Middletown posting digital messages for the world

As the world drives past Middletown on Interstate 75, city leaders hope to inform motorists about festivals and other events happening in the city, whose downtown is five miles from the interstate’s Ohio 122 interchange.

The city in December agreed to spend up to $75,000 for its part of what City Manager Doug Adkins described as a $450,000, high-definition digital billboard now operating near the interstate. The message board was upgraded from an old-style billboard.

“We will be partnering with Atrium to advertise city events as we go forward,” Adkins told city and school officials last month. “Also, the clock tower, at the corner of Union and 122, we will have community events on that.”

Anita Scott Jones, hospital relations manager for Atrium Medical Center who at the time was on Middletown City Council, abstained from council’s 4-0 vote in December because she was employed by the health-care company. The city and hospital are cooperating with messages on the clock tower’s digital panels.

The clock-tower message boards are “consistent with the East End master plan,” Jones said. “They wanted to do something to beautify those corners.”

The cooperation came about when Atrium had to get approval from the city’s planning commission and somebody during one of those meetings suggested the signs could be a way to help promote events in the city, Jones said.

“Looking at the fact we were partnering with the city on a number of initiatives, it made sense to do a collaborative effort with that,” she said.

Robert Knight of Hamilton recently suggested that city government should put up billboards along I-75 advertising the great taste of its award-winning water, and sell it at stores along the interstate: “It may do a lot for Hamilton,” he said.

Adkins in December wrote council that the city can “use 5 percent of the billboard timing (about one hour per day) to place municipal advertising on the refurbished electronic billboard.” Adkins wrote. “The city advertising could be general advertising to visit the mall or downtown or the city in general, but would also be used to advertise upcoming events in Middletown that would be a regional draw such as Balloonfest or the Color Run, etc.”

Staff writer Ed Richter contributed to this report.

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