there to give and make sure that your friends are doing as well as you are, then you’re not part of the Hamilton Community Council.”

“I can’t handle America’s attraction to negativity, so what we try to do is dwell on the positive,” he said. “We want to bring smiles and happiness to the community.”

Jeffrey Diver, executive director of SELF (Supports to Encourage Low-Income Families), said that he first met Hubble while doing some community organizing work in the Second Ward.

“We spent a lot of time together and I found that we are kindred spirits,” Diver said, “people who have the ability to make change in their own communities.

“For the Janet Clemmons Award, each year we ask the community for nominations for individuals who have gone above and beyond to help low-income families, especially volunteers like Butch,” he said. “Janet helped found our organization and so many others that have had a real impact on the community.”

One of the first projects for Hubble and the Hamilton Community Council was the “Rock the Block” summer concert events at Bailey Square and Symmes Park, open mic events that drew hundreds of people.

“We never had one negative incident,” he said.

The Council has also been heavily involved in the CLEEN program (Comprehensive Litter Education and Enforcement Now), similar to a program he stared as a police officer in San Diego, using grant money to put off-duty undercover police on the street to write tickets for littering and dumping.

“If you clean your community, you increase community pride, crime goes down, businesses will grow, people will be happier and talk about the city in a positive way,” he said. “This is a tested concept and I saw it work in San Diego.”

“I reflect back on what my grandmother told me: If you clean your house, the roaches will go away,” Hubble said.

Photo by Nick Daggy/JournalNews.

City in line to receive $10M for South Hamilton Crossing

City Hall

The Ohio Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) Transportation Review Advisory Council (TRAC) met today to recommend funding for projects from throughout the State of Ohio.  TRAC was established by Ohio Revised Code in 1997 and is a nine-member council that assists in developing a project selection process for ODOT’s largest investments. The council members recommended $10 million dollars for the South Hamilton Crossing (SHX) project citing the significant impact the project will have improving transportation in the City of Hamilton and the region. SHX will replace an existing at-grade railroad crossing with a railroad overpass created by extending Grand Boulevard to the west. The Butler County Transportation Improvement District (TID) applied for the funding this year in partnership with the City of Hamilton.

In addition to the $10 million from the State of Ohio, SHX has received $2.45 million in funding from OKI Regional Council of Governments, $750,000 from the Butler County TID, $100,000 from the Butler County Engineer’s Office, and is expected to receive an estimated $1 million from the railroad. The City of Hamilton anticipates contributing approximately half of the cost of the project. The total project cost is estimated to be $29 million.

Currently, there is only one existing grade separated crossing that permits east-west flow through the City of Hamilton (Jack Kirsch Underpass). This project is expected to greatly improve connectivity, reduce drive times, and increase safety. Currently, 56 trains travel through the existing crossing daily, blocking the crossing 15.3% of the time.

SHX is anticipated to have especially important benefits to Vora Technology Park, University Commerce Park, and Miami University-Hamilton, as it greatly improves transit access to these areas.

“The State of Ohio’s contribution to the South Hamilton Crossing project is crucial to its success,” stated City Manager Joshua Smith. “SHX is very important to the City of Hamilton because it will improve safety, enhance traffic flow, and make development more attractive in a key area of the city. The Ohio Department of Transportation is a tremendous partner and we are very grateful for ODOT’s support of SHX. Without partners like ODOT, OKI, elected representatives, and our TID member communities, we could not complete this project.”

The City of Hamilton began right-of-way acquisition for the project in February 2014 and construction is anticipated to start March 2016. The project is expected to be complete in late 2017. There are records of plans for South Hamilton Crossing dating back to 1911.

“Jim Blount, Chairman of the Butler County TID, has been a long-time champion of South Hamilton Crossing and was instrumental in moving the project forward,” Joshua Smith continued. “Carla Fiehrer and Ed Shelton also deserve recognition for their efforts to get South Hamilton Crossing completed.”

TRAC will conduct a final vote after a period for public comment that closes January 20th.

Hamilton CNG Station to Hold Ribbon Cutting‏

City Hall

This Friday, Hamilton Utilities will be holding a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for our brand new public access Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) vehicle fueling station. This station represents another tool in Hamilton’s arsenal to help businesses and residents reduce their energy costs while also lowering greenhouse gas emissions and contributing to the local economy. The station is located at 2220 S. Erie Highway adjacent to the Hamilton Municipal Garage and will be open for business starting Friday.

As one of the nation’s oldest public natural gas systems and the state’s second largest municipal system, Hamilton Utilities has not lost sight of the original call to build the infrastructure needed so that its residents and patrons can utilize new technologies. Hamilton Utilities has invested $1.8 million in Greater Cincinnati’s first public CNG station. Because CNG produces lower emissions of pollutants and greenhouses gases in comparison to gasoline, funding sources included a $700,000 Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) grant. Being the first public CNG fueling station in Greater Cincinnati, this facility represents Hamilton Utilities continuing efforts to be at the forefront of technology and utility service while continuing to be one of the lowest cost service providers in the area.

The City’s Senior Project Manager for the station, Mark Murray, stated that, “The overall economic benefit of this technology to companies and residents is outstanding. Hamilton has had the lowest natural gas rates in the state for 18 years and that is going to be reflected in the price per GGE [gasoline gallon equivalent] at our station. The fact that natural gas is more price-stable, better for the environment, locally sourced, and safer than traditional vehicle fuels is just the icing on the cake.”

The addition of this CNG station offers a fuel to our region that is more stable in price. This is because only 20% of the at the pump cost of CNG is based upon fuel extraction as opposed to about 65% of traditional fuel. This means that even significant changes in extraction costs, which are not projected, would only have a minor implication on the at-the-pump-price of CNG fuel. Furthermore, CNG is found abundantly in the United States meaning that the fuel does not have to travel as far and that more money is retained in the regional economy. CNG also offers users additional savings by increasing the time between regular tune-ups and oil changes. The station’s opening price is set at $1.99 per gallon of gasoline equivalent (GGE).

The ribbon cutting ceremony will feature State Representative Wes Retherford, City Manager Joshua Smith, Mayor Pat Moeller and representatives from Rumpke, OKI Regional Council of Governments, Clean Fuels Ohio, and more. The ceremony will commence at 11 AM at the Hamilton Municipal Garage at 2210 South Erie Highway. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP with Liz Hayden at or (513) 785-7068.

Craig Bucheit to Become Hamilton’s Next Police Chief‏

City Hall

Effective January 2, 2015, Craig Bucheit will be promoted to Hamilton, Ohio’s Police Chief. Bucheit has a long service record with the Hamilton Police Division, beginning his career as an officer in 1997 and being made Detective in 2001. In 2006, Bucheit was promoted to sergeant and served as a Patrol Shift Supervisor and later as the department’s Public Information Officer as head of the Public Affairs section. Later, Bucheit commanded a patrol shift as a Lieutenant until promotion to his current assignment as Police Captain in 2012. In addition, Bucheit has served 13 years as a member of the Hamilton-Fairfield-Miami University regional SWAT team most recently as the Team Commander.

A native Hamiltonian, Bucheit graduated from Badin High School and went on to receive an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice at Miami University. Bucheit is also a graduate of the Police Executive Leadership College and is expected to graduate the 14-month long Certified Law Enforcement Executive program in February 2015. Upon graduation he will join just over 300 graduates to hold the CLEE designation since the program’s inception in 1996.

City Manager Joshua Smith said, “I am excited to see someone of Chief Bucheit’s skill, demeanor, integrity, insight, and leadership style taking over this position. Chief Bucheit is a great asset for the Police Division and the City of Hamilton, and he will continue to empower our neighborhoods to be safe, clean, and engaged.”

Bucheit is eager to serve as the City of Hamilton’s next Police Chief stating, “I am honored to follow Chief Scrimizzi and the progress that his years of dedicated service have brought to our division. I plan to continue the vigorous pursuit of our division’s mission of providing exceptional police service for a better Hamilton.”

Bucheit continued in reference to partnership with the organization, “Our efforts will continue to focus on innovative strategies and the broadening our community engagement. One example of those efforts from April of last year was the creation of the downtown walking beat officer position. The position was made possible in part by a grant from the Community Foundation and local businesses and its creation exemplifies our efforts to engage residents and partner with businesses and not-for-profit entities. I will work to see this position becomes a permanent fixture in downtown as the city continues its historic redevelopment. Additionally, our partnership with the Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine in the Safe Neighborhood Initiative this summer is another shining example of how our department has worked collaboratively with other organizations which actively contributed to the recent reduction of gun violence”

When asked about his future as Chief, Bucheit commented that, “In addition to broadening our partnerships I want to see that our existing relationships with organizations like the City-Wide Faith Based Alliance and Hamilton City Schools are strengthened even further. I plan to also continue to pursue innovative strategies like the restructuring of our patrol shifts that will continue to allow more uniformed officers to be assigned to the street when they are needed. Finally, I plan to move forward with the civilianization of administrative positions currently held by sworn officers allowing more uniformed officers to be redirected to our frontline operations. All of these examples and more are how the Hamilton Police Division has and will continue under this administration to work for a better Hamilton.”

As Hamilton’s Police Chief, Bucheit will be taking the place of current Chief Scott Scrimizzi, who plans to retire on January 2nd, 2015. Bucheit will take on the oversight and administration of the division’s 122 person staff and $13.9 million budget.

Butler County Historical Society receives treasures from a dumpster

Butler County Historical Society

Earlier this year, out of the blue, a gentleman walked into the Butler County Historical Society with two boxes of old photos and letters that he literally rescued from the garbage. They had belonged to his neighbor, an elderly woman who recently passed away, and the man felt like someone ought to be interested in that stuff, so he salvaged the boxes and brought them here.

William J. Morand in his dress uniform.

He would not leave his name, but we owe him a world of thanks. The neighbor was Jean Fludder Armstrong, a Hamilton native, long-time educator, once a member of the Historical Society Board of Trustees and life member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

The boxes sat around for a while before anyone had a chance to go through them, and in the meantime, the Historical Society got a check from Mrs. Armstrong’s estate. She thought to remember us in her will, but did not leave any instructions for the disposal of her family papers and it is only by sheer serendipity and the good grace of a neighbor that those were saved.

While it might be a stretch to say that the boxes are historical gold mines, they did contain a lot of valuable treasure and much of it will indeed be accessed into the Butler County Historical Society archives and collections.

Mrs. Armstrong was a well-traveled person and the box did contain some interesting and historically significant material.

Among some of the treasures:

  • Photos of Hamilton’s V-E Day celebration;
  • Photos of the parade that celebrated the opening of the truss bridge that was washed away in the 1913 flood;
  • Souvenirs from community and high school events;
  • A bundle of letters from U.S. Senators and Congressmen with their signatures; including thank you notes from Robert F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy for the family’s donation of material to the JFK Library;
  • Genealogical information about the Morand family, including photos of William J. Morand, a Hamilton industrialist and Mrs. Armstrong’s grandfather.
William J. Morand on his mount.


As it turns out, Mr. Morand served in the historic Sixth Regiment of the United States Infantry of the Regular Army during the Indian Wars (1880-1885). He was stationed in the heart of White River Ute Territory. The boxes from his granddaughter included photos of him in his dress uniform–he was the company bugler–and a nine-page narrative (read “Five Years with Uncle Sam: A Retrospect” here) that he had written in his later years about his military experience.

In the document, he recalls one of their marching refrains:

We’re on the trail of Sitting Bull
And this is how we go:
Forty miles a day on beans and hay
In the Regular Army, Oh!

He writes not only of his encounters with the Indians and the early Mormon settlers, but also one important surprise encounter in the summer of 1883: President Chester A. Arthur. His regiment was stationed at the time in Yellowstone Park, and in his visit West, the President set up camp just on the other side of a corral fence.

“On the day of his arrival, I was out with my rifle hunting wild geese up along the Gardiner River,” he writes. “As I was going along the road or trail rather [sic], I saw a lone horseman approaching. As he drew nearer I recognized it was the President of the United States and Commander in Chief… As such, I knew he was entitled to the salute of ‘presentarms.’ When he approached nearer, I stepped to one side of the trail, halted, faced him and saluted by ‘presenting arms’. He recognized the salute, halted and engaged me in a few minutes of conversation.”

The president then joined his escort, “G” Troop of the 5th U.S. Cavalry, “a party of considerable numbers, [which] soon came riding by, and an inspiring sight that was.”

The material in the Armstrong boxes certainly merits not only inclusion in our collection, but further research. The thank you notes from the Kennedys were for a donation of Mr. Morand’s journals that he kept during his military service, so while that is not in our possession, we now know where to go for that information, which may be of interest to military historians as well as Morand descendants.

The Morand family had previously donated a number of items, and now we can start putting the dots together and could be an exhibition or part of an exhibition in the future. If nothing else, our Moran family genealogical file has been greatly enhanced by this chance donation.

The moral to this story is that even though the Butler County Historical Society relies upon the generosity of its donors for the funding to keep us in operation and we want to encourage legacy giving, we also want to encourage people to entrust us with their family documents. The genealogical value alone is significant, especially when people are identified in old photos, but there are also genuine slices of local history buried in attics and basements all over this county, and we hope that it eventually finds its way here.

History series to feature Prohibition stories and John Dillinger

Colligan History Project

This fall, the Michael J. Colligan History Project enters new territory with Public Enemies: Hamilton’s “Little Chicago” Era & Its Consequences, exploring the underworld of John Dillinger and his contemporaries from a time when Hamilton was legendary for its vice and criminality.

The series includes:

  • “Business & Ordinary Life in the 1920s and 1930s” with Susan Spellman, Associate Professor of History at Miami University, 7 p.m. February 24 at the Miami Hamilton Downtown Center.
  • “Hollywood Hoods: A Film Series,” hosted by True Crime Historian Richard O Jones.  “The Public Enemy,” 1931, March 3; “The Roaring Twenties,” 1939, March 10; “Dillinger,” 1945, March 17. All programs begin at 7 p.m. at the Miami Hamilton Downtown Center.
  • “John Dillinger and Depression-Era America,”  with Elliott J. Gorn, Joseph A. Gagliano Chair in American Urban History, Loyola University Chicago, Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer. 7:30 p.m. April 9, Wilks Conference Center.
  • “John Dillinger: A Dramatic Performance,” with Jeremy Meier, Department of Theater, Center for Performing Arts, Owens Community College, 7:30 p.m., April 21, Wilks Conference Center.
  • Hamilton’s ‘Little Chicago’ Era & Its Consequences,” by City of Hamilton Historian Jim Blount. 7:30 p.m. May 6.


Business partnership profoundly impacts lives

Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities

Although he’d wanted a job more than anything, 37-year-old Delbert Hensley had never had a permanent, full-time job – until this year.

“I’ve been doing temp services all my life,” he said. “You name it, I did it. For a person with a disability, the most you can usually get is a little $8-an-hour job and the work is so hard you can barely do it.”

But a profound change has happened this year in Delbert’s life, thanks to a new partnership between the Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities and ThyssenKrupp Billstein of America, a Hamilton-based manufacturer of high-end shock absorbers.

The partnership, dubbed “Project Team,” has given the Fairfield Township resident and five other people supported by the Butler County Board of DD a chance to work at full-time jobs that provide a “living wage.” That means each will get the shot at independence they’ve never known.

Read more….

Queen City Angels to partner with the Hamilton Mill

The Hamilton Mill

The Hamilton Mill and Queen City Angels are announcing a strategic partnership to provide complimentary services to the regional startup community. The relationship will provide a pipeline into the Queen City Angels investor network and will potentially offer Hamilton Mill clients expanded funding opportunities.

With the fresh approach that The Hamilton Mill is taking regarding an untapped market opportunity (advanced manufacturing, clean-technology, and water-based solutions), the partnership is a logical fit as it will provide a diversified portfolio of potential investment opportunities for Queen City Angels. In return, The Hamilton Mill will have access to Queen City Angels mentor members and other resources within the regional startup community in which Queen City is entrenched. Queen City Angels was recently recognized by CB Insights as one of the top two private seed-stage venture capital investors in the country.

This partnership adds to the growing list of organizations that The Hamilton Mill is collaborating with to develop its award winning program. “This is a strategic value-add partnership that we are providing to clients of The Hamilton Mill – connectivity with one of the top angel organizations in the United States. In addition, it is another piece in the puzzle for moving our clients through the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem to better ensure their success,” says Rahul Bawa, Board Chair of The Hamilton Mill. “We are extremely excited about cultivating this partnership for our clients and potential prospects considering The Hamilton Mill.”

The Cincinnati-based Queen City Angels (QCA) is a group of more than 50 experienced and accredited investors who provide funding, support, and guidance to early-stage growth companies. Including current and former entrepreneurs and business executives, QCA members draw on their operating and management experience to evaluate opportunities and provide on-going mentoring to young ventures with exceptional growth potential. Since 2000, QCA members have directly invested more than $42 million in more than 70 companies.

Scott Jacobs, Director at Queen City Angels, adds “Our partnership with The Hamilton Mill will further diversify our portfolio of investable companies, especially addressing the advanced manufacturing and clean-technology sector – a sector that has typically been underrepresented at venture firms throughout the region. We are excited to begin our work with The Hamilton Mill and some of their cutting-edge clients. This collaboration is one more way that we can help educate, develop, grow and support the region’s young, innovative companies and contribute to the overall success of the Southwestern Ohio entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

The Hamilton Mill relaunched in July of this year with a renewed focus on advanced manufacturing, clean-technology, and water-based solutions. Since the relaunch, the program has been recognized and awarded for its innovative approach by the Ohio Economic Development Association (Winner, Excellence in Economic Development Innovation) and the International Economic Development Council (Bronze, Excellence in Economic Development Award in the category of Sustainable and Green Development category for communities with a population between 25,000 to 200,000 from the IEDC). The organization was also recognized by the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) for its collaborative approach with the City of Hamilton.

To learn more about the Queen City Angels, please visit

For more information about The Hamilton Mill, please visit