8 of 10 Butler County requests granted in state budget

Middletown’s Sorg Opera House renovation won’t get state money.

Eight projects throughout Butler County — estimated to collectively cost more than $45 million — are set to receive a total of $3.5 million in state capital funds, according to legislation introduced Tuesday in the Ohio Senate.

Thousands of requests were made among the 99 Ohio House members and 33 Ohio Senate members, but only a fraction were granted, including requests by Butler County’s four state lawmakers. Two of 10 local projects did not make the list to receive a piece of the proposed $2.6 billion in the capital budget bill, but that was expected local lawmakers said.

“There have been times that there had been no capital budget,” Rep. Tim Derickson, R-Hanover Twp., said, “and other times there’s been very few projects that were awarded money.”

The bill, known as Senate Bill 310, will provide improvements to community services, school facilities, roads, bridges, waterways and parks. Butler County's projects are proposed to make improvements in roads, education, community services and amenities, and social services.

Butler County projects set to receive state funding are:

  • $1 million for the second phase of Butler Tech's BioScience Center. This project will help construct an addition to the current bioscience building in West Chester Twp.
  • $1 million for road improvements at the Champion Mill Sports Complex development. The project would partially fund an effort to resurface and add traffic capacity to North B Street and reconfigure multiple intersections in the area. It's a joint project between the city of Hamilton and Champion LLC.
  • $500,000 for Voice of America Athletic Complex's field house building and grounds. The project will construct the field house building, a shaded area, concession areas, maintenance storage space and revenue generating meeting space at the West Chester Twp. park.
  • $400,000 for the Genesis Center of Excellence in Hamilton. This project will house an outpatient treatment program specializing in the treatment of addiction and psychiatric conditions.
  • $300,000 for the Boys & Girls Club of West Chester/Liberty building campaign. The funding will help in the construction of a 30,000-square-foot facility in West Chester Twp. that will serve students in grades two through high school.
  • $175,000 for the bike/pedestrian trail at Rentschler Forest. The funds will help pay for the construction of about 2.1 miles of bike and pedestrian trail at Rentschler Forest MetroPark in Fairfield Twp.
  • $75,000 for the Caroline Scott Harrison Memorial in Oxford. This funding will help pay for the installation of a bronze sculpture of Caroline Scott Harrison, develop a Caroline Scott Harrison mini-museum at the Oxford Community Arts Center, and hold the annual Women in Leadership Symposium.
  • $50,000 for the Trenton Community Park Amphitheater. The project will help pay for the construction costs for the amphitheater cover and attached building.

Renovation of the Sorg Opera House in Middletown and construction of a parking facility for the Dayton Street Urban Redevelopment project in Hamilton did not receive funding from the state.

The legislature generally approves a capital budget every two years in order to fund construction and maintenance projects around the state. In the 2014 capital budget, Butler County projects collectively received nearly $3.2 million.

Rep. Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton, said the Genesis project is a “much needed tool in the fight against addiction.”

“By placing detox, rehab, career training, job search, mental and physical health services, among other needed programs, we can have a one building house all the various aspects needed to get people clean, keep them clean and help them get back to work,” he said. “Heroin is killing our community and we need to utilize every tool available to fight it.”

Hamilton City Finance Director Tom Vanderhorst said the Champion project is “an all-in project for the city, from a capital (spending) standpoint.”

“It’s going to take a lot of capital improvements. There’s streets that need to be moved, and other improvements, parking and all that,” he said.

Butler Tech’s BioScience Center is only proposed to receive 20 percent of its $5 million request, but Butler Tech Interim Superintendent Laura Sage said the school appreciates the support by the county’s four state lawmakers.

“As with any school district, having funding in place is critical to begin development on major projects,” Sage said. “This is a significant investment for the future of our region’s adult workforce.”

Patti Alderson, a member of the board of directors for the Boys & Girls Club of West Chester/Liberty, was more than pleased at the prospect of $300,000 in state funding.

“It’s a huge deal,” said Alderson, who is also an official with the Ohio Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs. “We have a wonderful opportunity to do something for the next generation and there is no better investment than investing in kids. We are going to change lives with that money.”

Staff writers Mike Rutldege and Michael D. Clark contributed.

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