Taming the mighty Mill Creek

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Tomorrow I embark on an adventure few in this area would ever consider doing – canoeing down the Mill Creek.

It won’t be my first time. The last time was May 1, 2007 when we left from Spring Grove Avenue and got out near the Ohio River – in utter filth. What I learned on that trip is that the Mill Creek is in much better shape than it has been since the introduction of industry along its banks. Though it can change from day-to-day, the water for 90 percent of its length is safe for humans to be in and around, which was never the case years ago. That’s why you – if you’re from the Greater Cincinnati area – are probably aghast at what I have done and plan to do again tomorrow.

I was also surprised to find an abundance of life living in and around the creek, including spawning fish, snakes and turtles. I saw rushing rapids flowing over resistant rocks, creating a gorgeous display of one of nature’s enduring beauties – a moving stream. Above us and around us were highways with trucks and cars, plus railroad tracks with giant locomotives moving in and out of town. Along side us were closed factories, a wheat mill, a rail yard and a sewage treatment plant. There were also beautiful tall, green grasses and other vegetation that did not seem to know that common knowledge says they should not be there. All that touches the Mill Creek dies. Not so anymore, apparently.

Trash in the Mill Creek near the Ohio River
Trash in the Mill Creek near the Ohio Rover

Tomorrow, I will be hosted again by Commodore Bruce Koehler, a member of the “Mill Creek Yacht Club,” a tongue-in-cheek “organization” of people who are passionate about our local environment, study it and can teach us about what we are seeing. Dr. Mike Miller, a University of Cincinnati professor of aquatic ecology, will also be on the trip again. His insights are instrumental in educating the trip’s partipants on the transformation of the Mill Creek watershed and what it once was before that much-needed makeover.

We are taking a different trip than last time. This time we are starting farther north, in Sharonville, and ending up in Reading. The whole trip is about 6 1/4 miles and is expected to take about five hours. I plan to bring a notebook, my Tevos, a video camera and a still camera. For now, though, check out the beautiful – and some disturbing – photos from the 2007 trip. Click on the above photo to be taken to the Flickr set.

Queen City Discovery: The Clifton Friars Club

As my previous post said, I have an interest in discovering unknown parts of Cincinnati.

So, this morning I was happy to see Queen City Discovery’s post exploring the demolition site of The Cincinnati Friar’s Club in Clifton Clifton Heights.

“…the Cincinnati Friars club dated back to 1860 and serves as an organization that provides outreach to disadvantaged children through physical activity. The club relocated and abandoned this structure in 2006. Demolition had just begun earlier that week as “Cincinnati’s 8th Precinct” began climbing over the rubble into what remained of the Friars Club.

via Queen City Discovery: The Clifton Friars Club.

There are some great photos on their site. Click over and check it out.

(NOTE: There are a couple references in the blog post that make no sense to me. “Cincinnati’s 8th Precinct” would one. Is this an inside joke? A reference to themselves or the Friar’s Club as a place for troubled children? I have no idea. Would be nice if the author(s) cleared that and a few other things up.)

Guy attempts to re-claim bike that he thought was his – while it’s on bus bike rack

A man who thought he was re-claiming his stolen bike off a bus rack was told by a bus rider – and the bike’s real owner – he might want to re-think his action.

This all happened while I was riding a bus downtown from the University of Cincinnati:

While a Cincinnati Metro bus was stopped for a traffic light at West McMilan Street and Clifton Avenue, a man got out of a car heading eastbound on McMillan and walked up and snatched the bike on the bus’s front bike rack off the rack. The man who put the bike there and was riding the bus, saw this happen, immediately got off the bus and confronted the guy who was taking the red, silver and black bike away.

At that exact moment, a Cincinnati police officer was heading south on Clifton, about to turn west onto McMillan. The man from the bus, now in a tug ‘o war struggle with the man who brazenly took the bike off the bike rack, flagged down the police officer, who stopped.

“This is my bike,” the man who took the bike said to the officer.

“No, it’s mine,” the man from the bus said.

The bus driver exited the bus and spoke to the officer. After a few minutes the bus rider, now in possession of his bike, took it and put it back on the bike rack. The officer got each partys’ name and the bus rider boarded the bus. Riders on the bus applauded him as he took his seat. The man who attempted to take the bike continued to talk with the officer outside, appearing frustrated.

The man who re-claimed his bike, got back on the bus and, out of breathe, took his seat.

“He said that I stole the bike. I had that bike for 10 years,” the bus rider announced to the bus, after someone shouted for him to explain what happened. “He told me he got it some place else. There’s a Montgomery Cyclery sticker right on the bike. That was pretty (bold) to do that.”

A younger woman on the bus, who identified herself as a frequent bus rider,  said she had never witnessed someone try to take a bike off a bus’s bike rack before.

“I’ve seen people snatch an iPod and run out the back door as the bus pulled away,” she said. “But never anything like (what just happened).”

She said she has watched as  someone sitting in the seat nearest the rear bus door had their iPod stolen right out of their hands. She said another person exiting the bus snatches it from their hands – from behind their back. The thief then runs off before the driver is alerted a crime has occurred.

Parking enforcement officer writes ticket for after 8 – before 8

Just watched as a neighbor of mine got a ticket for parking in an after-8 a.m. truck loading zone along Perry Street in downtown Cincinnati (even though this alley hasn’t been used for loading trucks in probably 30 years). Only problem was it wasn’t after 8 a.m. – even when the officer handed the neighbor her ticket.

I watched out my bedroom window as she showed the officer her cell phone (which carries a signal from her wireless service that maintains the exact real time, lapse a 10-30 seconds). She was rather upset – the ticket costs $50 – but the officer would not even budge.

So, I went out and said I looked on the two computers I had open and on, both with automatically updated Internet time (also very accurate) and my cell phone and said she was right and he was wrong. His response? Look at the ticket.

She showed me the ticket. “8:00 a.m., April 2, 2010.” No Day-After April Fool’s Day joke here. I told him that even right then, as we “discussed” the ticket, it was only 8:01 a.m. so there is no way it was after 8 a.m. when he wrote the ticket.

I encouraged the woman to go to the ” parking court.” Court, in this case, is a closet with a hearing officer (“judge”), an appointee who also works as a lawyer someplace else, who almost always lets parking violaters off the first time they appear before him (or sit next to him, as is the case in Hamilton County) and usually halves fines if you take the time to go on subsequent visits. I know this from personal experience – I had a few “surprise” tickets when I lived in Over-the-Rhine. The surprise was I never got them, likely removed from the windshield by some board passer-by (and we had more than our share of those types). The excuse took with the judge  because I had actually paid, on time, other tickets over the years.

But this all comes at a cost: The experience for those living in downtown Cincinnati. It is one we cannot afford right now. And this is a stupid way for the city to make up expenses in a gigantic budget hole.

In an effort to beef up parking enforcement, officers (the parking kind, not police) have been armed with electronic ticket-writing devices that dramatically speed up the process. There apparently also have been several new hires in the past 18 months or so, making the force larger than it has been in recent years (this is an observation). Couple that with a more than doubling of the original $14 fine (as it was until 2005, late, as I recall) to the now $35 fine for parking at an expired meter, and I think we have ourselves a grand way for the city to make money for itself.

Good. No new taxes, right? But it comes at the expense of creating massive discontent about living downtown. Parking spaces – like on Perry Street – still reflect an industrial alleyway where trucks needed to park throughout the day. Now, it’s low-hanging fruit for parking enforcement folks and the bane of people who live in the former warehouses and manufacturing facilities now converted into townhomes, condos and apartments – the people who are making downtown work again.

Should parking on the street be made legal for anyone? No, but there are best practices from other cities of similar size that allow for residents to park on the street near their residence.

Cincinnati has a similar ordinance. Why haven’t you heard of it? It’s pretty fascinating, actually. Passed in the early 1980s, but it has never been used once, because the burden for residents to enact is nearly insurmountable. Why? Who knows for sure. It was either an extremely poor piece of legislation or doing exactly what it was intended to do. I have (or had) a copy of the ordinance, and some accompanying complaints by current and former Council members, and will track that down and discuss that in a future post.

Shadowhare’s real name revealed

A Cincinnati police officer has revealed local super hero as none other than “Cleveland Cummins.”

Information apparently revealed during conversation with the regular-citizen-turned-crime fighter.

Unknown residence, age or other pertitent vital information.

Will update as new information becomes available.

Cincinnati superhero Shadowhare makes downtown apprehension

Local Cincinnati super hero Shadowhare and his sidekick Silver Moon were seen downtown recently in Piatt Park making an apprehension. Using his 20,000-volt stun ray, he shocked me – yes, me – into submission. I have no further comment at this time.

Cincinnati census office opening to be a grand spectacle

Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory and Hamilton County Commission President David Pepper are celebrating the opening of the 2010 U.S. Census Cincinnati office with an amazing amount of fanfare.

Here’s the “Who” part of the press release sent out this morning. Note that the regulars are at the beginning, added by an ever-increasing amount of, well, relatively strange folks to be at a census office opening.

Mayor Mark Mallory, Hamilton County Board of Commissioners President David Pepper, Ohio Governor’s Regional Director Brewster Rhoads, Ohio State Representative Denise Driehaus, Director of the U. S. Census Bureau Detroit Region Dwight P. Dean, Cincinnati Local Census Office Manager George Conner, Reverend Doris Hoskins, Lebanon High School Color Guard, Cincinnati Public School of Creative and Performing Arts harpists and vocalist, and a host of Cincinnati and Hamilton County leaders and dignitaries…

Why night have the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, all the employees of Duke Energy, the Westwood Blue Devils 4th grade softball team, Larry Flynt and the ghosts of Marge Schott and Peanut Jim there, too?

It’s all happening at 2 p.m. today at the local census office, 801 Linn Street, 4th Floor, Cincinnati, Ohio 45203-1603 (map).

I agree the census is important and more important than past city leaders have made it. It just seems like a lot to do for an office of literal bean counters. Funny, too. Might have to go just to see the grand spectacle.

Nixon tree infested with bugs

Nixon tree infested with bugs

Originally uploaded by hjoew

In Memorial Grove at Cincinnati’s Eden Park there are trees planted in honor of each President of the United States after they leave office. The tree honoring President Richard M. Nixon had to be chopped down recently after, ironically, it was infested with bugs.

Two exceptions to presidential trees so far: Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Why? Well, Bush’s tree is coming it just hasn’t been planted yet, I’m told. While Clinton never responded to a courtesy letter from the Cincinnati Park Board notifying him that it would be planted. Other presidents have acknowledged the plantings prior to their tree’s roots being sunk into the ground. But Clinton did not, so park officials never planted it.

Eventually, I’m told through a second-hand source, that a tree will be planted regardless. But, hey, President Clinton, can we get a little acknowledgment here? A letter, a phone call, a visit to town to turn the first shovel of dirt?