Nibert works in the mostly unused plant in the dark of night (it still serves as the control room for the city’s small hydroelectric plant along the Great Miami River, and is used to generate power sometimes in the summer). He has watched a colleague become repeatedly startled, like he has been, by unexplained movements.
The paranormal investigations started some months ago after a newly installed alarm system began going off at night, when the plant was empty, he said.
“The camera detects something, and it will take a picture and records (a video). Then it also sends an alert to the phone, that it’s recording. We were sitting here one night, and the phone just starts to ding and ding. And it’s like: Huh. I would bring up the recording, and it wouldn’t be anything there, so I laid (the phone) down, and it dinged again.”
He later started watching the recording live, and “all of a sudden, out of the right-hand corner, a little white ball comes drifting across,” he said. “Just shot across the screen. And then another one shot up from probably about the 8 o’clock position and went up the other way. I’m going, ‘I can’t believe I’m seeing this.’”
“That went on that night, and I had to turn the alert off on the phone, because it kept dinging so much,” he said. Nothing was recorded that night, “but as the week went on, finally we were starting to get the orbs or lights. I’ve convinced myself it was dust.”
He mentioned it to others, and eventually Austin Maynard — son of Kevin Maynard, the city’s director of public utilities — and his Creepy Cincinnati Paranormal Forensics, which have investigated locations in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, spent two nights at the plant. The organization has given three presentations about the happenings.
“We found a lot of interesting things,” Austin Maynard said. “The investigations, they lasted two separate nights. We used all kinds of equipment. We saw a lot of shadow figures, we saw a lot of ‘moving things,’ so to speak, and heard a lot of things that normally shouldn’t have been heard, like footsteps and voices, different things like that.”
“We captured those things and were able to share them at the public presentations,” said Maynard, whose group has investigated unexplained things at places like the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, the former prison where “The Shawshank Redemption” was filmed.
Maynard, a car salesman in Fairfield, said his group is interested in using scientific methods to prove or disprove spiritual presences. He concluded the moving lights on the power plant’s video were most likely dust.
“A lot of my answers to skeptics who say, ‘It could have been this, or it could have been that,’ my answer is, ‘Why don’t you come with us one time on an investigation, and see for yourself what we experience? And then you’ll know for sure,” he said. “Because a lot of people who are skeptics, my mindset is they have never had an experience — they’ve never been put in a situation like we have, and had to deal with something they can’t physically see.”
There’s a story, which Maynard said the Butler County Historical Society was unable to confirm, that a worker many decades ago was crushed beneath a pile of coal coming out of the chutes in the basement.
“I’ve done this for years,” Nibert said. “You’ll be sitting there, and it’s like somebody’s walking by. And just out of the corner of your eye, you would see a movement. You look, and there wouldn’t be anything there.”
Then he was at the plant one night with a colleague.
“He would jump, and look out the control-room windows, out toward the machines out there. He’d look, and then he’d sit back down again,” Nibert said. “A minute later, he’d jump and look again.”
Nibert said he watched him do that a couple times, before saying, “You see them too …You’re seeing the stuff out of the corner of your eye, that looks like somebody’s out on the floor.”
“We spent the rest of the evening trying to convince ourselves it was the lights or something being reflected through the building from the cars going down Third Street,” Nibert said. “But that was pretty funny, seeing him jump.”
Nibert’s ultimate conclusion: “I don’t know if there’s anything in there or not. I think if there is, they’re not there to hurt anybody. I tell you, whether you believe or not, when you walk in there in the middle of the night, and you’re there by yourself, you kind of go, “Hmmmm.”