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2 - The Harrison Press , Wednesday, August 29, 2012

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The Harrison Press , Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - 3


Efficiency measures keep city humming Joe Awad Harrison Press Editor


all 2012 a “nuts-and-bolts” year for the City of Harrison because overt economic growth has given way to money management practices that have kept the city from raising taxes and cutting services, said Mayor Joel McGuire. Although Cincinnati Test Systems looms on the horizon as a big strike for the city, the year primarily has been about putting in place tools for future massive progress, said McGuire. “The overarching economy on the state and federal level really kind of muted that growth for now, but we have made some improvements like our competitive effort to get CTS,” he said. “We have had more ribbon cuttings for small business openings downtown, and we have taken efficiency measures which allow us to provide the same level services for less money,” said McGuire. “Downtown hasn’t been that vibrant since I-74 came through.” An unexpected 48 percent hike in health insurance, drying up of state taxes, and a sluggish economy has triggered the city to increase efficiency by spending less. McGuire cites the city’s new competitive fuel policy as a major move that will

save about $25,000 yearly in gas costs. The city put the contract up for bid and the lowest bidder now supplies gas for all city vehicles. Unlike the old days, every purchase now requires two or three competitive bids. “Now it’s down to twenty bucks. They got to go out and get at least two or three competitive bids, and have a pretty good reason not to accept the lowest amount,” said McGuire. “Everything from boots and hammers, all the way to vehicle purchases, will shave off a pretty significant amount.” But don’t expect many vehicle purchases because the city, for about four years, has been leasing many vehicles, including cop cars. The advantage is lower maintenance costs and lower monthly payments, said McGuire. “The next thing we are going to look at is vehicle fleet maintenance. It will be the same thing that we did in terms of the gas. We will have one vendor, preferably in the city, that will give us a rate that is better than anyone else,” he said. Meanwhile, street repairs are on a higher scrutiny level. Residents’ input, analysis by the city’s consulting engineering company, street committee members and the mayor all play a role in what gets fixed first.

The city also has become adept at applying for and landing state and federal grants for street repairs. For instance, the initial phase of the city’s walking and biking path resulted in more federal funding for other projects because state and federal government encourages construction of recreation paths. “That has enabled us to increase the number of road projects we have. It is less out-of-pocket money,” said McGuire. In four years, the city has completed 17 road projects compared to five in the previous four years, he said. The mayor also points to the state’s performance audit, issued this past winter, as a blueprint for what might be necessary in the future. The audit contends

Harrison generally is paying more to employees than other comparable Ohio cities. Wages here for union employees remain frozen through 2014, which is fortuitous for the city. The unions recommended the freeze in the face of Ohio Senate Bill 5, which would have limited unions’ collective bargaining power. It failed landslide last November. “The state auditor was on us for allegedly paying our people too much. They wanted us to adjust those down right now. I compromised by saying we would


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4 - The Harrison Press , Wednesday, August 29, 2012 HARRISON, FROM PAGE 3 leave the freeze as is, and ride out this contract,” said McGuire. The city also earned two credit rating improvements from Moody’s Investors Service, which means it can borrow money for less. One improvement is for the overall city and the other for the wastewater treatment plant, he said. Other expense-cutting measures include the city’s choice of First Energy as its electric provider, which resulted in a 2 percent savings above a 5 percent savings the city already was receiving by selecting an alternative energy provider, said McGuire. “I think the prevailing theme in the

past six months has been the challenge, legally and fiscally. The health insurance hit us hard, and then there is this predatory crap,” he said. McGuire referred specifically to the Jehovah Witnesses’ attempt to build an assembly hall, with no tax base or job creation, in the Joint Economic Development District, shared by the city and Harrison Township. “Part of controlling the destiny of a community is having the guts to stand your ground with your zoning and economic development plan and goals,” he said. “On that one, I consider it a very predatory situation, so fending off those kinds of things is huge.”

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Harrison Mayor Joel McGuire, left, and Councilman Jim Robertson discuss city business during the city’s final outdoor concert for 2012, shortly after a council meeting. Despite a budget crunch, the city continues to host a variety of programs through its recreation commission.

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The Harrison Press , Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - 5

Jen Casey ... SPAW Pet Grooming

Staci Kovacs ... YOUnique Boutique

Cindy Loose ... Sew Much Fun

Evolution Nutrition and Fitness

Small businesses settle in historic district Sarah Minges Harrison Press Staff Reporter

Harrison’s historic downtown district between Sycamore and State streets experienced a mild surge in mom and pop businesses since last summer. The new businesses are evidence the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in the heart of the city. Here is a look at some of those businesses.

SPAW Pet Grooming

During their busy season, Jen Casey, owner of SPAW Pet Grooming, was making appointments a week in advance. Although business has slowed down, as this is grooming’s slow season, 12 to 13 dogs can still be scheduled on a good day, she said. Since opening in October, Casey has hired an additional full-time groomer. “I love being down here. I love the customers. I love the community,” said Casey, who formerly worked as a flight attendant before becoming a groomer. “I wanted everyone to be happy and me to be happy,” Casey said about starting her business. “I finally plunged in and I’m glad I did.” Casey said he looks forward to expanding her customer base and to participating in Ladies on the Loose in October. Her respect for community and local businesses is apparent. “Get a cupcake from YOUnique Boutique. They are wonderful,” she said.

YOUnique Boutique

YOUnique Boutique, which has been open for six weeks, is comprised of several

small businesses under one roof, said owner Staci Kovacs. Kovacs handpicked 20 artists from Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky to showcase in her store. She hopes to expand her business to include at least 40 artists. “They are the cream of the crop and the best in local arts and crafts,” said Kovacs. Zwick-Chicks cupcakes and cheesecakes is a Harrison business at the boutique. Event planner Annette Troescher, Harrison, also is on staff. After participating in craft shows for three years, Kovacs decided to find a business space. Fellow crafters, who also were looking to showcase their productions, add variety to the inventory at YOUnique Boutique. Kovacs strives to have “gifts for every occasion” present in the store. YOUnique Boutique will have a catered grand opening in September.

Sew Much Fun

The largest customer base for Sew Much Fun are individuals who sew and scrapbook according to owner Carole Stenger. The store also houses a gift shop with quilts, scrap booking pages and wood work added owner Vivian Beckmeyer. “We are grateful for everyone that comes in. Everyone says how nice it is and how they have been meaning to stop in,” said Beckmeyer. Jerry “Dean” Loos and Cindy Loos are also owners of the store. Stenger didn’t think the store would take off right away with the economy, but the customer base is growing with advertisement and word of mouth. Sew Much Fun also will participate in Ladies on the Loose in October. On Satur-

day, Dec. 1 a Christmas Open House will be held from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the store.

Evolution Nutrition and Fitness Studio

Sarah Heffron, owner of Evolution Nutrition and Fitness Studio, has a Master’s De-

gree in nutrition, giving her the background to assist clients in cholesterol reduction, blood sugar regulation, and to decrease unwanted weight.


6 - The Harrison Press , Wednesday, August 29, 2012 HISTORIC DISTRICT, FROM PAGE 5 “My passion is allowing a person to recognize their body’s potential for health and fitness. When they recognize that they have the potential and can have the coaching to help them along, their goals can be met,” she said. It’s really awesome to see the pride when someone can no longer need cholesterol medication or can fit into a size they thought they never could or run their first 5K. That is a great reward.” Evolution Nutrition and Fitness, which has been open since November, offers a variety of classes. The attendance per class has grown since its opening. On average, 5 to 15 people attend a class, said Heffron. Heffron also has hired two additional certified instructors and trainers to help with the client load. Class description and registration is available online at The first class is free.

Merchants Bank & Trust is all about customers, employees


erchants Bank & Trust, a regional landmark since 1929, increased its customer base this year by paying more attention to customers.

“A lot of larger banks are not serving customers as effectively as they should,” said President and CEO Don Patterson. Patterson said the appeal of Merchants Bank & Trust is customer service. “We walk the talk,” said Patterson about the individualized attention provided to people. When people call, they talk to people not an automated system. The bank now has six locations. On Monday, Sept. 17, the five-year-old office in Western Hills is relocating to a larger free-standing building with a drive-thru. Ground was broken in May at Harrison Avenue and Belclare Point in Green Township, directly

across from the Green Township Building in Dent. The new location will open this fall. About 30 people attended the ground breaking. Speakers included Patterson, and Green Township Trustee Tony Rosiello. Patterson drove a mini excavator to begin the work for the new free standing bank. The bank is being built by Cincinnati Commercial Contracting, LLC, a 32-year-old firm and authorized Butler Building dealer. Merchants Bank & Trust provides for its employees as well. Twice in the past three years, the bank was named as one of the top places to work in Greater Cincinnati by The Cincinnati Enquirer, said Patterson. The bank placed 12 of 40 businesses this year. “That is pretty good for a little Harrison bank,” said Patterson.


Water is hot subject in several ways this year Water has been a hot topic in Whitewater Township this year. It took five years, but the township finally has its own water district, making it the first municipality in Hamilton County to establish its own water district. The district, which will be operated in conjunction with the township sewer district, was formed with the intention to save residents money if water lines are installed. Being able to install water lines at the same time as sewer lines would save money and would prevent yards and streets from having to be excavated twice. Water lines will be installed only in areas where a majority of residents request municipal water, said Whitewater Township Trustee Hubert Brown. The water district will not dig wells to access water but will purchase water from CWW or Cleves Water Works. The water district will save residents money because the district could be awarded grants and funding discounts that a private company

such as Cincinnati Water Works might not qualify to receive. Those savings would be passed on to residents. After two residents inquired why a pond on their properties was not used as a water source to fight a neighbor’s garage fire in December 2011, trustees agreed to purchase a TurboDraft to fight fires in areas without a municipal water supply. The apparatus allows a fire engine or pumper to pull water from a pond, stream, cistern or swimming pool. The TurboDraft cost $2,502. Township Fire Chief Scott Schorsch told residents that while it may seem logical to pump water from nearby ponds, logistical problems are involved. The TurboDraft providers about 600 gpm from a maximum elevation difference of 20 feet over a distance of about 100 feet, said Schorsch. At a flat elevation, the apparatus can provide about 850 gpm over 100 feet, he said. The unit has a screen on top to prevent debris from clogging the pump. Water flows into the unit from the top so it will not pull in mud if it’s

sitting on the bottom of a pond or river. Schorsch said he will create a map avowing every possible water source in the township that can be used by the fire department. Using satellite maps on the Internet, potential water sources will be located and a firefighter will visit the properties to determine if they meet the necessary parameters where the TurboDraft can be used, he said. Meanwhile, Cleves Waterworks Department is installing water lines this summer to serve Elizabethtown residents. Cleves will install an eight-inch water line along Stephens Road, Wayne Street and Lawrenceburg Road, from Suspension Bridge Road to U.S. 50. The water line could serve about 200 customers. Hamilton County Public Health assistant commissioner Greg Kesterman said two reports issued by the OEPA indicate the groundwater in Elizabethtown has “potential to be or has been contaminated by external factors.” Whitewater Township trustees said they have never been notified by the health department

or OEPA that there is a problem with the water quality of wells in Elizabethtown. After water lines are installed, it will cost more to tap into the lines and the cost to tie in will increase each year. The deal being offered to residents will not be available once the lines are installed and pavement restored. Residents have until the end of summer to decide if they want to tap into the line to take advantage of the lower cost. To make the deal more attractive, Cleves is offering to finance the cost for a period of up to 30 years and the payment will be included in a customer’s monthly water bill. The average water usage bill is about $13 for 2,000 gallons of water. Customers will be charged about $3 for each additional 1,000 gallons. Each customer must pay a private plumber to run a line from the main line to their home. To help with that expense, a grant of up to $6,500 is available through the Hamilton County Development Corporation for those who qualify, said Schaefer. For information, call 946-8232.

The Harrison Press , Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - 7

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Merchants Bank & Trust President and CEO Don Patterson drives a mini excavator to begin the work for a new bank in Dent, which is scheduled to open this October. The bank is being built by Cincinnati Commercial Contracting, LLC, a 32-year-old firm and authorized Butler Building dealer.

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8 - The Harrison Press , Wednesday, August 29, 2012

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The Harrison Press , Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - 9

Progress Happening at Harrison Financial Center Roger Ford, owner of Harrison Financial Center, is happy to report some progressive happenings at his three businesses, which are located at 10403 Harrison Avenue in Harrison, Ohio. In June, Conservative Financial Solutions hosted their 3rd Annual Client Appreciation Event with record attendance of over 800 people. The popular appreciation event, titled “Screams & Dreams 2012” was held at Stricker’s Grove once again. Clients and their families enjoyed a delicious meal, miniature golf, plenty of exciting amusement rides, fun games, a competitive corn-hole tournament, and tons of free “country fair-type” food and drinks. In addition, over 50 various prizes were given away to those attending. Even though the heat was extreme, the attendance and good times prevailed, and many memories were made by all. In addition, for the first time ever, Conservative Financial Solutions chose to become a charity partner with Love INC for the client appreciation event. Our slogan of the “Screams & Dreams 2012” event was “let out some screams and help fulfill dreams!” We wanted our clients to be able to come have some fun and let out some screams and laughter at Stricker’s Grove, but we also wanted to try to help relieve basic needs for some local people in order to help them get back on their feet and achieve their dreams. The original goal was to fill Roger’s truck with non-perishable food items, toiletries, paper products, gift cards, and monetary donations to benefit Love INC and its cause. Conservative Financial Solutions and Harrison Tax Advisors reached out to their clients and families to ask that everyone donate to this special Love INC drive during our appreciation event. Our fabulous clients did not disappoint, and they generously donated so many items that we were able to fill two trucks instead! Likewise, several monetary donations were given, and a $300 check as well as a gift card were presented to Jeanna Winterhalter, Executive Director of Love INC. Jeanna was completely thrilled and surprised by the huge success of this event and wanted to thank everyone for their generosity. Love INC (Love In the Name of Christ) has been “helping people in need in the Harrison Community since 1997”. Their mission “is to mobilize the Body of Christ to transform lives and communities in the name of Christ.” Love INC of Harrison has partnered with an array of local churches and community agencies and has served nearly 1,000 needy families in the Southwest Local School District area in one year alone. Roger was so happy that he could team up with all his clients and really help this worthwhile organization. He also expresses his utmost thanks to his thoughtful and giving clients and their families for making this such a big success. Construction is also happening here at the Harrison Financial Center. Currently, Harrison Tax Advisors (HTA) and Conservative Financial Solutions (CFS) are both located on the upper level as well as Siefferman Insurance. HTA has been experiencing growth, so we are finishing some construction on the lower level in order to internally move HTA there in the near future. Darren Bowman, CPA, at Harrison Tax Advisors is excited about the new office area and extra room he will gain. Likewise, Conservative Financial Solutions has been growing, and with the HTA move downstairs, CFS will regain some much needed space on the upper level. It will be a “win-win situation” for both businesses as well as a convenience for our clients. Roger Ford and everyone at Harrison Financial Center are extremely grateful for all these progressive changes, and they look forward to continuing to serve their clients in the local Harrison area for years to come.

10 - The Harrison Press , Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Neighborhood Health Care Inc. offers adult medicine services at Harrison Health Center HARRISON, OHIO (August 16, 2012) - Neighborhood Health Care, Inc., a not for profit organization with five health centers and four school-based health sites throughout Cincinnati and Harrison, Ohio, is excited to announce adding Adult Medicine services at Harrison Health Center. Harrison Health Center (the former Babies Milk Fund), is located at 10400 New Haven Road, Harrison, Ohio 45030. Neighborhood Health Care, Inc. is dedicated to providing primary health care services to all people in its immediate service area and those in contractual service areas. Neighborhood Health Care, Inc. advocates for comprehensive primary health care and services for people of all ages, races and income levels, whether underinsured or uninsured. Neighbor-

hood Health Care Inc. accepts most insurances, and offers a sliding fee scale based on income to help improve access to health services. Neighborhood Health Care, Inc. encourages anyone seeking health care services to make an appointment, regardless of ability to pay. No one is denied access to health services with Neighborhood Health Care, Inc. Neighborhood Health Care, Inc. is welcoming new patients at Harrison Health Center, 10400 New Haven Road, Harrison, Ohio 45030. Health services at the Harrison location include Adult Medicine, Pediatric Medicine, and OB/Gyn services. Please call 513-367-5888 today to make an appointment.

Neighborhood Health Care, Inc. advocates for comprehensive primary health care and services for people of all ages, races and income levels, whether underinsured or uninsured. It accepts most insurances, and offers a sliding fee scale based on income to help improve access to health services.


New civic center’s ready for action The Harrison Township Civic Center is officially open for business and available for rental or use by non-profit groups. The former Baptist church, 9940 New Haven Road, was purchased by the township in May 2011 at a reduced price of $144,000. The 2,888-square-foot building and three acres has been appraised by Hamilton County for $267,000. It had been vacant for about two years before the township took ownership. The township installed a geothermal heat

pump system, updated wiring and plumbing, improved the exterior brick facade and resurfaced the parking lot. Initial plans included installing a soccer field, playground and other recreation facilities. Hamilton County zoning code, however, prohibits those uses on the property unless additional land is purchased which trustees are considering. The official grand opening was Saturday, Aug. 25, said township trustee Tom Losekamp.

The civic center can be used by non-profit organizations with 501c3 status at no cost. Township residents can rent the building for $200 for four hours. Price includes a $50 refundable deposit. Non-residents can rent the civic center for $250, including the $50 deposit. Additional rental time is $50 per hour for residents and non-residents, said Losekamp. The facility holds 123 people. It includes restrooms, kitchen with refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker, 15 tables and 120 chairs, said Losekamp.

The building has Internet access, a public address system and a video projection system. If alcohol is served, renters must provide proof of liability insurance and security, said Losekamp. The building is locked when not in use and public restrooms are not available, he said. To rent the civic center, call 202-0238, or contact a township trustee.


The Harrison Press , Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - 11

$120,000 grant aimed at making Crosby safer Sleepy Crosby Township has not had much going on this year. Perhaps the largest stride forward was a $120,000 Homeland Security grant received by the fire department to purchase new equipment. After multiple attempts, Crosby Township Fire Department received a $120,821 Federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant; the first grant of this type every awarded to the township. The department used the money to purchase 21 Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus and related equipment, said Fire Chief Bruce Downard. The equipment replaced used SCBAs purchased about four years ago from fire departments in Elmwood Place, Bright and Springfield Township.

Most of the units were about 12 years old at the time, he said. When the previous units were purchased, they were compliant with safety standards but the standards changed in 2007. It is permissible to use non-compliant equipment but when replaced, new equipment must meet current standards, said Downard. Features on the new SCBAs include a lighted display inside, alerting firefighters as to how much oxygen is left in their tanks. The old SCBAs had a gauge on the outside, causing firefighters to lose precious time to check the status of remaining oxygen. Each new SCBA will have a 45-minute tank instead of the current 25-minute tank.

The new SCBAs cost about $4,350 each. The department purchased 21 spare bottles of oxygen at $595 per bottle. Each firefighter will have a customized faceplate to use with the SCBAs, and the faceplates will be stored with the firefighter’s turnout gear for quick access. Twenty-one faceplates were included in the cost of the SCBAs and the department purchased another nine at a cost of $511 apiece so every department firefighter has a faceplate A radio amplifier was purchased for each faceplate at a cost of about $170 to allow firefighters to communicate more effectively, said Downard. The department purchased two Rapid Intervention Team kits at a cost of $3,500

each. The kits contain equipment used to rescue firefighters who find themselves in distress while fighting a fire, said Downard.

Overall growth

According to Crosby Township Zoning Inspector Rick Espel, four permits have been issued for new home construction in the past year. Most permits have been issued for remodeling projects, he said. A Crosby Road homeowner received a variance in July to open a landscaping business at his residence, said Espel. Butt Shack BBQ Grill and Sports Bar, 6987 River Road, New Baltimore, opened its doors this year, replacing the Oaxaca Sports Cafe.


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12 - The Harrison Press , Wednesday, August 29, 2012

2012 Harrison Progress  

2012 Harrison Progress