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Hamilton, Greater Cincinnati: Mercy Montgomery

Hamilton at night

Ryan's Tavern

True West

Christmas walk in German Village, Lane Hooven house

Mercy Montgomery is a John C. Engle Local Government Fellow at the City of Hamilton, Ohio. There she does a little of everything: grant writing, community outreach, economic development. It is an 11 month position designated for young professionals who just graduated with a master's degree that gives them a full, well-rounded experience of working for the city and enables them to figure out which areas they enjoy the most and are the most skilled at. The majority tend to stay on an transition into full time positions. This helps drive young professionals to the area and gets them involved. The fellowship also includes housing and Mercy lives right in downtown Hamilton, just a five-minute walk from her office.
Originally from Georgia, she earned her bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of Georgia where she focused on recreational administration with a concentration in fine arts and special events, and is also certified in nonprofit management. Her master's degree is in public administration.
Dining and Drinking
Ryan's Tavern is right across the street from her home located in a historic building that the owners invested a lot of money into renovating. They host a lot of special events, including dance parties on the first Friday of every month. They have great food and drinks and everyone there is very close and very friendly. It's definitely a locals spot but also the kind of place where people make friends quickly.
Alleys on the River has sand pits and volleyball courts, and inside there's bowling and pizza. True West, located near Ryan's in the cultural core right by Miami University, is a bakery and café with great coffee and ciders. They are a downtown hub for breakfast and lunch, serving excellent food including a large selection of gourmet grilled cheeses and what Mercy says are "one of the best chocolate chip cookies." She also says the owners are friendly people and engaged in the community. There is a cool drive-up diner called Jolly's Drive-In, a hot dog and hamburger spot that also has great pizza.
There are also two fantastic soft serve ice cream places in downtown Hamilton. Sweden Crème is a little walk-up ice cream stand with "ice cream sandwiches as big as your face." The owner is a barber and also conducts the orchestra. "He's a great character," Mercy says. Flub's is also family-owned, and they serve 20 different varieties of their version of the soft serve Blizzard with a wide variety of toppings including cheesecake bits and brownies.
Arts + Culture + Annual Events
The historic opera house downtown was just repurposed for new businesses. That whole area surrounding the opera house is the cultural hub of Hamilton, with the Miami University campus and cultural engagement center, the main public library which recently opened a tech center with 3D printer, the Miami Valley Ballet, the Butler Tech School of Arts, and the RiversEdge ampitheatre on the river that was just formally dedicated in 2013 that has featured a lot of programming, including concerts every other week through summer and a fall concert series with food trucks and a local fudge maker. "That's been a hub for activity," Mercy says. "The city manager refers to it as our city's backyard." 
Every October Hamilton hosts the three-day Operation Pumpkin festival with pumpkins "bigger than half of my car" that weigh as much as 1,500 pounds. The city hosts an Ice Festival every other year, the Children's Water Festival in the summer, and a Christmas walk and artists market in German Village during the holidays.
The Great Outdoors
One of the most recent initiatives of the city has been to support the development of Complete Streets, a national movement to build roadways that are safer, more liveable, and welcoming to everyone. Hamilton is extending their own bike path networks to connect all the way to Dayton, building on existing bike paths. There is one along the river that people are always out walking and biking on. Hamilton also has a lot of parks, around 25 total, including a brand-new pocket across from the City building that incorporates an antique fountain that had been in the City for years, although it hadn’t been operational for some time. There are two city-owned golf courses with competitive rates, sledding in the winter, and next year the city is building two splash pads with more to come. Hamilton is also home of the National Archery Tournament, an Olympic qualifier. Darrell Pace, a Hamilton native, went to Olympics twice and got a gold medal in archery each time. The city has a parked named in his honor.
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