City of Middletown News & Updates
Welcome to City of Middletown News & Updates!
Check out our information for the Middletown community and surrounding areas as well as media releases for upcoming and current events and activities.
Middletown City Council Holds Work Session for ARPA Funds and Capital Improvement Projects
On Saturday, January 21, Middletown City Council held a work session focused on the City’s American Rescue Plan Act and Capital Improvement funds for 2023. The City will be allocating the ARPA money, which must be earmarked by the end of 2024, in the following areas:
- An additional $500,000 would be allocated to the planned mixed-use development proposed at the southeast corner of SR 122 and Union Road. This helps to set the stage for growth of the more than 50 acres of property for entertainment, sporting, housing, office space, and retail development.
- Economic Development - $1.25 million is projected for site readiness improvements and small business grant program.
- Neighborhood Revitalization - $800,000 would support revitalization of targeted areas of the City in addition to cleaning-up and remediating vacant lots.
- Downtown revitalization - $3 million would be allocated to support the redevelopment of the downtown. The City is hopes to announce a strategic partnership with expert development firm the very near future.
- Sorg Opera House – The City will provide $265,000 to the Sorg organization for financial assistance with the important Middletown historic property and icon.
- Parks & Rec (non-capital)
- The City would allocate up to $200,000 assigned for special events in the City. Fund may also be able to assist with new recreation activities and programming for residents and visitors alike.
Approximately $3.4 million in ARPA funds remain unassigned at this time. City Council will continue to examine additional funding needs and projects in the coming months.
City Capital Improvements
City Council adopted a policy in 2021 that calls for a portion of the City’s general fund reserves to be redirected, annually, toward unfunded capital improvement needs. Work session discussions centered on the following:
New Fire Stations Construction- $5 million will be proposed, due to inflation and other factors, to assist in the financing of the City’s four new fire stations.
Middletown City Parks Investments – The City’s Master Plan provides direction and guidance for improvements in the City’s parks - $2 million is proposed to implement the first phase of a multi-year rollout of park improvements and repairs.
City Building Improvements - The HVAC system in city hall needs replacement. The proposed $2.9 million project will provide a safe and healthy work environment for City employees and our residents that visit daily.
City of Middletown Promotes Five Within Division of Fire
At Tuesday’s City of Middletown Council Meeting, five Division of Fire members were promoted.
With 26 years of experience in Middletown, Stephen Ludwig was promoted to Assistant Fire Chief from Deputy Chief. He received his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from the University of Cincinnati and Master of Science in Safety, Security, and Emergency Management from Eastern Kentucky University and holds numerous technical rescue certifications. Additionally, he earned Executive Fire Officer (EFO) from the National Fire Academy. Assistant Chief Ludwig has served the City as a paramedic, fire instructor, lieutenant, captain, and deputy chief since 2020. Also attending the meeting with him were his wife, Beth, daughters Brittany and Kenzie, sons Steven and AJ, and his grandson JP. His son AJ pinned his AC badge to his uniform.
Newly appointed Deputy Fire Chief Brian Wright has served the City of Middletown since January 2002. He has served as the Fire Department’s head of EMS services since 2019 and served as a paramedic, fire instructor, lieutenant, and captain. DC Wright earned his Associate’s Degree in Fire Science from Eastern Gateway Community College and is a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Command and Control of Multiple Alarms. He also holds several technical rescue certifications. He will continue his education in the fire service with Ohio Fire Chief’s Ohio Fire Executive (OFE) Program in the spring.
Ben Bultman comes from a line of family members in the fire service with his sister as a lieutenant with Montgomery Fire Department and a cousin, a firefighter and paramedic at Little Miami Clermont. On the Middletown Fire Department since 2013, he was promoted to Fire Captain. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Emergency and Disaster Management from American Military University as well as technical rescue certifications and serves as a paramedic and fire instructor. Captain Bultman currently serves as the Union President for IAFF Local 336 and is a member of Butler County IMAT team.
Ryan Pennekamp began his career in Middletown in 2012 and was promoted to lieutenant. He comes from a family of public safety servants with his grandfather a Cincinnati Firefighter, his father retired Cincinnati Police Officer, and his brother currently the Chief of Police for the Village of Addyston. He earned his paramedic certification in 2009 and has additional certifications such as swift water rescue, rope rescue, and advanced auto extrication. Additionally, Pennekamp is the department’s SCBA repair tech.
“These fire officers have the training, education and most importantly the experience, to successfully lead the fire division into the future,” stated Middletown Fire Chief Tom Snively. “What I am most proud of is the attitude of compassion and dedication in which these firefighters serve.”
City of Middletown Announces a Potential New Housing Development at Former School Site
On Tuesday, January 3, Middletown City Council will consider a resolution granting Ohio Regional Contractors, LLC (Brandon Homes) the opportunity to redevelop the former Roosevelt School site on Central Avenue. The redevelopment plan proposes the construction of 20 new single-family residential lots in the heart of Middletown. Council’s approval of the measure would allow Brandon Homes until the end 2023 to perform pre-development and due diligence work on the site.
The concept plan calls for the new homes to front on Central Avenue and along a new public street that will be constructed as part of the redevelopment. The project would also create a hiking/biking trail that connects to Sunset Park from Central Avenue. Council’s approval also requires adherence to specific housing design standards that represent the current neighborhood décor and other conditions to ensure the proposed development’s timely completion and sustainability for the future.
This new residential development creates an opportunity to repurpose vacant land and encourage families to move to and grow in Middletown by providing new housing options.
Kyle Schwarber Returns to Middletown with Santa
Hometown native, Kyle Schwarber, will return to Middletown in November to be the Grand Marshall in the Santa Parade on Saturday, November 26, 2022. The parade will begin at 4 p.m. at Governor’s Square on Central Avenue downtown Middletown.
Schwarber was an all-star multisport athlete for Middletown High School football and baseball. He was drafted as the fourth pick in the first round in 2014 by the Chicago Cubs. Additionally, he played for Washington Nationals and Boston Red Sox in 2021. In 2022, he signed a 4-year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies which took him to the World Series where he led the National League in home runs for the season.
Through all of this, Schwarber never forgot his hometown, and felt the importance of bringing baseball back to the City’s youth. In 2021, he did just that after a 15-year absence encouraging almost 300 kids to register and play in Middletown youth baseball league. In addition, he began Schwarber’s Neighborhood Heroes that honors first responders (police and fire personnel) and military. Through his organization, he has been able to assist many police departments, fire departments, military groups including our very own City of Middletown through golf benefits and other events.
Kyle continues to donate and recognize organizations close to his heart, especially those in Middletown. He is a true example of a proud Middie staying involved in the Middletown community that includes planting roots here.
Robert “Sonny” Hill Community Center Opens New Gaming Center
The Robert “Sonny” Hill Community Center opened a new state-of-the-art game center to the Middletown community on Wednesday, October 12. The Middie Game Center primarily serves Middletown youth and features gaming options such as Occulus, X-Box, Switch. The opening of this new area of the community center is two-folded for Middletown kids; it offers opportunities for kids to expand into career areas of ESports, game design, graphic design, and much more. It also provides kids the ability to do the things they enjoy in a safe place to be afterschool. Middletown Superintendent Marlon Styles stated during the Grand Opening, “There are a number of careers that kids have access to in this space. This is a blessing for the community. More importantly, it will provide more opportunities for our students.” Middletown City Manager Paul Lolli stated, “This is just wonderful, and this is just the start of things to come here. The future we’re going to have with this property that will create opportunities for our kids to achieve academically, socially, and emotionally. Our partnerships with CBI and Middletown City School District will only get stronger through all of this creating more areas of opportunity for the kids of Middletown.”
An anonymous donor provided the $25,000 funds for the Middie Game Center, which was spearheaded by King Hightower Strategies, an Ohio premier marketing and strategy company based in Middletown, OH. Co-Founders Stephen Hightower II and Matt King designed the superhero-themed room and spoke about their reasons for wanting to create this space. “We wanted to bring something great to the community for the kids. The Middie Game Center is state of art and is a precursor to what’s yet to come,” Steven Hightower II stated. King explained how the computers and games unlock time for the kids after they finish their homework and academic work; therefore, keeping their focus on academics and still allowing them to have access to the games and activities they really enjoy. They, then, earn coins for play once they complete their work. Additionally, children have the ability to be creative in the room creating Tik Tok videos. Potentially down the road, the center directors hope to have options for students to learn computer coding, game design, and much more, which are becoming popular career options for today’s youth.
Matt King added, “This project is unique because it exemplifies not waiting for something to happen but making something happen. It’s an exciting new space, and it’s all happening at a great place and location.”
The Community Center will receive a significant facelift next Spring. Through a collaboration between Middletown City Schools and the City of Middletown, the eight-million-dollar project will include the creation of five new preschool classrooms, additional space for after-school programming, teen and adult recreation, enrichment activities, and community space.
Sonny Hill Community Center Visioning Process:
Butler County Board of Commissioners Awards City of Middletown ARPA Money for Paperboard Site
The City of Middletown will receive funding from Butler County Board of Commissioners to remediate the former Paperboard property along the Route 4 corridor. Butler County is providing the City $3 million from their American Rescue Plan allotment in order to advance a plan that will develop the site for future businesses.
On January 1, 2020, the property was destroyed by a fire that had engulfed it in flames when Middletown Division of Fire, along with Monroe, Liberty Township, and Franklin Fire Departments arrived on the scene. The abandoned property includes 14 acres.
The site was most recently owned by BP Logan Corporation and was foreclosed upon by Butler County Auditor in October 2018. City of Middletown gained ownership of the property from Butler County through forfeiture to the State of Ohio around the time of the fire. The City demolished a few buildings on the site since 2020. This important funding will allow the City to complete the remediation process on the Paperboard site and revitalize it into productive use to the benefit of the City and Butler County. Paul Lolli, Acting City Manager shared, “The City of Middletown appreciates the generous support of the Butler County Commissioners in this redevelopment effort.”
City of Middletown 4th of July Independence Day Celebration
Celebration begins at 4 p.m. at Smith Park in Middletown. Come out to hear the bands I Dig Pig and Dayton Funk Allstars and stay for the fireworks/Pyro Jump presented by Yokum and Fastrax Skydivers.
Middletown Firefighter Promoted to Captain
At the Tuesday June 7 Middletown City Council meeting, Middletown Division of Fire Assistant Chief promoted Andrew Turner to the rank of Captain. Pinning Captain Turner was his wife, Heather, with additional family looking on. Captain Turner was a member of the first D. Russell Lee Fire Academy class in 1995, which is now a part of Butler Tech. He began his career as a Middletown Firefighter a short time later in April of 2000. He was promoted to Squadman in January of 2003 and Fire Apparatus Operator in August, 2014. Captain Turner rose to Fire Lieutenant in October of 2019. He earned degrees in EMS Management and Fire Technology and Leadership through Cincinnati State in 2019 and completed Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership program through Ohio Fire Chief’s Association. Captain Turner represents the Middletown community as a Medical Team Lead with Dayton Honor Flight, an organization that transports area veterans to Washington D.C. to visit the memorials and honor their service to the United States Military Service.
Middletown Police Department and Middletown Fire Department Speak with Leadership Club Students
Middletown Police Department and Middletown Fire Department hosted community students in the Leadership Club on Wednesday, May 4, at the Sonny Hill Community Center. MPD and MFD members offered the 13 to 14-year old students a better understanding of their jobs and how they interact in the community. Students gained insight and perspective into the day to day activities of first responders and what it takes to be a police officer or firefighter/EMT. “It is an honor to mentor the youth of the community we serve. The Middletown Police Department prides itself on the partnerships we continue to build upon with the community,” stated Chief Birk. MPD Chief Birk, Deputy Chief Crank, and Detective W shared their experiences of being on the police department as well as things the students can do to better support their community. Det. W showed the students how he collects fingerprints and other types of evidence on crime scenes. “The kids of Middletown are our future, so anything we can do to help them is a bonus for us.”
Likewise, members of the Station 81 platoon from MFD spoke with the students about what it’s like to be a firefighter and paramedic in addition to showing the students some of the items they use on emergency runs such as the heart monitor, an intravenous line with fluids, and chest compression tool in addition to providing access to the trucks. “It’s very exciting to see our youth interested in a career in public safety. The Middletown Division of Fire continually works with Middletown City Schools and children to engage students for a career in the fire service,” stated Acting City Manager and Fire Chief Paul Lolli.
Middletown City Council recently approved additional funds for the Leadership Club to continue at the Community Center. The money improves the quality of the programs and allows the opportunity for more community children to participate and gain important experiences.
The City of Middletown Receives Award for Excellence in Financial Reporting
The City of Middletown received a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) of the United States and Canada. The award recognizes the city for its annual comprehensive financial report for the fiscal year that ended December 31, 2020. “This is the City’s 35th year in a row winning the award,” stated Samantha Zimmermann, City of Middletown Director of Finance. “Our goal is to strive for transparency in all aspects of governmental accounting and financial reporting.”
An impartial panel judges the report “to meet the high standards of the program, which includes demonstrating a constructive spirit of full disclosure to clearly communicate its financial story and motivate potential users and user groups to read the report.”
The GFOA honors government organizations with the Certificate of Achievement, which is the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting. Attaining this level of success is a significant accomplishment for the city and city administrators.
Middletown Earns Mark of Distinction, Receives Tree City USA Growth Award from Arbor Day Foundation
Small percentage of Tree City USA participants ultimately earn Growth Award Honor due to a continued dedication towards building a sustainable community
Middletown, Ohio (3/30/2022) - Middletown received Tree City USA Growth Award for the 4th year by the Arbor Day Foundation that honors its commitment to effective urban forest management. Middletown is in its 14th year of earning a Mark of Distinction through the Arbor Day Foundation as well.
The Growth Award is bestowed upon the City of Middletown alongside their Tree City USA recognition for demonstrating environmental improvement and a higher level of tree care. To earn the Growth Award, the city achieved major milestones and performed annual activities that earned points in five categories that build sustainable community forestry programs over the long term such as: building a team, measuring trees and forests, planning the work, performing the work, and building the community framework. “The City of Middletown is committed to maintaining a healthy urban forest and continually working to improve our efforts to strengthen and support our canopy infrastructure,” stated Allison Manning, City of Middletown Natural Resources Coordinator. “The trees throughout our city provide essential shade, clean the air and support a living ecosystem, benefitting water quality and providing food and habitat for wildlife. It’s estimated that Middletown’s urban forest removes 182,000 lbs./year of air pollution and provides a value of 219 million gallons in avoided storm water runoff within the city according to i-Tree Analysis tools, making it a vital part of Middletown’s infrastructure. Middletown’s committed toward tree health provides spaces in the community with a populous of trees on city property. While the Park Board is a small group of volunteers, they are dedicated in establishing new tree canopy in city parks, medians, and city properties.
In addition to celebrating the Tree City USA Growth Award and in conjunction with Earth Day on April 22 and Arbor Day on April 29, the City of Middletown will participate in Earth Day Clean-up on Saturday, April 23. Please visit the following website to participate and help Keep Middletown Beautiful! https://keepmiddletownbeautiful.org/city-wide-earth-day-cleanup/
"Tree City USA communities can experience the positive effects that an urban tree canopy has year after year," said Dan Lambe, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. "The trees being planted and cared for by Middletown are ensuring that generations to come will enjoy a better quality of life. Additionally, participation in this program helps cultivate a sense of stewardship and pride for the trees the community plants and cares for."
More information on the program is available at www.arborday.org/TreeCityUSA
About the Arbor Day Foundation
Founded in 1972, the Arbor Day Foundation has grown to become the largest nonprofit membership organization dedicated to planting trees, with more than one million members, suppo1ters and valued partners. Since 1972, almost 500 million Arbor Day Foundation trees have been planted in neighborhoods, communities, cities and forests throughout the world. Our vision is to lead toward a world where trees are used to solve issues critical to survival.
As one of the world's largest operating conservation foundations, the Arbor Day Foundation, through its members, partners and programs, educates and engages stakeholders and communities across the globe to involve themselves in its mission of planting, nurturing and celebrating trees. More information is available at arborday.org.