369. Sept. 3, 1995 - Are Hamilton City Council incumbents assured election? (Opinion page guest column)
guest column, Journal-News, Sept. 3, 1995
What are chances of newcomer winning seat or becoming mayor?
Are Hamilton City Council incumbents assured election?
By Jim Blount
What are the chances of an incumbent losing a seat on Hamilton City Council? Is there a correlation between the number of incumbents seeking re-election and the number of candidates? Has the presence of many incumbents discouraged others from running? What are the odds of a newcomer winning the mayor's office?
Those are some questions which arise in September and October in odd numbered years as voters face the responsibility of electing seven members of Hamilton City Council for the next two years. In recent years, questions also have concerned the possibility of imposing term limits to encourage fresh ideas and new approaches to governing the city.
Incumbents usually have the advantages of name recognition and -- in the absence of recent unpopular actions and decisions -- citizen satisfaction during the nearly two years preceding the election.
Since inauguration of the 7-X voting system in 1961, incumbents have been re-elected nine out of 10 times. In those 17 contests for seven seats, incumbents were successful 75 times in 83 tries (90.4 percent).
Only once has more than one officeholder been turned out. That was in 1983, when only three of six members seeking re-election won another term. The three ousted councilmen finished 11th, 12th and 13th among 18 candidates.
Of 119 seats determined in 17 elections, 75 have gone to incumbents and 44 to new members. That averages 4.41 incumbents and 2.59 newcomers after each election.
Under 7-X, different faces have outnumbered council veterans four times (1963, 1969, 1981 and 1983). In each of those years, voters chose four newcomers.
Some newcomers are assured election this year because Mayor Charles R. Furmon and members Don Stewart and Katherine Rumph won't be on the ballot. But two others in the race -- although not chosen two years ago -- aren't strangers to city council. They are Danny N. Crank. and Greg Jolivette.
Crank was elected in 1987, 1989 and 1991, but finished eighth in 1993. When Lynn E. Kinkaid resigned to take a county position, Crank was appointed to the vacancy. Jolivette won five straight terms from 1981 through 1989 before opting to run for Congress.
There hasn't been a clear connection between the number of incumbents seeking re-election and a scarcity of candidates.
Only three incumbents ran in 1963 and 1981 when contestants numbered 16 and 14, respectively. Seven times there have been six incumbents (1961, 1965, 1977, 1983, 1987, 1991 and 1993). In those years, in order, the candidates totaled 17, 13, 10, 18, 11, 16 and 12.
There hasn't been a contest in which all seven members sought another term.
The most candidates: 20 in 1969 when three of four incumbents were returned to office. The fewest candidates: Nine in 1985 when all five incumbents won re-election. The average number of candidates: 13.77 (234 candidates in 17 elections).
Hamilton has had its share of long-time council members under both 7-X and the previous voting system, the complicated proportional representation (PR) method in use between 1927 and 1959.
Six people have been elected seven or more times. Leo Welsh won 10 consecutive terms between 1927 and 1945, and voters seated Edward Beckett 10 times between 1945 and 1967. Eight-time winners were Raymond H. Burke (1927-1941) and James W. Beckett (1969-1983), a son of Edward Beckett. Elected seven times were Dr. Mark Millikin (1927-1939) and Herbert Mick (1953-1965). Eleven others have been elected five or six times.
If incumbency or previous council service is an advantage, Adolf Olivas can expect his seventh victory, George V. McNally and Jolivette their sixth terms, Crank a fourth triumph and first-termer David T. Davidson re-election.
Hamilton's mayor is the council candidate garnering the most votes. Under 7-X, votes can be cast for no more than seven people. Voters can't designate which candidate they favor for mayor.
With Furmon out of the 1995 competition, Hamilton is assured a different mayor for the 1996-1997 term, but not necessarily someone new to the job. Three former mayors -- McNally (1983), Jolivette (1985, 1987 and 1989) and Olivas (1991) -- are among the avowed council candidates.
But precedent is against one of them becoming mayor for 1996-1997. No one has recaptured the office after yielding it.
There's more hope for newcomers. Four first-time candidates have been elected mayor (or 23.5 percent of the time) since 1961. They were Frank Froelke in 1967, Frank Witt in 1971, McNally in 1983 and Furmon in 1993.
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370. Sept. 6, 1995 - Hamilton celebrated electricity in 1895:
Journal-News, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 1995
'Great Electric Light Celebration observed in Hamilton Sept. 19,1895
By Jim Blount
A 50-gun salute and ringing fire bells launched Hamilton's "Great Electric Light Celebration" 100 years ago as the community hailed completion of its municipal electric generating plant. A parade, band concert and program at the Butler County Courthouse concluded with fireworks and ignition of 215 street lights Sept. 19, 1895.
The $100,000 facility on North Third Street included a pair of 60-kilowatt arc lighting machines and three Corliss engines manufactured by the Hooven, Owens, Rentschler Company of Hamilton.
City council had ordered the plant built after a study indicated homeowners would save 40 percent in switching from gas to electric lighting. Also, electricity would be available 24 hours while gas for lighting had been provided by a private company only from twilight to midnight.
The study said electricity would save the city about $20,000, plus allowing street lights to be ignited from a central source, not individually as with gas.
Before municipal electricity, said Nelson Williams, the featured speaker at the Sept. 19, 1895, ceremony, Hamilton was "a great and enterprising city." But "over it all (was) a pall of darkness at night, with here and there a faint suspicion of a gas light shining through smoke glass." Williams said it "was not a picture calculated to win favorable commendation from the strangers" who visited the city.
"But tonight we turn a lever and press a button and behold, the heavens are ablaze with light!" proclaimed the lawyer and civic leader.
As electricity gained popularity, expansions and improvements were required to meet increased local use. By 1907, the generating plant had a capacity of 500 kilowatts. In 1920, it reached 1,000 kilowatts, but that wasn't enough. To meet demands, the city had to buy additional energy from the Ford Motor Company, which had just built its factory across the railroad tracks from the municipal plant.
The nucleus of the present plant was completed in 1929 when two 3,000-kilowatt generating units went into operation. Before the end of the year, a third unit of 7,500 kilowatt capacity was in place. The new plant, approved by voters in 1920, cost $1.3 minion.
Military needs busied about 20,000 Hamilton workers and taxed the electric system during World War II. In 1940 -- as local plants started to produce defense goods -- 39.38 million kilowatts of electricity were consumed in Hamilton. By 1945, demand rose more than 66 percent to 65.39 million kilowatts.
After 1929, more coal-fired generators were added, and gas turbine peaking units were installed. Over the years, efficiency also increased. In 1900 four pounds of coal produced a kilowatt. By the mid 1970s, only a pound and a quarter yielded a kilowatt. In recent years, some older coal-fired generators have been operated on natural gas, which has sometimes been cheaper than burning coal. The city also has purchased electric power from other generators.
Hamilton has been producing hydro-electric power since acquiring the Greenup plant on the Ohio River near Portsmouth. It was completed in 1982 by the City of Vanceburg, Ky. Hamilton started buying power in December 1982, as the Kentucky community encountered financial difficulties associated with the hydro plant. After a legal struggle involving the cities, Hamilton bought the Greenup complex for $169.1 million in May 1988.
The city also owns the small hydro units northeast of the generating plant. They once were part of the hydraulic canal developed by the Ford Motor Company in 1919 when its Hamilton plant was built. They also provide water needed to cool steam facilities.
In 1994, Hamilton's 23,600 residential, 2,750 commercial and 95 industrial customers used 731.4 minion kilowatts of electricity. Average monthly residential consumption has soared from 42 kilowatts in 1937, and 200 kilowatts in the mid 1950s, to 726 kilowatts in 1994.
In 1995, the municipal system also powers 8,470 street lights in the city, nearly 40 times the 215 lamps which set the heavens above Hamilton "ablaze with light" 100 years ago.
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371. Sept. 13, 1995 - Oxford Covered Bridge needs repair:
Journal-News, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 1995
Oxford’s distressed covered bridge only county span on its original site
By Jim Blount
Two covered bridges -- those remainder of the so-called "good old days" when life was slower paced -- still grace Butler County’s landscape. One of the remnants of the horse-and-buggy era is awaiting urgent repair.
The 206-foot span at the northern edge of Oxford, just northwest of Morning Sun Road (Ohio 732), has been known by at least two names -- Pugh's Mill Covered Bridge and Black Covered Bridge.
The Oxford structure is the only Butler County covered bridge on its original site.
In 1868 Butler County commissioners contracted with Banden (or Bandin), Butin and Bowman, at $30.25 per linear foot to build the bridge. The same firm made final adjustments in 1869.
The two-span bridge crosses Tallawanda Creek, as Four Mile Creek is known in the Oxford area. Circumstantial evidence indicates it was built to improve access to an Oxford Township mill, a common reason for erecting covered bridges in the 19th century.
Many years earlier, according to one source, Aaron Austin built a three-story grist mill almost two miles north of Oxford. After a fire in 1845, it was rebuilt by a son, Franklin Austin. Later, it had a series of owners, including James B. Pugh.
A brochure prepared by the Oxford Museum Association says "the covered bridge apparently was constructed shortly after J. B. Pugh built a three-story wood structure in which a 16-foot overshot water wheel powered separate grist and saw mills."
The mill burned in 1885, and eventually the name was changed to Black Bridge, probably because a family of that name lived nearby.
The Oxford bridge has survived the 1913 flood -- the destroyer of numerous bridges in the Midwest -- other challenges from Mother Nature and the heavier loads of the motor age.
In 1950, Ohio highway officials anticipated increased traffic demands on Ohio 732 with development of Hueston Woods State Park. The 81-year-old wood bridge had to be replaced. But Oxford citizens, led by Stuart Fitton, an Oxford resident and Hamilton lawyer, campaigned to save the bridge.
"Before the WPA helped the Village of Oxford build its fine municipal pool, the creek under the bridge was Oxford's old swimming hole and is remembered not only by the people of Oxford, but by generations of Miami University students," Fitton said in a letter to Gov. Frank J. Lausche.
"Many of these students can recall when, on a spring or autumn hike, stealing a quick kiss from their best girl while the bridge afforded brief protection from the outside world," Fitton recalled. "This covered bridge," he said, "is an integral part of the atmosphere of the Village of Oxford and its environs."
In July 1951 the State Highway Commission announced it would spare the bridge. Instead of demolishing the covered bridge, the state ordered a new concrete bridge built upstream. It opened in September 1953. The state officially abandoned Black Covered Bridge Nov. 1, 1954.
Ownership of the old timber span passed to the county, but the Oxford Museum Association has been its adoptive parent for more than 40 years. In 1975, the group succeeded in having the bridge placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Recent efforts have stabilized the structure, which is threatened by every storm and every accumulation of snow on its roof, said Jon Scharf of the OMA. "This winter could be critical," he observed.
Extensive repairs, under the direction of the Butler County engineer's office, are pending while the Oxford Museum Association raises money to match government allocations. Contributions for Black Covered Bridge may be sent to the Oxford Museum Association, P. O. Box 184, Oxford, Ohio 45056.
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372. Sept. 20, 1995 - Kennedy family built Seven Mile Bridge:
Journal-News, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 1995
Seven Mile Covered Bridge erected by Kennedys, prolific Indiana builders
By Jim Blount
A Butler County span may have been a proving ground for one of the most prolific and revered covered bridge-building families in the Middle West. The Taylor School Covered Bridge, a half mile west of Seven Mile, was the product of Archibald Kennedy and sons. The bridge over Seven Mile Creek was the second timber crossing built by the Rush County, Indiana, family.
The Kennedys erected about 60 covered bridges between 1870 and 1918, including 27 from 1881 through 1884. The Seven Mile bridge was the only one they constructed outside the Hoosier State.
The sons, Emmett Kennedy and Charles Kennedy, continued to build bridges into the 1890s. Then Emmett Kennedy and his two sons, Charles Kennedy and Karl Kennedy, built and repaired covered bridges into the 1920s.
The father, Archibald Kennedy, won his first contract in 1870 for the Dunlapsville Covered Bridge, southeast of the Union County, Indiana, town by that name (now submerged under Brookville Lake). The two-span, 315-foot bridge crossed the East Fork of the Whitewater River for 100 years.
As Brookville Lake neared completion, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers presented the Dunlapsville bridge to the Union County commissioners. The first Kennedy-built bridge was closed in 1970. It was dismantled in preparation for relocation, but the preservation effort ended in disappointment when a fire destroyed the stacked pieces of the 100-year-old bridge.
In 1871, when building the Seven Mile bridge in Butler County, the elder Kennedy was joined by his sons, Emmett and Charles, for the first time. It was a modest project in comparison with the lengthy Dunlapsville span.
The Taylor School Covered Bridge, which sat on the line dividing Section 32 in Wayne Township and Section 5 in St. Clair Township, had one span and was 150 feet long.
The one-lane bridge carried traffic over Taylor School Road into the 20th century. It was replaced in 1927.
The Kennedy family was among the bridge builders who used models to represent their skills and the durability of their work to officeholders and company officials seeking bids for bridges.
In 1872, Emmett Kennedy crafted a 42-inch scale model of a Burr arch truss bridge from scrap wood and bolted it together with screws obtained from a Rushville, Ind., jeweler.
Emmett and Charles Kennedy and their father, Archibald, carried the model to meetings. As part of their presentation, the ends would be supported on chairs or blocks and the elder Kennedy, a 250-pounder, would sit or stand on the miniature bridge to prove the strength of its design.
"Although none of the Kennedys had training as engineers, they certainly understood the principles of bridge construction, for none of their structures ever failed from errors in design or workmanship," observed George Gould, an expert on Indiana structures. "Furthermore," he added, "their bridges were built well above possible high water marks and only one or two were ever washed away."
A distinctive feature of Kennedy bridges was the decorative scroll trim on portals. In addition to a pattern, it usually included the Kennedy name and the date of the bridge's completion.
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373. Sept. 27, 1995 - War Chest basis for United Way:
Journal-News, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 1995
War Chest was basis for United Way
By Jim Blount
Butler County United Way is observing its 75th anniversary this year, but its origins actually extend to World War I. The horrors of war had been apparent to most Americans for three years before the United States officially entered the European conflict in April 1917. As the first doughboys departed, Americans were learning the social costs of waging war and realizing that government wasn't ready to pay all the bills.
Several agencies -- most notably the YMCA and the Red Cross -- launched successful financial drives. Other groups -- some quickly organized and lacking credibility and controls -- also solicited donations for causes related to the war, which had started in Europe in 1914.
In an attempt to limit the appeals, eliminate duplication and channel money to legitimate agencies, community leaders across the nation created local War Chests in 1917 and 1918.
The Hamilton District War Chest campaign opened May 20, 1918. Judge Clarence Murphy chaired the executive committee, which also included J. E. Brate, Peter Benninghofen, L. P. Clawson, S. D. Fitton, S. M. Goodman, C. E. Heiser, Darrell Joyce, David Kahn, Rev. J. F. McNary, Fred J. Myers, O. V. Parrish, G. A. Rentschler, Ben Strauss, Peter G. Thomson and B. S. Bartlow, secretary. The campaign committee, headed by Darrell Joyce, included D. H. DeArmond, B. D. Lecklider, B. S. Bartlow and S. M. Goodman.
"Since this war will evidently continue for some years, it has been deemed best to systematize this work so that the burden would be equitably distributed and the resources of the community properly conserved," a newspaper said in explaining the War Chest. "It is the plan to pass the hat only once a year for war relief funds instead of every time there is a call for help. It is a system instead of the random methods that have heretofore prevailed."
A Journal editorial said "the War Chest is the substitution of the system in place of confusion," and will "conserve as well as systematize our energies and resources."
The quota set for Hamilton and Butler County (outside Middletown) was increased from $200,000 to $300,000 before completion of the campaign as officials observed the enthusiastic response.
Most of the money was earmarked for the Red Cross, the YMCA and the Knights of Columbus, agencies already involved in serving Americans in training camps and on the battlefields, their families at home, and civilian victims of the war in Europe.
A contribution of at least one percent of income was suggested, graduating upward from $1 a month for a person with an annual income of $1,200.
By June 1, payments and pledges reached $410,196. It was accomplished by more than 100 volunteer workers who went door-to-door in Hamilton and conducted community meetings in Port Union, Reily, Venice (Ross), Symmes Corner, Overpeck, Shandon, College Corner, Stockton, Princeton, Jacksonburg and Flenner's Corner.
A little more than five months later, Hamilton and Butler County celebrated the armistice that ended World War I Nov. 11, 1918.
Two years later, $117,096 remained in the Hamilton District War Chest. With all obligations met, the committee disbanded and dispersed its money to local organizations, with the exception of $1,022 to the Fatherless Children of France Fund.
Distribution included $50,000 to the Hamilton Chapter, American Red Cross; $30,000 to the Salvation Army; $11,018 to three American Legion posts in Hamilton and Oxford, including $2,500 for plots in the Field of Honor at Greenwood Cemetery; $700 to the Public Health League; and $21,000 to the Community Chest.
The latter grant was the basis for the organization known today as Butler County United Way. Relying on lessons learned during World War I, it launched its first fund-raising campaign in September 1920.
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