Commissioners updated on Great Miami Riverway

By Patricia Ann Speelman -

SIDNEY — Elizabeth Connor, coordinator of the Great Miami Riverway, updated Shelby County commissioners on her organization’s progress since its inception in 2017.

The update came during the commissioners’ regular meeting, Tuesday, June 26.

The Great Miami Riverway, Connor said, is a coalition of rivers, trails and communities along a 99-mile stretch of the Great Miami River, from Hamilton to Sidney. The organization was developed to market the events, businesses and areas of the corridor.

Connor presented statistics indicating that during 2017, $1.8 million in river access improvements and $16 million in riverfront investments had been made in various communities.

“Tourism is a $43 billion industry in Ohio and supports 428,000 jobs,” she said. Tourists are defined as people who travel at least 50 miles and 79 percent of them infer the quality of a location based on its signage.

The Great Miami Riverway has created medallions of its logo that businesses and municipalities can add to their signs to indicate that they are a part of the larger economic and tourist region. There are also 14 two-sided kiosks that will be erected in the next two to three years, three of them in Sidney. The first, according to Sidney Parks and Recreation Director Duane Gaier, who accompanied Connor, will be placed at the entrance to Custenborder Park sometime this year.

Other than the medallions and kiosks, all of the Great Miami Riverway’s marketing is digital. Its website promotes events in the partner communities and offers curated itineraries and trail condition maps.

Commissioner Bob Guillozet asked how the county could become a coalition member. The city of Sidney is already a member. Connor said that membership comes with a financial contribution based on the county’s population.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the commissioners also got feedback from Greg Lyons, of the county’s maintenance department, about some options for cutting the projected costs of building a new animal shelter. The Shelby County Animal Rescue Foundation has raised almost $2,400,000 for the project, but when it was put out to bid, there was no response. Freytag and Associates, the architects, theorized that was because contractors couldn’t meet the estimated cost.

Freytag and Associates had proposed changes in architectural elements, finishes, plumbing, HVAC and electrical components. Lyons and the commissioners discussed the ramifications of each proposal. In some cases, Lyons noted, saving money now would mean spending more later because of inefficiencies in operation that would occur because of the changes.

In other business during recent meetings, the commissioners:

• Awarded a contract in the amount of $116,063.09 to Low Voltage Solutions for communications and technology equipment and systems for the new addition to Fair Haven Shelby County Home.

• Proclaimed the week of May 21-26 as Emergency Medical Services Week in Shelby County.

• Awarded a contract for 2018 seal program to Henry W. Bergman Inc., of Genoa, in the amount of $112,569.54.

• Entered into an enterprise zone agreement with Cargill Inc. and the city of Sidney.

• Appointed Judy Johnson to serve on the Monumental Building Board of Trustees.

• Received letter from the Shelby County engineer certifying that the Newport sewer project is complete and the sewer is accessible for connection by owners in the unincorporated hamlet area of Newport and adopted a resolution ordering owners to connect their premises to the sewer and cease discharge otherwise than to the sewer within 90 days.

• Adopted a resolution setting Shelby County Sewer District rates for the unincorporated hamlet area of Newport at $65.

By Patricia Ann Speelman

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.