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West Chester Township

West Chester Township, effective June 28, 2000, became the new name for what had been known as Union Township for 73 years. Union Township was the 13th and last township formed in Butler County. It was authorized June 2, 1823, by Butler County commissioners. Its land was taken from Liberty Township. The 1875 atlas said "its name was given it with no historical significance." It became West Chester Township June 28, 2000, 90 days after the Butler County Board of Elections certified the result of a March 7, 2000, vote. The name change was approved by 86.5 percent of the voters -- 11,666 in favor, 1,826 against. Before the name change, it was one of 28 Union townships in Ohio's 88 counties. The state-owned Miami-Erie Canal opened between Middletown and Cincinnati in 1827, including ports at Port Union, Rialto and Crescentville in the southwest corner of the township. In addition to providing outlets for local agriculture, it served paper mills built later at Rialto and Crescentville.

The first railroad entered the township in June 1872 when the Cincinnati, Dayton & Eastern opened between Cincinnati and Dayton, via Middletown.

Township stations were Gano, West Chester and Maud. In its early years, the CD&E also was known as the Bee Line, the Straight Line, the Short Line, the Dayton & Cincinnati Shortline, the Cincinnati & Springfield Railway and the Columbus, Springfield & Cincinnati Railroad. Later, it was part of the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati & Indianapolis Railway, the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway, the Big Four and the New York Central System. In 1968, the New York Central System and the Pennsylvania Railroad merged as Penn Central. Conrail assumed control of Penn Central in 1976. In June 1999 the Norfolk Southern acquired the route through eastern Butler County. A second railroad arrived in the township in 1888, when the Cincinnati & Richmond -- a part of the Pennsylvania Railroad -- completed a new line between Cincinnati and Hamilton, passing through Crescentville, Rialto and Port Union. In 1968, it became part of Penn Central. In 1976, the line was taken over by Conrail. At the same time, the Norfolk & Western Railway purchased 98 miles of track between Cincinnati and New Castle, Ind., from Penn Central, including the route through West Chester Township. In 1982 N&W and the Southern Railway consolidated as the Norfolk Southern Corp. For 51 years, from World War II through the Cold War, the 625-acre Voice of America was a township landmark. Originally known as Bethany Station, the VOA was north of Tylersville Road, south of Hamilton-Mason Road, east of I-75 and west of Butler-Warren Road. One of four such installations in the nation, it broadcast over 10 transmitters in more than 40 languages to more than 120 million listeners in Europe, Africa and South of America. With the Cold War ended, federal budget cutters chopped VOA funding. Bethany Station closed Nov. 14, 1994. Demolition of transmission towers began in 1997. In recent years, the former VOA property has experienced mixed-use development, partly commercial and partly public parks. Township population was 1,743 in the 1900 census. It remained under 4,000 until jumping to 6,236 in 1960. Recent counts have been 12,795 in 1970; 23,533 in 1980; 39,703 in 1990; and 54,895 in 2000, the latter representing 16.5 percent of the county total of 332,807 residents. In 1957 schools in Union and Liberty township combined to form the Liberty-Union District. In 1970 it was renamed the Lakota district. In 1997, Lakota High School split with the opening of two new buildings, Lakota East and Lakota West. Lakota West High School is in West Chester Township. Commercial growth spurted in the late 1990s with the building a new interchange on I-75, Union Centre, the third in the township and the first addition in the county since the interstate highway opened in July 1960.

Until then both of the county's I-75 interchanges were in the township -- at Cincinnati-Dayton Road and at Tylersville Road.

Work began in March 1997 on the $35.5 million Union Centre project. It was completed in December 1997, opening more than 3,000 acres previously inaccessible. The Union Centre interchange has led to the creation of hundreds of jobs and returned millions in taxes. The interchange was part of a planned central business district for fast-growing township. Related highway improvements include the connection of Union Centre Blvd. and Symmes Road and an eastward extension of Muhlhauser Road to Union Centre Blvd.

Union Centre joins a colorful list of township place names: Chester, Chester Station, Crescentville, 18-Mile Stand, Gano, Hogtown, Maud, McMaken's Bridge, Mechanicsburg, Pisgah, Port Union, Pug Muncy, Rialto, Tylersville and West Chester. The adjacent cities of Fairfield and Sharonville also extend into the township.

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