I-71 exit to Columbia Twp. business district to close

Lemon was at a public meeting hosted by the Ohio Department of Transportation to provide input on its plans to add a lane to northbound I-71 and add sound-barrier walls when he found out that the state also plans to close the Ridge Road north exit ramp off I-71 and build a new exit directly to Kennedy Avenue.

Lemon fired off an email to Ohio Department of Transportation officials saying that he told a state transportation official at the meeting that, “I did not see how this project could be considered an economic-development project for Columbia Township when the proposal was eliminating the very exit that led traffic into the heart of the Columbia Township business district and redirected it away from the business district to a traffic light on Kennedy Avenue where any economic-development opportunity is limited.”

“In fact, I expressed concern that it could retard economic development,” Lemon wrote.

“I believe businesses impacted by this change should have been consulted long ago, along with township officials.”

Ohio Department of Transportation officials were not immediately available for comment.

Lemon said state transportation officials say they are changing the exits for safety reasons, have the funding and are moving ahead with the project, although construction is not scheduled to begin until 2018.

But Ohio Department of Transportation officials have agreed to discuss the issue with Columbia Township officials and businesses in the Ridge Road and Highland Avenue area at a meeting  Aug. 8.

Lemon intends to lobby the state at the meeting to reopen the link from Duck Creek Road to the north lanes of Ridge Road. It now dead ends.

“If you take the new Kennedy Avenue exit and you want to get back to, say, Burlington Coat Factory, or Jack in the Box or Wendy’s, you have to turn left onto Kennedy, and then left onto Highland and then left onto Ridge,” Lemon said.

“Having driven that many times, I think you know that’s a rather arduous way to get there.

“If they were to reopen Duck Creek, then you could turn right on Kennedy, go down to Duck Creek and turn right to Ridge and then right on up (to the business district),” Lemon said.


View The Crime Map – Raids Online

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 RAIDS Online helps the public get a better idea of the crime activity in their area so they can make more informed decisions about how to stay safe.

Reduce crime and improve public safety. BAIR Analytics’s public crime map, RAIDS Online, connects law enforcement with the community to reduce crime and improve public safety. Crime mapping helps the public get a better idea of the crime activity in their area so they can make more informed decisions about how to stay safe.

RAIDS Online goes beyond crime mapping by automatically alerting the public about recent crime activity and by improving communication between the public and law enforcement through anonymous tips. RAIDS Online empowers the public to make better decisions about crime by putting the same technology used by law enforcement to analyze and interpret crime activity into the hands of the public.

Sources of information

RAIDS Online compiles crime data and other information from law enforcement agencies to make it easier for the public to stay informed about crime. Data in RAIDS Online is provided directly from each law enforcement agency. Because RAIDS Online is just the public side of a much more robust crime data sharing and analysis system for law enforcement, we take every step to ensure that the data is of the highest quality and accuracy. To uphold these quality standards, BAIR works with each agency to set up an automated feed of the data from their crime database into the RAIDS database. Receiving the data directly from each law enforcement agency ensures that the data is always up to date, accurate and complete.

You can see the source of the crime data for any incident by clicking on the incident on the map. The information window lists the “Agency” that provided the information. The Metadata tab also lists the source and links to each source’s web page for the incidents that are currently in view.

How does it work?

Law enforcement agencies keep detailed records about each incident that occurs in their jurisdiction. When an incident happens, the officer that responded to the incident writes a detailed report with information about the event including the location, people involved, related vehicles and other useful information. This information is stored in large, secure databases within each law enforcement agency. Between departments, these databases can vary in structure and complexity, and even the data itself can follow different standards to describe the event. This can make it difficult for two neighboring cities to share crime data and benefit from being able to analyze events and offenders that cross city boundaries. BAIR’s regional data sharing products help centralize and standardize this information into a national database of crime to improve regional data sharing and analysis. RAIDS Online takes this data, cleans it to protect victim privacy, and displays it to the public so citizens can be aware of the events that occur in their area and take action to stay safe.

How can your city participate?

BAIR Analytics offers RAIDS Online as a way to give back to the community. As former (and current) analysts and officers, BAIR hopes to help law enforcement and defense use cutting edge analytics to protect and serve the community. Providing crime mapping and tips to the community helps law enforcement keep the public aware of crime, it builds trust with their citizens and it improves communication between the public and law enforcement. By allowing law enforcement to provide these services to the public at no cost through RAIDS Online, BAIR reduces any barriers for law enforcement to use public crime mapping as a crime reduction strategy.

Don’t see crime data in your city?

Contact the Public Information Officer in your city to request that they start sharing crime information with you through RAIDS Online. It’s absolutely free for your city to participate, so there’s no reason for them not to join RAIDS Online.

These Greater Cincinnati communities rank among best places to live

A new study ranks 18 Greater Cincinnati neighborhoods among the 25 best places to live in their respective states.

The new rankings are from the national website Niche, which collects data based on crime, public schools, cost of living, job opportunities and local amenities. Data comes from the U.S. Census, FBI and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among other sources.

Eleven Southwest Ohio communities rank in the top 25 places to live in the Buckeye State:

No. 3: Deerfield Township

No. 4: Wyoming

No. 8: Mariemont

No. 12: Blue Ash

No. 14: Mason

No. 18: Symmes Township

No. 19: Madeira

No. 21: Anderson Township

No. 22: Columbia Township

No. 23: Montgomery

No. 24: Landen

Seven Northern Kentucky communities rank among the top 25 in the Bluegrass State:

No. 3: Fort Mitchell

No. 11: Fort Thomas

No. 13: Southgate

No. 14: Oakbrook (Boone County)

No. 18: Park Hills

No. 20: Florence

No. 25: Union

Two Franklin County communities, Upper Arlington and Grandview Heights, were rated the top places to live in Ohio. Los Alamos, N.M., was rated the best place to live in the U.S. Devon, Pa., was rated the nation’s best place to raise a family.

Press Release – Ohio Treasurer’s Office on OhioCheckbook.com

NORWOOD – Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel announced today the launch of the Norwood City Schools and Columbia Township online checkbooks on OhioCheckbook.com.  In December 2014, Treasurer Mandel launched OhioCheckbook.com, which sets a new national standard for government transparency and for the first time in Ohio history puts all state spending information on the internet.  OhioCheckbook.com recently earned Ohio the number one government transparency ranking in the country for a second year in a row.

The Ohio Treasurer’s office was joined at today’s announcement by Norwood City Schools Superintendent Robert Amodio and Columbia Township Trustees Chris Kritikos and Susan Hughes.  Norwood City Schools is the sixth school district in Hamilton County to post their spending on OhioCheckbook.com, and Columbia Township is the third township in Hamilton County to post their spending on OhioCheckbook.com.

The following is a breakdown of today’s local government sites:

  • Norwood City Schools’ online checkbook includes over 100,000 individual transactions that represent more than $178 million of total spending over the past four Fiscal Years.
  • Columbia Township’s online checkbook includes over 9,400 individual transactions that represent more than $9.4 million of total spending over the past four years.

“I believe the people of Hamilton County have a right to know how their tax money is being spent, and I applaud local leaders here for partnering with my office to post the finances on OhioCheckbook.com,” said Treasurer Mandel.  “By posting local government spending online, we are empowering taxpayers across Ohio to hold public officials accountable.”

“We are very excited to implement the checkbook initiative,” said Norwood City Schools Superintendent Robert Amodio.  “We feel that it creates even further fiscal transparency that will allow our local resident taxpayers a further ability to view our fiscal conservancy with their tax money. As a district we believe that this initiative is in line with our commitment that we are true partners with our residents as we seek to enhance the fiscal trust that they have placed in us.”

“While some will say this is about transparency in local government, we believe users of OhioCheckbook.com will discover the determined efforts of officials and staff, year after year, to provide the best services possible to constituents at an effective cost,” said Columbia Township Administrator Michael Lemon.

On April 7, 2015 Treasurer Mandel sent a letter to 18,062 local government and school officials representing 3,962 local governments throughout the state calling on them to place their checkbook level data on OhioCheckbook.com and extending an invitation to partner with his office at no cost to local governments.  These local governments include cities, counties, townships, schools, library districts and other special districts.

A large coalition of statewide and local government organizations have expressed support for OhioCheckbook.com and local government transparency, including:

  • Ohio Municipal League
  • Ohio Township Association
  • Ohio Association of School Business Officials
  • Buckeye Association of School Administrators
  • County Commissioner Association of Ohio
  • County Auditor Association of Ohio
  • Ohio Newspaper Association
  • Ohio Society of CPAs
  • Buckeye Institute
  • Common Cause Ohio

OhioCheckbook.com was launched on December 2, 2014, marking the first time in Ohio history when citizens could actually see every expenditure in state government.  Since its launch, OhioCheckbook.com has received overwhelming support from newspapers and groups across the state and, as of June 8, 2016 there have been more than 551,000 total searches on the site.

OhioCheckbook.com displays more than $529 billion in spending over the past eight years, including more than 146 million transactions.  The website includes cutting-edge features such as:

  • “Google-style” contextual search capabilities, to allow users to sort by keyword, department, category or vendor;
  • Fully dynamic interactive charts to drill down on state spending;
  • Functionality to compare state spending year-over-year or among agencies; and,
  • Capability to share charts or checks with social media networks, and direct contact for agency fiscal offices.

In March 2015, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) released their annual “Following the Money 2015” report and Treasurer Mandel earned Ohio the number one transparency ranking in the country for providing online access to government spending data.  Ohio was prominently featured in the report after climbing from 46th to 1st in spending transparency as a result of Treasurer Mandel’s release of OhioCheckbook.com.  Due to the launch of OhioCheckbook.com, Ohio received a perfect score of 100 points this year – the highest score in the history of the U.S. PIRG transparency rankings.

In April 2016, U.S. PIRG announced that Treasurer Mandel earned Ohio the number one government transparency ranking in the country for the second consecutive year in a row.  Due to the launch of OhioCheckbook.com, Ohio again received the highest perfect score of 100 points this year – marking the second time in two years Ohio received the highest possible score in the history of the U.S. PIRG transparency rankings.

The Treasurer’s office is partnering with OpenGov, a leading Silicon Valley government technology company, to provide residents of Ohio the ability to view and search local government expenditures in a user-friendly, digital format.  “Ohio is setting the standard for financial transparency on an unprecedented scale. We are excited to partner with the Treasurer’s office to bring world-class technology to communities large and small across the state,” said Zachary Bookman, CEO of OpenGov.

For more information or to view your local government website, visit the Local Government option on OhioCheckbook.com or click on:

  • NorwoodCitySchools.OhioCheckbook.com;
  • ColumbiaTownshipHamilton.OhioCheckbook.com.

Neighbors Opposing Pipeline Extension


What are they thinking?

Duke Energy is planning to build a huge gas transmission line right through our neighborhoods.  This is not like the distribution lines under our streets, or the lines that bring power to our homes.  This is an enormous high pressure, high capacity pipeline that would be built next to schools, daycare centers, places of worship, and even through people’s yards.

No one would even consider running a high speed expressway right down the middle of a residential street or right next to a school playground, and then allowing tanker trucks trucks carrying full loads of hazardous chemicals to drive up and down the street, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  That would be unthinkable.  Have you seen how fast truckers go on the expressway?  What if the driver lost control of his vehicle, or what if someone cut him off while switching lanes and he couldn’t stop?  Your kids could be out in the yard playing!  Can you imagine?

Well, for many us in the Cincinnati area, this has become a very real possibility.  Duke Energy is not building an expressway for trucks next to our schools and houses.  Duke Energy is building an expressway for natural gas.  This pipeline contains 720 psi’s in a single inch cube.  Multiply that by the area of the pipe and you get a 507,000 psi catastrophic accident waiting to happen.

Want to learn more about Duke’s Central Corridor Pipeline Extension project in Cincinnati, and what you can do to stop it? Here’s everything you need to know.

Concerned Neighbors – This is a quickly evolving situation, so please forgive us if information is incomplete.  We are madly scrambling to keep you informed.  Check back often and LIKE us on Facebook to stay connected.

This Greater Cincinnati Remke Store is Closing

Remke Markets is closing one of its Greater Cincinnati stores.Remke Markets won’t renew its lease at its Pleasant Ridge store location in order to focus its efforts on remodeling and upgrading more viable store locations, it announced Monday.

The Erlanger-based independent grocer won’t renew its lease at its Pleasant Ridge store location in order to focus its efforts on remodeling and upgrading more viable store locations, it announced Monday.

The store at 3240 Highland Ave. is expected to close on Saturday, June 25, following the liquidation of its inventory. That process is expected to begin on May 31.

“It’s always a difficult decision to close a store, as we are committed to our customers and associates across all of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky,” Remke president Matthew Remke said in a statement. “We will continue delivering on our promise of a local, neighborhood grocery with exceptional service in a convenient location. There is definitely customer demand for Remke’s neighborhood shopping experience in this very competitive grocery market. I’m genuinely excited about the good things on the horizon as we remain steadfast in our focus on our loyal customers and valued associates.”

The Pleasant Ridge store employs 54 associates. They will have the opportunity to explore available positions at other Remke Markets locations, and eligible employees who don’t take those positions will receive outplacement support and severance benefits.

Remke closed one of its stores on the West Side last summer while downsizing the other.

Remke, a family company that launched in 1897, still operates 10 markets in Greater Cincinnati and is investing $500,000 to $750,000 on enhancements at its Skytop and Taylor Mill locations while also investing in new e-commerce opportunities.

JEDZ performs well for Columbia Township

finding your wayA new economic-development tool in Columbia Township is performing well.

Township officials had projected a new business tax connected to its joint economic-development zone with Fairfax would produce about $706,000 annually for economic-development efforts, and it produced $760,000 in 2015.

“The JEDZ performance is critical to the delivery of services and economic development aid and assistance provided to current and new businesses considering Columbia Township,” township Administrator Michael Lemon said.

“It is generating new opportunities that will help assure the viability and sustainability of our community for the future.

“It played a significant role in bringing the new CBT headquarters to the township last year and we hope to use it to bring additional businesses through creative partnerships as we move forward,” Lemon said.

The CBT Co. is moving its headquarters from downtown Cincinnati to the former Kmart site at 5500 Ridge Ave. in Columbia Township – and bringing 120 employees with it.

Columbia Township agreed to issue up to $2.85 million in revenue bonds to help CBT build a 95,000-square-foot facility with 55,000 square feet of warehouse space and 40,000 square feet of office space.

CBT, which supplies automation, power transmission, electrical, belting and pneumatic products and services, will pay the township back over the next 30 years in lieu of paying property taxes.

Columbia Township expects to receive about $50,000 for each of the first 10 years from CBT and $100,000 a year after that, but the sums are dependent upon the number of jobs created and their salaries.

CBT President James Stahl Jr. has said the company was disappointed that Cincinnati didn’t do anything to help keep it in that city.

With the approval of Columbia Township voters in November 2013, the township and Fairfax forged one of the last joint economic-development zone partnerships before the state outlawed the zones.

In April 2014 the partners began assessing a 1 percent income tax on people who work and businesses that operate in Columbia Township commercial areas on Wooster Pike, on Plainville Road and at Ridge and Highland avenues.

Fairfax, which is a village, gets a cut of the proceeds for collecting the income tax, which Ohio law says townships cannot do.

Meanwhile, the Columbia Township Board of Trustees has given 3 percent raises to its five full-time employees and one part-time employee.

“The increase was based upon cost-of-living and a wage survey of Center for Local Government members for similar positions and merit,” Lemon said.

CBT president: City didn’t do enough to help us

cbt presidentConstruction is continuing on the new headquarters for CBT in Columbia Township as the company plans to move at least 120 jobs from Cincinnati later this year.

And with CBT’s move, questions are emerging about whether the city did enough to convince the company to stay within its borders.

The move is a big deal for Columbia Township, which stands to gain about $100,000 a year in earnings taxes from the jobs, administrator Michael Lemon said. That money equals about 2.4 percent of the township’s annual budget.

“It’s a very well-respected company,” Lemon said. “We’re very excited about them coming. They’ve got extraordinary owners and leaders. They’ve been an absolute delight to work with.”

CBT wants to open the new operation at 5500 Ridge Ave. by July 1, Lemon said. The company, which was founded in 1921, is currently in Queensgate at 737 W. Sixth St.

City Councilman Chris Seelbach said Friday he has asked Mayor John Cranley’s administration to provide details on the circumstances that led to the company’s exit from Cincinnati.

Seelbach said he sent a congratulatory message to the company learning it received an award. In a handwritten reply sent in November, CBT President James Stahl Jr. hinted the city staff members didn’t do enough to help keep it in Cincinnati.

“CBT approached the city of Cincinnati about helping us stay in Queensgate where he have been since 1988,” the letter said. “We were told by several individuals there is nothing the city could do and wished us good luck. Obviously we were shocked and disappointed.”

Stahl couldn’t be reached for further comment Friday. City officials with knowledge about CBT’s plans couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.

Seelbach said working to get information isn’t designed to be a witch hunt, but to better understand what happened.

Columbia Township roundabout dead

A plan for a $2 million-plus traffic roundabout in Columbia Township some five years in the making is dead at the hands of businesses and residents.

The Columbia Township Board of Trustees had agreed to contribute $446,000 in matching funds to a $1.76 million grant from the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments for a roundabout at the intersection of Bramble Avenue and Plainville Road on the township line with the Cincinnati neighborhood of Madisonville.

A roundabout is a circular intersection in which vehicles move continuously in one direction around a central island.

Columbia Township had hoped a landscaped roundabout in the Bramble Avenue-Plainville Road area would make traffic flow more easily and encourage economic-development there.

Then came a recent public meeting.

“The businesses on Plainville Road and Bramble Avenue and the residents in the area of the proposed roundabout no longer support the path included in our comprehensive plan to help improve the business district and want to see something different,” Columbia Township Administrator Mike Lemon said.

“We do not want to force a project on the businesses and people that they do not want.”

Columbia Township will update its comprehensive plan next year, Lemon said.

“The township will seek the community’s thoughts and input regarding the future of the Madison Place/Plainville Road area as well as the rest of the township,” Lemon said.

“It will reflect the changing environment and new direction from the input of residents and businesses.”

OKI awarded Columbia Township the roundabout grant in 2010, when the township hoped to build it where Plainville and Madisonville roads meet Murray Avenue at the border of Columbia Township and Mariemont.

When the township was unable to sell Mariemont on the idea – despite the fact that Mariemont would not have to ante up matching funds – Columbia Township found Cincinnati a willing partner for a roundabout in the Bramble Avenue-Plainville Road area.

The estimated cost of the project was $2.2 million, which included right-of-way acquisition, geotechnical assessments, environmental review, storm drainage, lighting, utility relocation and construction.

Columbia Township had not expected construction to begin before 2017.

“(Scrapping the roundabout) is a win for the residents, saving $500,000 and a small business and maybe another,” said resident Carl Jones, who opposed the roundabout and who recently failed to win a seat on the Columbia Township Board of Trustees.

On Nov. 3, Chris Kritikos bested Jones by a vote of 692 to 543 for a four-year term on the board of trustees beginning in January.

It’s the seat now held by trustee President Stephen Langenkamp, who did not seeking re-election.

Kritikos will join incumbents Vice President Susan Hughes and trustee David Kubicki, whose terms run through 2017, on the Columbia Township Board of Trustees.

Earlier this year, Jones also spoke out against a 5.1-mill waste levy that Columbia Township voters approved by a vote of 857 to 503 on Nov. 3.

Estimates are that it will annually cost township homeowners $178.50 per $100,000 valuation of their homes and generate just above $614,000 a year for Columbia Township.


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