State funds called ‘critical’ for Boys & Girls Clubs of Hamilton reno project

State reps earmark $225,000 for local project, but Senate not expected to vote for weeks.

Credit: Provided

Credit: Provided

The one-time funding bill now being considered by the Ohio Senate would have big impacts on Butler County, including Hamilton youth.

Specifically, the children who rely on the two locations of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Hamilton.

Tommy John, the organization’s executive director, said the funding is “critical” to revitalize the gymnasiums at their East Avenue and Grand Boulevard locations. Because, he said, it’s more than just a complete revitalization of a pair of gyms.

“All of it is comprehensive,” he said. “There’s a direct correlation between teenagers having workforce readiness and a new gym.”

That gym, especially the agency’s athletic programs, like the basketball league, attracts kids who need that workforce readiness service, as well as character development, to be involved in the organization. The better the facility, the more kids they can attract and serve.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Hamilton were built by local donors in the 1960s and ‘70s. Thousands of kids have traveled through the two facilities, which still have wooden backboards and hand cranks to lower and raise them.

Credit: Provided

Credit: Provided

The $225,000 earmarked in the $350 million one-time appropriation outlined in Sub. House Bill 2, which passed the Ohio House by a 75-19 vote on Feb. 7. Ohio Rep. Sara Carruthers, R-Hamilton, said she pushed for the one-time funding of projects “as a result of the state’s unprecedented financial position. This is a good thing because it represents $350 million in investment in education, the economy and infrastructure in the state.”

Hamilton Vice Mayor Eric Pohlman is an alum of the Grand Boulevard club and recalled playing on the same basketball court in the 1970s — when it was new — that exists today.

“We need to get the boys and girls to the club to interact with each other, get away from the cellphones,” he said. “It got me involved with other people. I got to meet friends, and the same thing with Lindenwald Park, when I grew up in Lindenwald. It was a place to go meet new people, and do activities instead of sitting around bored around the house.”

The gym renovations would see new paint, floors and basketball hoops, and John said he’s thankful for the House’s support.

The Ohio Senate will take up the bill, but it has not yet been assigned to a committee. It’s likely to be assigned to the Senate Finance Committee (it unanimously passed the Ohio House Finance Committee). The Senate Finance Committee isn’t expected to meet until after the March primary.

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