Hamilton to rename North End fields entrance for longtime sheriff’s deputy Craig Mills

Butler County Sheriff's Deputy Craig Mills. BUTLER COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
Butler County Sheriff's Deputy Craig Mills. BUTLER COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE

Craig Mills was more than just a Butler County sheriff’s deputy. Since his death, many have come forward to say he was a person who made the city of Hamilton a better place to live.

That is why City Council voted last Wednesday to rename the entrance into the North End Baseball/Softball Complex for the man who not only was a star athlete but a mentor to countless children he coached. He was also a humanitarian, said friend and former colleague David Rumpler.

Rumpler said he’d hear story after story from Mills about serving warrants for the sheriff’s office and finding the “bad guy” wasn’t home, but there was a family who didn’t have anything.

“He’d call and tell me about it, and he’d go buy them some groceries. Not just once, not just twice but many times,” said Rumpler. “He never met a stranger. No matter what the cover of the book looked like, he never met a stranger.”

Mills, a former Triple-A baseball player drafted by the Detroit Tigers, died on Sept. 12 from complications from COVID-19. He was 57.

ExploreRemembering Robert Craig Mills

Rumpler and others signed a letter asking City Council to consider the renaming part of Joe Nuxhall Boulevard leading into the North End fields. Council took unanimous action Wednesday, which was not a legal name change, but an honorific change.

The seven signatories wrote that Mills wasn’t just a law enforcement officer, baseball or softball player, coach or fisherman. They said he was an “outstanding person,” and that it “was his heart and willingness to help others in the time of need” that made him that way.

Mayor Pat Moeller, who worked with Mills in the prosecutor’s office, requested the council act on the legislation at that meeting.

It’s expected City Council will have a sign ready to present at its next meeting, Oct. 27.

The honorific renaming of part of Joe Nuxhall Boulevard at the North End fields also brought on a discussion regarding renaming policies. There have been other requests recently to rename the park property.

Councilmember Kathleen Klink agreed with having a renaming policy because “we need to have consistency and continuity, and we need to be clear on what it is we’re talking about so we don’t cause confusion among our residents or among anyone else.”

Hamilton law director Letitia Block said she will have proposed legislation about a renaming policy regarding street names and city property at the next city council meeting, but she said while the city has historically not passed on costs associated with changing names of streets or city properties to citizens applying for the change, other jurisdictions have done that.

City Council didn’t seem interested in passing on costs to applicants when the act is honoring a person who has contributed to the city.

“I struggle with having the applicant pay for it because these are individuals who have obviously done something great for our city as being a role model,” said Moeller. “Then to ask them to pay for it, I kinda struggle with that a little bit. Maybe a lot.”

The city does offer a service where the public can request a tree be named for a loved one, which this proposed policy is different than that program.

Councilmember Carla Fiehrer requested the proposed legislation be vetted through the ordinance review process, and the council agreed.

“I appreciate you getting an ordinance together on it,” she told Block. “What stuck for me is to not start a precedent and have something in place, and because I think this should be vetted through ordinance review ... maybe that’s the opportunity to say what could fall under this, what does not fall under this.”

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