On a Small Town

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To municipalities of various sizes, the Ohio River is home. Numerous cities, towns, villages, and hamlets occupy the banks of the 981 miles (1579 km) from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Cairo, Illinois – but this post is about only one of them.

Neville, Ohio is a rural village along the Mighty Ohio in the southern part of my county (Clermont). Other than driving through it several times over the past 40 years, my history with Neville is nil. Founded in 1808 by Gen. Presley Neville, a Revolutionary War veteran. The US government established a post office there in Neville 10 years later – which is still operating today.

From the war memorial, to store names, to officials, certain families have dominated its history – but that’s normal in a small town. By 1880, Neville’s commercial district was vibrant as the population grew to 445.

Being along the Ohio River, Neville has battled its share of floods – especially the major floods of 1913, 1919, 1937, 1964, and 1997. The ‘97 flood the caused more than half of the population to move because, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) bought land and demolished buildings so nobody would build again on those locations.

As a village, Neville depended on funding assistance from the Ohio’s Local Government Fund. In 2010, in order to balance the state’s budget, our newly elected governor slashed the fund’s existence. Besides saving the state money, the survival-of-the-fittest approach would force local governments to either streamline their expenditures to become part of the surrounding township or merge with another municipality.

In the last 10 years, about 10 governments have dissolved – the majority since the 2011. Ohio Auditor’s office gave Neville’s mayor a choice: vote to dissolve or eventually face a court-ordered dissolution.

Today, Neville’s population of 100 has a median income of about $31,000. No businesses exist within its boundaries … and the state of Ohio has a budget surplus. This past March 15th, voters in three more villages across Ohio faced the dissolution decision on the ballot.

Somerville (Butler County) will close its doors, but Smithfield (Jefferson County) and Neville thumbed their noses at the state in order to live another day – at least until the next dissolution vote.


On a Rite of Spring

Thousands of people descend on downtown for a parade, the game, and the general excitement of this annual rite of spring. The young and old, male and female, tall and short, rich and poor, workers and nonworkers, locals and out-of-towners … most dressed in red.

Many workers do not go to work – and many of those who do are not as productive. Kids skip school – and many those who do not face a day of study halls or atypical activities. These behaviors happen every year – thus predictable – then normality follows the next day.

For those who do not know, professional baseball started in Cincinnati. For many years, a Reds home game served as the start to the Major League Baseball (MLB) season. In recent years, that tradition has given way to MLB’s quest for more money, but the Cincinnati Reds remain as the only team that starts the season with a home game – so this day was Opening Day…a special day in Cincinnati … and no other city in the country embraces the day as my city along the Ohio River.

After a horrendous winter, weather brought us sun and warmth. With this setting serving as the perfect opportunity for me to get away from the move-related activities, I went downtown to join thousands of others who were also dressed in red.

For ease and convenience, I parked on the Newport, Kentucky side of the river, and emerged from the garage at Newport on the Levy …

Newport on the Levy with shops, eateries, theaters, and an aquarium

Newport on the Levy with shops, eateries, theaters, and an aquarium

… then had lunch at this establishment (the owners won venture capital money on Shark Tank) …


Excellent source for grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup

Excellent source for grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup

… the Cincinnati skyline and the quiet baseball stadium 4 hours before game time

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood

… the Ohio side with three sports venues on the river and a glimpse of the Brooklyn Bridge’s prototype

Cincinnati has a beautiful riverfront ... and parks are behind me

Cincinnati has a beautiful riverfront … and parks are behind me

… looking back to Covington, Kentucky and the other end of our famous bridge

Daniel Libeskind designed the building with the slanted roof

Daniel Libeskind designed the building with the slanted roof

… while walking beside the stadium, banners remind me of important events in Reds history

Sorry Yankee fans, but our Big Red Machine was one of the best teams ever

Sorry Yankee fans, but our Big Red Machine was one of the best teams ever

… fans eagerly awaiting the start of the festivities around Great American Ball Park

The party goers are just to the right (next pic)

The party goers are just to the right (next pic)

… but many others found a party a short distance away

This must be the no-alcohol zone

This must be the no-alcohol zone

… but for me on this day, I was heading into the city center where thousands gathered for an Opening Day tradition … and that will come in a post next week … besides, I didn’t have a ticket to the game.

On the River

My sister-in-law was in town last weekend, and Friday was a beautiful day – so we took BB Riverboats‘ 2-hour sightseeing cruise on the Ohio River. Because my wife and I also had a similar trip in the summer, thought I would combine the images into a cruise on the Ohio River for everyone.

Because many other blogs are doing fall walks, let’s take a river cruise.  So, sit back and enjoy the sights … and if you like, join Guapo for a beer on the top deck.

Here, the Ohio River separates Ohio and Kentucky. Interestingly, Kentucky owns the river. Given this is a metropolitan area, numerous (I think 7) bridges exist.

Not as prominent as the gold domes we saw in Russia, Cincinnatians are proud of the Roebling Suspension Bridge – the bridge serving as Mr. Roebling’s prototype for the famed Brooklyn Bridge.

Ready for the Halloween season – It’s the USS Nightmare serving as the haunted boat on the Kentucky side!

I grew up in a small town along the Ohio River, and river barges are a common sight – but this is a small one.

After reversing course in order to return to the dock, I like this view of Mt. Adams with a peek of downtown.

Downtown Cincinnati with the Serpentine Wall and one of the string of parks along the waterfront. This wall is the best seat for the Labor Day fireworks extravaganza known as Riverfest. Hey Guapo, 30 minutes of fireworks shot from the river choreographed to music … the waterfall from a bridge is my favorite.

On this particular summer night, we returned to the dock to find our beloved Cincinnati Reds playing.

Hope you enjoyed the cruise.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 88

On Japan
Last Friday we awaken to the news of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. I encourage everyone to donate to an organization that can provide help.

Blessings and God speed to all the courageous workers fighting the issues at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Meanwhile, a few continue to refer to the calamities as a punishment from God. Good news is that is NOT the God that I trust.

On an Interesting Signs
Not all that long ago, I was on I-65 south of Louisville, Kentucky, and then saw this interesting sign: Used Cows for Sale. I find differentiating cows as new and used as a bit odd, but also humorous – and I believe that the humor is the sign poster’s intent. If you are ever on I-65 in Kentucky, watch for this sign on the east side between mile markers 78 and 79. Meanwhile, a few hours south along I-65, there also a billboard for Big Jim’s Boobie Bungalow.

On a few Political Shorts
A recent Washington Post poll reveals that Sarah Palin has a very high disapproval rating. Well – there’s a shock, so did we really need the Washington Post to let us know?

As we listen to all the budget talk, let us remember that our legislators will continue to protect the sacred cows of their district and those of their financial supporters. Meanwhile, all their hoopla focuses on about 12% of the budget, thus avoiding the remaining 88% like the plague.

Columnist David Ignatius had this worth-reading piece about the situations about the demonstrations in Arab countries.

On a Rise and Fall
Last fall we vacationed in the Charlottesville, VA area. (FYI: A wonderful area) A friend, who frequently visits wineries in the area, recommended wineries for us to visit – including the Kluge Estate Winery. I’m glad we got there in October because soon thereafter, things started to happen. See this article from Forbes.

On March Madness
The madness of the NCAA tournament has begun. Within two hours of my house, tournament teams include Cincinnati, Xavier, Ohio State, Louisville, Kentucky, Butler, and Morehead. For me, I’ll be happy as long as ABK wins … anybody but Kentucky.

Meanwhile, the drought goes on for these schools since their last tournament appearance: Bowling Green (1968) Ouch … that one hurts; Columbia (1968), Tennessee Tech (1963), Yale (1962), Maine (never, eligible since 1962), New Hampshire (never, eligible since 1962), Dartmouth (1959), Harvard (1946), Army (1948), Citadel (never, eligible since 1948), Northwestern (never, eligible since 1948), St. Francis (N.Y.) (never, eligible since 1948), and William & Mary (never, eligible since 1948).

On the Flooding Ohio
Last weekend we were along the Ohio River, with its flooding waters and fast rate of flow. Not only was it a reminder of the days of my youth as I grew up in a small town along the river, but also of the dangers. Very close to our hotel, the water dislodged one of the floating restaurants. Fortunately, it didn’t go far as it hit a bridge and become lodged; plus all the patrons were safely removed.

On a Different Event for the Weekend
Last week I we attended a handbell convention. Definitely an interesting event, and between rehearsals and workshops, there wasn’t much down time. Try to imagine what a 670-member choir might sound like. The video below will give you an idea, but it only has 420 ringers. Have a good weekend.

On Majesty upon the Water

hometown1I grew up in a small town shaped like a shoestring as it nestled between the sandstone hills and a sweeping bend on the Ohio River. It’s a picturesque town, especially from the river or the other side. I saw the river everyday, knew its serenity and playful nature, as well as the flood waters that entered storefronts and even filled the street in front of our house.

River barge traffic was common place, yet I recall my wife’s initial amazement with the sight. Orville, a friend in junior high, liked to talk about his father working on the river. One day while by the river we noticed a barge coming around the bend, so we decided to test Orville with, “What’s the boat’s name?” Orville calmly looked at his watch, part forth a name, and then we waited … and 10 minutes later, we knew Orville’s passion was right.

Depending on the time of day, twice a year would bring a treat – one signaled by the distant sounds of the approaching calliope. This sound of a bygone era would bring people to the river; just to watch and wave to her majesty and its passengers on its journey to or from Pittsburgh.

The Delta Queen, built in 1926, is the last of the overnight steamboats, and a link to times past. I’m now in Cincinnati, Delta Queen’s official home and locally owned from 1946 through 1969; and this city always looks forward to its May visit, as well as during Tall Stacks, an every-four-years-or-so major river festival attracting many riverboats to the Queen City.

The Delta Queen is much smaller and less modern than its contemporary cousin, the Mississippi Queen, but it’s the Delta Queen. Whether it’s docked or cruising the river, its mere presence embodies majestic grandeur and unbridled respect. Of course Cincinnati always cheer for it in its annual race against the Belle of Louisville during Derby week along the Lousiville riverfront.

Majestic America Lines, the Delta Queen’s operator, is now out of business. The Delta Queen lays still in New Orleans; forced to stop sailing after it lost its congressional exemption from a fire safety rule; now only moving from the ripples created by the passing traffic, thus maybe to never race the Belle again. The mere thought of partisan politics is difficult to accept; along with the rumors of its sale, potential gutting, or conversion into a stationsary hotel.

The Delta Queen, both a National Register of Historic Place and a National Historic Landmark, was recently nominated for the National Trust for Preservation list of America’s Most Endangered Historic Places. She deserves more than a mere sideshow because she’s the Delta Queen.

Think about all the national treasures found throughout the USA; and there are many.  The Delta Queen is a national treasure revered by all the towns and cities along the rivers in America’s heartland. She deserves to be saved, and saved as she is – and that is the mission of the grassroots organization, Save the Delta Queen.

And for Orville, wherever he may be, I think he approves this message.


Image courtesy of Majestic America Lines