Hamilton County

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The Hamilton County Courthouse and Justice Center have something new-a total of 80 solar panels for heating water.

The panels are part of a $20 million dollar project the county says is at no additional cost to taxpayers. With the help of contractors, Hamilton County chose these buildings because they had flat roofs and available space.

The Justice Center:

Tuesday is the first day of early voting in Ohio's August 5 election, although few voters in southwest Ohio will have anything to vote on.

Hamilton County has only two issues on the ballot - an additional 11.2 mill tax levy in the Lockland Local School District and the renewal of a five mill tax levy for fire and emergency medical services in Mount Healthy.

In Warren County, voters in the Lebanon City School District will decide a tax levy renewal that will raise $4.2 million a year for the next three years.

Howard Wilkinson / WVXU

General Electric, a week after it announced it would build its Global Operation Center at The Banks, held a celebration today in their temporary headquarters with Gov. John Kasich and a host of elected officials and community leaders who had a hand in bringing the center to Cincinnati.

Cincinnati City Council and the Hamilton County commissioners approved packages of tax incentives to nail down the deal. Kasich’s private, non-profit development firm, JobsOhio worked for months with GE officials to convince them to bring the operations center here.

Candidates for judgeships in Ohio are in a unique and somewhat odd position.

They run in primary elections as Democrats or Republicans. But, when the general election rolls around, their names appear on the ballot without party designation.

So, unless you are a person who pays close attention to politics or somebody – usually the judicial candidate’s political party – tells you whether or not he or she is a Democrat or a Republican, you may go to the polls totally in the dark about which is which.

And the judicial races are usually stuck at the bottom of the ballot.

WVXU political reporter Howard Wilkinson talked with Maryanne Zeleznik this morning about some of the more interesting results in Tuesday's primary election and the low turnout in southwest Ohio counties.

Two incumbent Republican state representatives were defeated, a former Cincinnati city council member became the Democratic nominee for a state senate seat, and House Speaker John Boehner cruised to a win in Tuesday’s primary election in southwest Ohio.

The turnout in Tuesday’s election in the southwest Ohio counties was even lower than election officials expected – Hamilton County’s turnout was barely over 13 percent, 17.5 percent in Butler County, 15 percent in Warren County, and just under 13 percent in Clermont County.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Work is officially underway on the next phase of the Banks project.

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley and Hamilton County Commission President Chris Monzel poured the first concrete pillar for expansion west of the Freedom Center.

Monzel calls the project a major economic driver for the region.

"We could yield a return on investment as high as 7-to-1," says Monzel. "To me that's a smart investment. That is a great ROI that will contribute to continue to strengthen our county  and our city."

Two more people were indicted today on charges of illegal voting, bringing the total of indicted voters in Hamilton County to eight.

One of those indicted today - Ellen Elizabeth Duncan of Avondale - was a poll worker at the Urban League offices on Reading Road. She is accused of voting by absentee ballot and in person at last fall's election.

The other, Timothy Merman of Fairfax, is accused of using a Fairfax business address as his residence when voting in 2012. Prosecutors say Merman actually lived in Kentucky at the time.

Politics reporter Howard Wilkinson chats with Maryanne Zeleznik on some of the more interesting races on the May 6 primary ballot. 

The May 6 primary in Ohio is likely to be a relatively low turnout affair, except in locales where there are significant ballot issues to be decided.

There are no significant primaries on the Republican or Democratic side for the statewide offices, from governor on down; and there are no hot-button statewide ballot issues to draw voters to the polls.

There is a statewide constitutional amendment to allow the state to issue bonds to finance or help finance capital improvement projects for local governments.

But that ballot issue couldn’t draw flies.

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