PDT Staff Writer
At Monday’s Portsmouth City Council meeting, Portsmouth City Solicitor Mike Jones looked and sounded like someone who was fed up with a lot of negative comments that come out on a regular basis at those meetings, when it came his time to speak. Jones is known for his soft-spoken and pragmatic approach to issues, but he did not hold back when he urged the city to begin to promote the positive things that have been accomplished over the last several years.
“Sometimes I think that we are our own worst enemies,” Jones told Council. “There’s a lot of good that has gone on in this city. And we never seem to promote ourselves.”
Jones said over the previous five minutes he had jotted down some notes dealing with positive events and outcomes.
“All of these concerns that people brought up are legitimate concerns that we need to address and should have addressed in the past,” Jones said. “But we need to promote the city. We have a great city. We have an absolute beautiful riverfront that we should be promoting.”
Jones then read from his notes: “This is in just the last year that has happened in Portsmouth, Ohio. We’ve got a multi-million dollar expansion at King’s Daughters Medical Center. They’re spending millions of dollars. They’re using local workers, putting our men and women back to work. That’s a good thing. We should be promoting that. We have an office building that was just built there in the old McKinley School complex. I believe it was a $5 million plus building, and I believe it now has eight doctors, including Dr. (Gerardo) Trinidad, and it’s a beautiful complex that has been put in there, and it put local men and women to work.”
Jones then acknowledged the presence of Portsmouth City Schools Superintendent Scott Dutey, who had been seated in the gallery.
“Welcome here to our meeting,” Jones said. “I wish we had more positive news for you to report back to the school board that things are going great in the city. I think they are. I just don’t think we report what the good things are. We’ve got the best school complex in southern ohio, period. We’ve got a great school facility. We’ve got great athletic facilities. We are now having a track expansion that is going to be a beautification (project) where people are going to be able to walk through that, take their family, their children, I’m proud of that facility. My understanding is that we’re probably going to have a softball facility that will be coming in in the near future. That area is a great area that we should be proud of.”
Jones then talked about the secondary level facilities in the community.
“Shawnee State University is expanding in the downtown area,” Jones said. “How many people knew that? They’re going to be building right here downtown putting in a new facility. The downtown beauty school (Elite Institute of Cosmetology), they bought the old (Lewis) Furniture building, putting multi million dollars in that. It’s a great asset to the community, and hopefully we’re going to have several students and employees that go through that on a yearly basis, and bring much needed revenue to this city.”
Jones turned his focus to city projects that have occurred or are in the works.
“The water project. (City Waterworks Director) Mr. (Sam) Sutherland has a water project that is ongoing right now,” Jones said. “We have local persons who are out there working on that project. They have been there since February. Local men and women working at the City Waterworks facility, bringing in money for the city, getting jobs for the city.”
Jones addressed several complaints about high grass and weeds on city property.
“We heard about the court probation program - Judge (Russell) Kegley and Judge (Steve) Mowery, as part of their community service, require people to go out and cut those lawns, and cut those weeds. Do we need to do more? Absolutely, but you would be amazed at the amount of garbage these folks pick up every single day. Our Health Department has done a phenomenal job with that Land Reutilization program. I just, in the last week, prepared 11 deeds to where the city is selling property that we acquired to people at everywhere from a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand dollars. And this is just the start. We now have 75 more that are going to be on the way.”
Jones closed with - “A lot of good things are happening in this community. Yes, we have our share of problems. We need to fix our problems, but by goodness we need to promote what we’re doing good, because we’ve got a lot of good in this community. And I get so tired of, we’re our own worst enemy. The people that come here every week to complain, they have a right to complain, they should be complaining because we should be doing better. We should make it to where they don’t have to come and complain. But at the same time, we’ve got to promote ourselves people. We have to promote Portsmouth, Ohio, because when people come and visitors come, and they come to Terry’s (Ockerman) place (The Lofts), they say, ‘hey, what’s going on in Portsmouth, Ohio?’ They pick up the paper. They need to read positive things. When they look at our community website they need to read positive things that they are doing. When they come to my office and to the local Council member, we need to be able to say, ‘here is why you should come to Portsmouth, Ohio.’ Look at all the great things we’re doing in Portsmouth, Ohio.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at firstname.lastname@example.org