President’s Message – Fall 2020



by Dave Blocksom ’68

… all our hearts are won
Bob Linnenberg’s timely article, briefly describing the history of our historic bridge, highlights the investments that the alumni have so generously made over the years for the upkeep of the bridge. Unfortunately, we have again reached the point where we need to make structural repairs to the bridge now in order to avoid more costly repairs later.

Bob’s article referred to some repairs that were deferred in 2011, and that deferred maintenance needs to be dealt with now. The concrete support structures at each end of the bridge are deteriorating due to water infiltration and the freezing and thawing cycle. The brick structures in those areas have deteriorated too, due to the same conditions.

I have met with four structural engineers at the bridge to show them the problems and have them submit bids for their engineering services to analyze the problems, develop long term repair solutions to the problems, and develop a scope of work for the project that can be put out to bid. We will then have three or four contractors bid on the repair work. So far, the engineering bids have ranged from $7,600 – $9,000. I am going to propose at our November WAI Board of Trustees meeting that we hire one of the engineering firms to do the scope of work documents.

I have also met with Robin Brandon, Director of Facilities for Cincinnati Public Schools, in an effort to get CPS involved in the project and hopefully provide funding for the repairs. Mrs. Brandon said that she would do everything she could to help us with funding, but she reminded me of the budget constraints that CPS now has with the additional costs of education associated with the pandemic. If undertaken, this repair project would happen next summer.

As in the past, we are asking our generous alumni to again step up and help us fund this very important project. The bridge and the clock tower are our front door and are the prominent symbols of our place on the National Historic Register.

At the same time, we are also dealing with water leaks in the clock tower. These leaks have been going on for some time now and are affecting the electronics of our clock system. Two commercial roofing contractors, who do work for CPS, came out and analyzed the water leak problem. They agreed that the “built up” roof on the balcony level of the tower (below the windows and above the clocks) was old and causing the leaks. Imbus Roofing provided the low bid of $16,632 for a liquid membrane roof and $21,335 for a copper roof. Your Alumni Board of Trustees voted to spend the extra $4,700 for the copper roof, which will last 20 years longer than the membrane roof. That work will be completed in November. In 2007 the alumni paid to have a copper roof and drain installed at the very top of the tower at the cupola level. Unfortunately, CPS has never helped out with repairs to the clock tower. Your financial support for this project would also be greatly appreciated.

New Board Members
On a more positive note, I would like to welcome four new members to our Board of Trustees. They are, left to right, Roland West (’62), Arnisha O’Neal Jones (’87), James Robertson (’99) and Dexter McCray (’08).

I would also like to thank the following retiring Board members for their service to Withrow: left to right, Kitalena Mason (3 years), Cecil Dewberry (9 years), Christy Backley (3 years), Stephanie Ball (5 years) and especially retiring Chairman of the Board Vince Stitzel (9 years). Not only was Vince president of the Board for 6 years, but he started the Withrow Athletic Hall of Fame and remains involved with that  committee to this day. Thank you, Vince, for your dedicated service.

Principal’s Message
Withrow Principal Jerron Gray gave us an inspiring 12 page Principal’s Message that is very informative and covers every aspect of Withrow life. Please read Principal Gray’s Message by clicking HERE. Thanks to your generous donations, we fund many of the programs that Mr. Gray discusses, including the School of Business, ROAR store, Tiger Diner, Fine Arts and Strings Orchestra. Please help us continue to support Withrow in the manner it deserves by making a Donation Now by clicking HERE.


Sports Updates
As a follow up to Athletic Director Jonas Smith’s article in this issue, I’m happy to inform you that despite the pandemic, our student athletes are participating in four fall sports. Under coach Kali Jones our football program is slowly returning to the prominence of the past. There are 60 players on the team this year (an increase from 45 last year). Unfortunately, COVID prevented the formation of a junior high team this year. We have 25 student athletes participating on the boys soccer team and we’ve fielded a girls volleyball team and a boys and girls cross country team. Twenty members of the cheerleading team have been allowed to participate at the football games. Thanks to your generous donations, the alumni are providing game day meals for these student athletes.

CARES Act Allows Additional Charitable Deductions
Lastly, I’d like to make you aware of a provision of the CARES Act which was passed by Congress this spring as part of the stimulus packages to combat the effects of the pandemic. Even if you are now taking the large standard deduction instead of itemizing deductions, you can still take a  charitable deduction of $300 for individuals and $600 for married filing jointly this year (on your 2020 tax return). Again, you do not need to itemize deductions to get this additional tax deduction; you can still take the standard deduction. This deduction applies only to cash (check) donations to qualified organizations (Withrow Alumni Inc.) and not goods or services. If you are in a position where you have to take a Required Minimum Distribution from your IRA, you can use part of that distribution as a Qualified Charitable Distribution to Withrow and not have to pay taxes on that part of the distribution. If you have any questions about these tax incentives, please don’t hesitate to contact us at or 513-363-9085. Thank you for your support.

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