Hello, Hamilton County

  E-News for Hamilton County Citizens and Employees

March 22,2001

  Quote of the Week:  "If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."                          - General George S. Patton

Human Services Director Don Thomas to retire

Hamilton County Human Service Director Don Thomas announced today his intention to retire no later than August 31, 2001.  Mr. Thomas is retiring after more than 30 years of public service and will be relocating with his family to Florida, where his wife will join the faculty of the University of Florida.  Mr. Thomas intends to work as a private consultant assisting government in the Human Services area.

Don Thomas joined Hamilton County as the Director of the Department of Human Services on December 7, 1987.  He has successfully led the County through the challenges of Welfare Reform.  Under Thomas’ leadership, Hamilton County has been recognized a national leader in welfare reform, highlighted by a 69% decline in welfare rolls from 1992 to 1999.  During his tenure, County Commissioners assigned Thomas additional responsibilities such as Child Support Enforcement, Tuberculosis (TB) Control, and Workforce Development.

Mr. Thomas stated, "It has been my privilege to serve the citizens of Hamilton County and to work with the County Commissioners, County Administrator David Krings, the agency staff, and social service community.  I am certain that I will miss each of them."

"Don Thomas has been a key player in the County efforts to assist our low income residents, to protect our children, to maintain overall County government fiscal stability, and to reduce the cost to local taxpayers," said County Administrator David Krings.  "Don Thomas’ efforts were critical to the significant County success in all these areas."

Mr. Krings stated that he anticipates that well qualified local and national candidates will be considered after a national search.  It is anticipated that a replacement will be identified prior to Mr. Thomas’ August 31, 2001 retirement date.



A New Look Cinergy Field getting ready to greet Baseball Fans

With opening day less than two weeks away, crews have been working diligently to complete the reconfiguration of Cinergy Field.  Some the tasks that are underway to make the stadium "baseball ready" include:
bulletCompletion of the new outfield wall (the new foul poles went in last week)
bulletInstallation of the new warning track
bulletCompletion of the new bull pens
bulletPressure washing the seats and general clean-up
bulletInstallation of the batter's box
A view from behind home plate.  No, that's not snow on the ground, but a thin tarp over the new natural grass field.
Installation of the outfield turf was completed in February, and the grass has taken nicely to its new home.  The sod begun to root and growth is better than expected.  In fact, the infield turf (installed late last year) has already been mowed multiple times without problems.  Work on the Great American Ball Park will continue next door to Cinergy uninterrupted by baseball even during day games.  The only restriction is that cranes must operate outside of a batter's field  of vision in straight-away center field.
The finishing touches are being put on Cinergy's new outfield fence. Note the Great American Ball Park site under construction in the background.
"Although the stadium has been here for 30 years, there are some aspects of the operation that you have to look at like a new facility," according to Terry Evans from Administrative Services who is overseeing the project.  "It's a lot of work, but we will be ready to play ball come April 2nd." 

There's no doubt this will be an interesting year at Cinergy.  Hopefully, Reds fans will have much to cheer about this year and the years ahead.

Above:  The new outfield bullpens locate behind the right field fence are currently under construction.

Right:  This diagram shows how the Great American Ball Park lays out in relation to the existing Cinergy Field.


Commissioners Updated on Great American Ball Park Progress

At their March 19th meeting, the Board of County Commissioners received an update regarding the Great American Ball Park project.  The project which incorporates a new ball park for the Cincinnati Reds and related infrastructure is generally on target in terms of budget and timeline for completion by opening day, April 2003.  The County's investment in the new Ball Park is capped at $280 million.  In addition to the Ball Park, the County is working on infrastructure in the area, central riverfront public improvements, and additional parking construction.  In total, the Ball Park
and related projects have a healthy contingency built in.  There is a 4-10% contingency on each project component plus an additional "Owner's reserve."  In recent months there has been an increase in projected costs in some components of the Ball Park project.  These costs have been offset through savings in other aspects in the project, value engineering (a process of identifying less costly construction alternatives) and the Reds paying for some project components such as food service equipment to keep the County at its cap of $280 million.  Over $80 million in bids will be opened between now and the end of April.  

According to the County's Construction Executive Mike Sieving, "The report is generally good news.  Overall, we are on schedule and project costs are being managed within the budget.  We did identify a few areas of concern and told the Board of County Commissioners how we planned to address them."  

To date, the County is exceeding its overall 15% goal for small business (SBE) participation in the Ball Park, East Garage, and parking and infrastructure projects.   SBE participation on the East Garage, site improvements, and parking and infrastructure projects are 37%, 40% and 22% respectively.  To date, SBE participation on the Ball Park Project is 9.3%.  The construction team has identified initiatives designed to help the County reach its goal of 15% participation by small businesses for the Ball Park project.  Also, efforts to help minority and female owned businesses participate in the project was an area of concerned raised at the Commissioners briefing.  "We have to improve in the areas of small, minority and women owned business participation and I think together we can do that," stated Mike Sieving.

The Construction Team plans to provide Commissioners with updates on a regular basis as the project moves forward.


Employee of the Year Award Nominations accepted until March 30th

Nomination forms are still available for the Hamilton County Employee of the Year program.  Through this program you have the opportunity to recognize a co-worker or any other Hamilton County employee that has excelled in their service to the citizens of Hamilton County. 

Nomination forms have been distributed to elected officials, department directors, and payroll officers.  (In fact, nomination forms were attached to the e-mail notifying you of the past two editions of Hello, Hamilton County.)  Nominations with approval by the employee’s supervisor may be submitted via mail, e-mail or fax and are due by March 30, 2001. Hamilton County Employee of the Year recipients will be recognized at a Board of County Commissioners meeting and receive a plaque at a community ceremony on Fountain Square, Wednesday, May 9, as a part of Public Service Recognition Week.

Should you have any questions regarding the Employee of the Year program or if you want to receive a nomination form directly, please contact Senior Assistant County Administrator Eric Stuckey at 946-4432 or via e-mail (Eric.Stuckey@Hamilton-co.org). Please take a few minutes to recognize the achievements and excellence in public service exemplified by one of your co-workers by nominating them for the Hamilton County Employee of the Year program. 


March 25-31 Severe Weather Week
With the approaching spring season comes much awaited warmer weather.  Also comes the increased threat of severe weather to our area.  Accordingly and consistent with statewide observations, the Board of County Commissioners of Hamilton County has proclaimed the week of March 25-31,2001 as:  Severe Weather Awareness Week in Hamilton County.

Hamilton County urges all citizens to familiarize themselves with severe weather and flood safety rules, to understand the meaning and use of the outdoor warning siren signals, obtain and use indoor tone alerting NOAA weather radios, and to be prepared to take necessary actions to safeguard homes and families when severe weather strikes.

Severe weather safety information has been provided to all local political subdivisions and public safety departments within Hamilton County.   Local elementary and middle schools have received severe weather safety literature and are encouraged to conduct Tornado Safety drills on 3/28/01.

The following emergency communications and warning systems will be tested in Hamilton County during Severe Weather Awareness Week:  the Emergency Management Agency Emergency Alert Radio Net, the Hamilton County Disaster Radio Net, the broadcast media Emergency Alert System (EAS) and NOAA weather radio. 

The outdoor warning siren system in Hamilton County will not be tested during this week as it is tested at 12:00 noon on the first and third Wednesdays of each month.  This system is comprised of 185 outdoor sirens owned by jurisdictions within the county and coordinated by the Hamilton County Emergency Management Agency.

For actual severe weather warnings in Hamilton County, the outdoor warning siren system alerts the public to two severe weather warnings by using the following:

A five minute STEADY TONE for either a TORNADO WARNING or a SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING during a TORNADO WATCH (either as issued by the National Weather Service).  

To ensure that you receive the most timely and current severe weather information, utilize a tone alerting weather radio that will receive severe weather watch and warning broadcasts directly from the National Weather Service (NWS) over their NOAA weather radio broadcast system.  Indoor warning tone alerting weather radios combined with the outdoor warning sirens provide an integrated indoor and outdoor warning system to best protect you.  

The Hamilton County Emergency Management Agency in cooperation with the National Weather Service, the Weather Amateur Radio Network (WARN) and hosting jurisdictions, has conducted three SKYWARN severe weather spotter training sessions in Hamilton County.  These spotter training sessions teach the general public and public safety personnel about what to look for when severe weather enters our area.  Attendees are given a direct telephone number to call the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Wilmington to report observations and information which assists the NWS in preparing local severe weather warnings.

For more information, please call Judy Weimer at:   The Hamilton County Emergency Management Agency (513) 851-7080.


Yard waste Drop-off Sites Announced
Now that spring is almost here, and summer will be before you know it, it’s time once again, to think about what you’re going to do with your yard waste. Dispose of your yard waste properly and protect the environment rather than just throwing it away. You can reduce the amount of solid waste that goes into your landfills by recycling, and it’s free! 

The Hamilton County Department of Environmental Services provides free yard waste recycling drop-off sites at the following locations:

            East:          Evans Landscaping, 3700 Roundbottom Road in Newtown

            West:        Kuliga Park, 6717 Bridgetown Road in Green Township

North:       Rumpke Sanitary Landfill, Strubble Road and Colerain Avenue in Colerain Township

All sites will be open from March 31, 2001 through November 25, 2001. Hours of operation are 11:00a.m. to 4:30p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Sites will re-open January 5, 2002, through January 12, 2002, on Saturdays only from 11:00a.m. to 3:00p.m.. All sites will be closed on Easter Sunday, April 15, 2001. The Evans Landscaping site will also be open during it’s regular business hours for drop-off, in addition to the dates and times listed above.

Drop-off sites accept items such as leaves, grass clippings, brush, garden waste, tree trunks, Christmas trees, and prunings from trees or shrubs free of charge, but there are some requirements for yard waste. The following is a list of rules for the yard waste recycling drop-off sites:

Brush and tree branches must be cut into lengths of 4 feet or less and must be no larger than 12 inches in diameter.

Brush and tree branches must be bundled, and bundles must not he heavier than 75 pounds.

Yard waste must be brought to locations in containers of bags brown paper bags preferred.

Containers and plastic bags will be returned.

Yard waste in commercial vehicles or from commercial establishments cannot be accepted.

No large trailers or trucks larger than pickups.

No pallets, boards, nails, fence or wire accepted.

No bricks, stones, or soils accepted.

All children must stay inside vehicles.

Hamilton County residents only.

To learn more about how to manage your yard waste at home, request the free, recently updated, Yard waste at Home Handbook from the Hamilton County Department of Environmental Services by calling the Yard waste Hotline at 946-7755, or visit our web-site at www.hcdoes.org.


Grant Funding Announced for Two County Agencies:
Environmental Services receives renewal of EPA funds
The Hamilton County Department of Environmental Services has received a continuation of their Particular Matter 2.5 (PM.5) Ambient Air Monitoring Network grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  The award is for $287,492 for the period March 15, 2001 through March 14, 2002.
River City receives Criminal Justice grant
The River City Correctional Center has received a grant from the Office of Criminal Justice Services in the amount of $140,998.72 for a Residential Substance Abuse Treatment for High Risk Offender program.  The grant will support the components of a drug and alcohol program such as treatment planning, group and individual therapy, ongoing education and discharge planning.


Funding offered for Joint Labor-Management Committees

The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service is offering funds for the establishment of operation of joint labor-management committees.  These committees goal is to improve labor-management relationships, job security, and organizational effectiveness.  Other goals include enhancing economic development and involving workers in decisions affecting their jobs. A total of $1.5 million is available for this program.  FMCS will award two or more grants. 

Applications must be submitted by May 19, 2001.  For further information contact Cindy Weitlauf at 946-4317 or go to the FMCS web page at: http://www.fmcs.gov/agency/grants/grantskit/default.htm.


Project Thaw Update:  Funds still available; program will end March 30
Through March 16 over 8,800 applications have been processed and paid for a total of $1.91 million in assistance to Hamilton County families and individuals through Project THAW. Project THAW is a state-funded program providing one-time payments of up to $250 to help with heating bills for people with income up to 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. The program is in effect until March 30, 2001. 
Funds for the Project THAW program are still available.  This program is first come-first served.  All eligible Hamilton County residents are welcome to apply, but there is no guarantee all eligible residents  will get help due to the limited funding. Citizens who apply and get payment will actually see a credit on their Cinergy-CG&E bill.  

Thanks to our many community partners, a convenient approach is being used to make applications widely available in the community and allows people to mail in completed applications.  Three options are available for application:   


Pick up the one-page application at all ten Cinergy offices, all 42 branches of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Community Action Agency sites, and the Hamilton County Department of Human Services starting Monday.  Instructions for completing and mailing the application are on the back.  There’s one address if your primary heating supplier is Cinergy-CG&E--another address if you use another provider for heating oil, propane, or wood.


Access the application at http://www.hamilton-co.org/dhs or through a special Project THAW "button" on the Hamilton County Homepage.  Print out, complete, and mail the application as directed in the instructions.  (Due to proof of income required to apply, on-line application is not available.) 


Older people or those with disabilities who cannot pick up an application should call 751-2624.  A representative of CAA will deliver an application to them.

Important points about Project Thaw: 

                        (1)       You must have an unpaid heating bill.  Project Thaw will not reimburse payments already made.

                        (2)       Your income must be below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level--about $16,700 per year for a single adult and about $34,100 per year for a family of four.  It is important that applicants remember to provide proof of income with their applications.

                        (3)       This is a one-time payment of half the cost of your unpaid heating bill, up to a maximum of $250.


Chinese Visitors learn about Hamilton County
Last week a group of approximately 20 human resources executives from China visited Hamilton County to learn about the community and our government.  The group was hosted by Procter & Gamble employee Jason Xi.  The group heard from representatives of various areas of County government and was hosted by the County Personnel Department.  A special thanks goes out to Li Zhang from the Auditor's Office who assisted us with communication with one of the visitors who was separated from the group.  

Hamilton County Employees with a group of visitors from China.



Have a Great Week!


Hello, Hamilton County is published twice each month.  It is placed on both the County's internal and external Web pages.  It is design to enlighten and inform both citizens and employees of Hamilton County.  If you have questions or suggestions for future editions, contact Sharon Booker (946-4428) or Eric Stuckey (946-4432) in the County Administrator's Office or e-mail to eric.stuckey@hamilton-co.org.