Journal-News Wednesday, April 2, 2008
County voters favored state lottery in 1973 vote
By Jim Blount
Gambling -- once illegal in any form in Ohio -- could be expanded in the state if casino advocates have their way. Voters are likely to face a decision this year or next if casino supporters are successful in petition drives and in convincing state officials, and possibly judges, that the issue should be on the ballot.
One plan is to build what is called "a $600 million destination resort casino" on Ohio 73, off I-71, in the Wilmington area. Promoters say it could employ as many as 5,000 people and possibly generate more than $200 million in tax revenues. To make it attractive statewide, they propose dividing financial benefits among Ohio's 88 counties on a per capita basis.
State voters have defeated three casino proposals since 1990.
If approved this time, casino wagering would be added to other forms of gambling legalized in Ohio, including horse racing, bingo, raffles and the Ohio lottery.
Ohioans rejected a lottery proposal May 2, 1972, but had second thoughts a year later. Voters approved the lottery amendment May 8, 1973, in a primary election.
Statewide, the 1973 vote was two-to-one to remove a constitutional amendment that prohibited an Ohio lottery. That decision made Ohio the 10th state to enact a lottery.
In Butler County, 57.4 percent (8,328) voted to authorize the lottery; 6,549 against. In the county's four largest cities, favorable responses were Middletown, 61.4 percent; Fairfield, 61.2 percent; Hamilton, 58.5 percent; and Oxford, 53.8 percent.
Opponents prevailed in three townships: Liberty (103 for, 152 against), Oxford (105-118) and Reily (77-85).
The amendment was necessary because the 1851 Ohio Constitution prohibited any lottery -- by government or private interests. It said "lotteries and the sale of lottery tickets for any purpose whatever shall forever be prohibited in this state." Forever was 123 years.
It took more than a year to organize the program. The sale of 50-cent tickets began Aug. 9, 1974, for Ohio's first lottery game The first drawing was Aug. 22, more than a month before the U. S. Justice Department announced its approval of the Ohio game.
"The biggest weekly competition will be the Buckeye 300 in which six to 12 persons will win at least $15,000 each," the Journal-News explained in 1974. "They will have a chance to compete for the grand prize of $300,000 and smaller prizes of $60,000 and $30,000."
"Every $20 winning ticket redeemed is entered in the Millionaire Pool," said a lottery ad. "The $1 million drawing is held every time 100 finalists have been selected (approximately every six to 12 weeks, depending on sales volume)."
In the lottery's first 11 days, Butler Countians paid more than $50,000 for 103,989 tickets.
In the first year, Butler County players were among the luckiest in the state. Lottery officials said about $1.5 million was spent in the county. Four winners in the county collected a total of $1.2 million. In addition, there were "hundreds of other winners ranging from $20 to $15,000," the Journal-News reported.
In fiscal year 2006, Butler County's 233 lottery retailers collected more than $47 million -- more than 31 times first-year receipts.
A continuing controversy has been the destination of lottery profits -- into the state's general fund or specified for schools?
In 1983, the Ohio General Assembly earmarked lottery profits for education. In 1987, Ohio voters took an additional step, approving a constitutional amendment that permanently designated lottery profits for schools. A year later, legislators created the Lottery Profits Education Fund, separating lottery revenue from the state general revenue fund. The school share varies, depending on prizes paid and the cost of operating and administering the games.
As in other states, Ohio has introduced additional games and richer prizes since 1974, plus daily and weekly drawings. For example, scratch-off instant lottery sales began in June 1976. Ohio joined the Mega Millions game, a multi-state lottery in May 2002.
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Journal-News Wednesday, April 9, 2008
1969 plan urged separating Hamilton campus from Miami
By Jim Blount
Miami University Hamilton -- which will observe its 40th anniversary later this year -- wouldn't be part of Miami University if Gov. James A. Rhodes had prevailed in a 1969 program to revamp Ohio higher education. Miami Hamilton had opened less than four months before Rhodes' reorganization program was announced.
The campus was the result of a fundraising campaign in 1966, when Hamilton was observing its 175th anniversary. Classes began in September 1968 while construction continued.
It had started to take form when the Ohio General Assembly appropriated $1.8 million for buildings, or about 75 percent of the estimated cost. Legislators said the community had to raise the remaining $600,000. Instead, the 1966 local drive realized $1.56 million, more than twice the amount needed.
Ground was broken June 20, 1967, on a 76.8-acre site along the Great Miami River. Speaking at the groundbreaking, Rhodes said the campus could become Hamilton State University in the future, perhaps a hint at the plan he revealed 18 months later.
In January 1969, Rhodes proposed and the Ohio Board of Regents approved separating the new Hamilton campus from the control of Miami University in Oxford. Hamilton was one of 18 branches that would have been divorced from six older state universities.
The plan also included merging two-year campuses into regional institutions. Hamilton would have joined Miami University Middletown, Sinclair Community College in Dayton and the University of Cincinnati's Raymond C. Walters campus in Blue Ash. The school would have been known as the University of Southwestern Ohio.
Released at the same time was a report from the Governor's Task Force on Vocational and Technical Education. It said "industrial leaders know the school system is not producing graduates who are immediately employable and productive."
The report urged schools to "subordinate cultural and enrichment programs" to provide more time for technical education and training for specific jobs. It said "industrial growth will grind to a stop if skilled workers are not at hand to perform necessary jobs."
University presidents and administrators had only three days to consider Rhodes' plan before it was approved by the regents.
The change would be "breaking faith with the many persons and organizations who have given financial and other support to the creation of a new campus which is directly related to the established state university in their area," said Dr. Phillip R. Shriver, president of Miami University.
Shriver's statement reflected the public reaction in the area, which had been seeking a local Miami campus for several years. Outrage to separating the Hamilton campus from Miami was instant and widespread.
"Such a change in character and organization for the Hamilton campus would violate a trust between the Ohio Board of Regents and the citizens of the Hamilton-Fairfield area," said a Journal-News editorial.
The editorial emphasized that financial support for the campus was "made with the understanding the money would support a new institution of higher education associated with an established state university with over 150 years of experience. They were investing in a Hamilton campus which would benefit from the reputation and experiences of Miami University."
"The location of a campus in Hamilton," the Journal-News said, "it was assumed, would provide the services of Miami University to those who could not afford to live on the Oxford campus. The Hamilton campus, it was said, would also provide Hamilton-area business and industry with the benefits of higher education."
Local critics noted that the community had a post-high school vocational school, the Miami Valley Institute of Technology, operated by the Hamilton Board of Education. In January 1969, MVIT had 150 students; Miami Hamilton 1,100.
Eventually, the Rhodes plan died because of strong opposition here and in 17 other Ohio communities with branch campuses of older state universities. Nearly 40 years later, there is neither a Hamilton State University nor the University of Southwestern Ohio.
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Journal-News Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Farmers College offered different curriculum
By Jim Blount
Farmers College, a short-lived institution of higher learning, had several connections to Butler County and Miami University, including sharing credit for educating Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd president of the United States. The college, unique in its era, was founded by Freeman G. Cary, an 1831 Miami graduate.
The college wasn't Cary's first venture into education. In 1832, the 22-year-old Cincinnati native started Cary Academy with four students in his small house in College Hill, then a remote hilltop Cincinnati suburb. Although proclaimed "the leading private school west of the Alleghenies," Cary closed the academy in 1845.
Cary -- sometimes spelled Carey -- had multiple interests. A brief biographical sketch said he was "thoroughly conversant with all the branches of natural science, especially those appertaining to agriculture and horticulture, of which he has acquired both a practical and theoretical knowledge." It said he maintai0ned a conservatory and a greenhouse whe0re he conducted experiments..
He was a leader in the Cincinnati Horticultural Society. He started and edited an agricultur0al publication, The Cincinnatus, popular for more than five years until forced to close amid the turmoil of the Civil War.
In Farmers College, he combined his interest and experience in education and agricultur0e. The school claimed to be the first agricultural college in the Midwest. Farming was taught as a science in the classroom and practiced on an adjoining experimental farm. Cary's stated purpose was to prepare students "for a higher position in any of the industrial pursuits."
When Cary launched the college in 1847, he relied on the ideas and leadership of Robert Hamilton Bishop, who had been president of Miami University when Cary was a student in Oxford.
Under Bishop's tenure, "Miami became a storm center of two great controversies which rocked the national [Presbyterian] church," wrote James H. Rodabaugh, a Bishop biographer. The friction was multiple; "first, the controversy between liberal and orthodox Presbyterians; second, the struggle between slavery and anti-slavery forces of the church; with each group fighting for the control of the university."
Rodabaugh said Bishop "wished to see the church declare slavery a sin" and believed "that the problem of abolition was an educational one, and it was therefore the responsibility of the church through its ministers to teach some means of abolishing slavery." Miami trustees disagreed.
Bishop -- Miami's president from 1824 to 1841 -- remained on the Oxford faculty until 1845.
A few years before his departure from Oxford, Bishop had tried to persuade trustees that Miami should offer more than the usual classic curriculum. He also wanted to educate farmers to be better farmers.
Cary enlisted Bishop as president of Farmers College, a position he held from 1845 through 1855. Bishop, a former itinerant Presbyterian minister, relied on his experience to travel Butler, Hamilton and nearby counties to recruit students from farm families.
When Bishop retired, he asked Farmers College trustees for permission to be buried on the campus in a small mound. He also requested that his wife be buried in what became known as Bishop's Mound after his death April 29, 1855. (In 1959, Bishop and his wife were reburied on the Miami campus.)
Farmers College continued for six more years. The school closed early in the Civil War (1861-65) when about two-thirds of its students departed to join either Union or Confederate forces.
Cary, its founder, retired to a farm near Hamilton in 1861.
In 1873, Farmers College became Belmont College -- on what is now Belmont Avenue, extending west from Hamilton Avenue. Belmont accepted females and offered a traditional classical curriculum.
Another change came in 1890 when the property became the Ohio Military Institute, described by a Cincinnati newspaper as "a primary, intermediate and college preparatory school for boys."
In June 1958, OMI graduated its 68th class, 12 cadets from a corps of 122. After the ceremonies, officials cited climbing costs in announcing OMI's closing. Leaders also disclosed they had sold the 47-acre campus for $183,600 to the Cincinnati Board Of Education. Aiken High School opened on the site in the fall of 1962.
Next week this column will look at some distinguished men -- all with Butler County connections -- who were educated at Farmers College.
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Journal-News Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Farmers College alumni excelled in varied professions
By Jim Blount
Freeman Cary's intention was to impart knowledge of agricultural science to sons of farmers at Farmers College in College Hill. Cary had been graduated in 1831 from Miami University, which provided a classic curriculum for young men expected to become lawyers, ministers and scholars.
In 1845, in opening what was regarded as the first agricultural college in the Midwest, Cary and his professors taught farming as a science in the classroom and in adjacent fields. He said his graduates would be prepared "for a higher position in any of the industrial pursuits."
Unfortunately, Cary died on his Butler County farm Aug. 26, 1888, a few months before one his former students, Benjamin Harrison, was elected the 23rd president of the United States. Harrison was one of many Farmers College students whose success wasn't in agriculture.
Sharing the credit for the school's academic record was Robert Hamilton Bishop, Miami University's first president from 1824 until 1841. Bishop was forced out of the position in 1841, but remained on the faculty at Oxford until 1845, when he became president of Farmers College on a hilltop overlooking Cincinnati. He headed the school until shortly before his death in 1855.
Harrison had attended Farmers College before earning a degree at Miami University in Oxford in 1852. After graduation, he studied law in Cincinnati; married Caroline Lavina Scott, an Oxford native; practiced law in Indianapolis; rose to colonel by the end of the Civil War; and represented Indiana in the U. S. Senate.
Harrison was a dark horse candidate entering the 1888 Republican convention, but won the presidential nomination on the eighth ballot. He defeated Grover Cleveland, the incumbent, in the general election, but lost to Cleveland in an 1892 rematch.
First Lady Caroline Scott Harrison was a daughter of the Rev. and Mrs. John Witherspoon Scott. Rev. Scott had been a faculty member at Miami (1828-1845) and at Farmers College (1845-1849) before returning to Oxford in 1849 to become principal of the Oxford Female Institute.
Rev. Scott, who had been ordained in 1830 while an Oxford resident, was involved in the religious debates that led to removal of Bishop as Miami's first president. Scott and Bishop had been allies in the in-fighting among Miami faculty, administration and trustees. Scott followed Bishop to Farmers College.
A sampling of Butler County men schooled at Farmers College includes John S. Earhart, Murat Halstead and Ferdinand Van Derveer -- none known as scientific farmers.
Earhart, at age 37, left a successful career as a civil engineer to accept command of Company C of the 35th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment at the start of the Civil War in 1861.
Previously, Earhart had joined his father in engineering and building turnpikes and other projects in Butler County and Southwestern Ohio. In the early 1840s, father and son designed and built the Hamilton Hydraulic, the basis for Hamilton's long era of industrialization.
The son, John, supervised the construction of the Junction Railway from Hamilton across the Great Miami River and through Oxford to the Indiana line at College Corner. He built the 700-foot river bridge and the 665-foot viaduct with 17 arches across South B and South C streets in the lowland of Hamilton's West Side. CSX trains still use Earhart's imposing stone viaduct.
Earhart's professional skills led to promotion to topographical engineer for the Army of the Cumberland. While in that post in August 1863, he died of disease.
Murat Halstead, a Ross Township native, was a prolific writer, reporter and editor, whose work influenced national officeholders and political leaders as well as voters in the last half of the 19th century. He was noted for detailed coverage of the presidential nominating conventions in 1860 (including the selection of Abraham Lincoln), and reporting major national and international events from the Civil War through the Spanish-American War.
Ferdinand Van Derveer was a Middletown native who practiced law in Hamilton. He served in the Mexican War and raised a regiment (the 35th Ohio) at the start of the Civil War. The Farmers College graduate rose to the rank of general. Before the war, he had been Butler County sheriff and an unsuccessful '49er in California. After the war, he was a respected county judge and Hamilton civic leader.
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Journal-News Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Steam locomotives ended local service 50 years ago
By Jim Blount
A romantic era ended 50 years ago when steam locomotives vanished from local railroads. By May 1958, diesel engines were pulling passenger and freight trains and performing switching duties on the four railroads that served Butler County.
Diesel locomotives had been developed decades earlier. Railroads were slow to change because of the uncertainty of the Depression and the increased traffic of World War II, 1941-45.
Burlington Railroad's much-publicized Pioneer Zephyr, introduced in the mid 1930s, popularized the diesel and other lines quickly followed with sleek, colorful streamlined passenger trains headed by diesel locomotives.
In 1941 a diesel manufacturer emphasized the advantages of the technology. It claimed "remarkably low operating cost and exceptionally high availability" with features "for lowering the cost of fuel, lubrication and maintenance."
That same year, in his book, Trains in Transition, Lucius Beebe wrote: "Because of their high availability (freedom from necessity for frequent major servicing and repair operations), one diesel passenger locomotive will do the work, broadly speaking, of two steam locomotives."
Beebe, a popular railroad writer and steam admirer, said "diesels, because of their more rapid accelerating ability in the lower speed brackets, long runs between fueling and other servicing operations, and ability to take the curves at higher safe speeds due to their lower center of gravity, can economically operate trains on somewhat faster schedules than any but the most up-to-the-minute steam units." He said fuel and other costs were about 50 percent of steam in "comparable service."
By the start of World War II in 1941, diesels had won acceptance and were beginning to supplant steam, but war demands on U. S. railroads extended the life of coal-fired steam locomotives into the 1950s.
In the late 1950s, a Journal-News writer noted that "the steam locomotive, long the 'king' of the clicking rails and the delight of American children since 1830, is fading away."
In 1950, the Pennsylvania -- which operated through Fairfield, Hamilton, Seven Mile, Eaton and Richmond -- was the first local railroad to retire steam power, according to Dan Finfrock of Fairfield, an expert on area railroads. But in 1952, because of a locomotive shortage, Finfrock said steam engines pulled Pennsylvania passenger trains for three months.
The first division of the Chesapeake & Ohio to be dieselized was the Cincinnati-Chicago line that formerly ran through Okeana in southwestern Butler County. That change came in mid 1952.
Steam ended in 1957 on the New York Central through Middletown and eastern Butler County.
Diesel-electric locomotives replaced steam on the Cincinnatian, the Baltimore & Ohio's classiest local passenger train, in September 1956. One of the Cincinnatian's four steam engines had been scrapped in 1955. The other three were torched in 1957. The Cincinnatian had begun Cincinnati-Detroit service through Fairfield, Hamilton, Trenton and West Middletown June 25, 1950, with streamlined royal blue steam locomotives.
Finfrock said the B&O's last steam operation through Hamilton, a freight run, was in mid May 1958. That unheralded operation ended the 107-year steam era on Butler County rails. After retirement, two B&O steam locomotives were stored in the Hamilton roundhouse at South Ninth and Long streets until May 10, 1959. On that date they were sent to Cincinnati to be scrapped.
Gradually, structures required to support steam operation disappeared from the Butler County landscape. They included track side water towers, coal chutes and roundhouses.
Fifty years later -- in the midst of an oil crisis -- improvements continue. Despite decades of diesel power, railroading remains, said a 2007 Trains magazine article, "an industry known for steam locomotives belching cumulus clouds of soot-laced coal and oil smoke."
In a recent ad, a diesel locomotive builder boasted that its latest model realizes "35 to 50 percent fuel savings capability." The manufacturer also said its diesel locomotive had "ultra-low emissions," including more than 80 percent reductions in some emissions. That feature wasn't emphasized in the late 1940s and 1950s when diesels replaced steam locomotives.