Currently, the Appalachian Regional Commission lists Scioto County as being a Distressed Area in the Appalachian Region. When you read the 2015-2017 Needs Assessment by the Community Action Organization-CAO of Scioto County, you might feel despair. And because of the opioid problem, outsiders and even natives and transplants may develop “all or nothing thinking” and proclaim a fatalist view. Tunnel vision spawns pessimistic attitudes, cranky emotions, and destructive defeat.
So, let’s converse on what is right with Portsmouth and the surrounding towns in Scioto County.
Drive through the Wayne National Forest located in the hills of southeastern Ohio and enjoy the breath-taking beauty of nature. Hike the wooded hills of Shawnee State Park. Picnic at the Earl Thomas Conley Park in West Portsmouth. Stroll or relax by the banks of the Scioto River or the Ohio River. Unwind at the Holiday Point Marina in Franklin Furnace. Loosen up by the pay lakes with your fishing pole. Putt around the scenic golf courses. The name “Scioto” is an American Indian word meaning “deer” and the area is full of deer and wild life. Put down your technology devices and observe God’s natural playground with an attitude of gratitude.
Revisit the notable marble courthouse, historic churches, 1810 House, Southern Ohio Museum, and Clark Planetarium. Amble through the Boneyfiddle District and wander in the antique shops. Cruise the Floodwall Murals again and reflect on the history of your ancestors.
Pay your respects to the Military Museum and the MIA-KIA Memorial at Tracy Park and honor the Scioto County veterans. Read the names of the brave and the inscription “In honor and memory of all veterans of Scioto County who served our country in times of peace and war. And to those who paid the supreme sacrifice so that we may enjoy freedom. Their spirit, devotion, a love of country will be forever remembered.”
Catch a show at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts or the Portsmouth Little Theatre. Grab a meal at the Portsmouth Brewery, Fork & Finger, Scioto Ribber, Ye Olde Lantern, or the quaint cafes and restaurants around the town and county. Gobble a yummy at the Boneyfiddle Pie Factory or a goody at the bakeries.
Spend time at the Portsmouth Public Library or the branches in South Webster, Wheelersburg, New Boston, or Lucasville. Stopover at Shawnee State University Library. Libraries are essential to communities. Refer adults to the Scioto County Adult Basic and Literacy Education (ABLE) or the Literacy Council when needed.
Nelson Mandela stated, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”
Education is a priority. There are Head Start and Early Head Start programs which provide services to pregnant women, newborns, and toddlers to age 3 and the Shawnee State University Children’s Learning Center for our younger citizens. Read about the South Central Ohio Educational Service Center.
Do a drive-by of the new school buildings. Children are the future so peruse the school websites and appreciate the teachers, principals, school counselors, school psychologists, secretaries, bus drivers, cooks, maintenance and all other staff. The Portsmouth STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Academy is a welcoming venture. The Shawnee State University Outreach Services and Community Education Programs for high school students speak to their future.
What about clubs and organizations for children and adolescents in Scioto County? Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, 4-H and the Scioto County Fair, and all the after school activities’ including sports, band, choir, and the list goes on, provide opportunity for social/emotional skill-building, confidence-building, and talent development.
What about local nonprofit charities, church groups, civic organizations, fundraising campaigns, and volunteer programs? Scioto Gives program, Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, Steven A Hunter Hope Fund-Power Pack program, The Summer Food Program for youth, Portsmouth Area Ladies (PALS) organization, United Way, Catholic Social Services, Rotary Clubs, Portsmouth branch of the American Association of University Women, Daughters of the American Revolution, Portsmouth Motorcycle Club’s Annual Toy Run event, Kiwanis Clubs, Clay High School Bags of Hope, Animal Welfare League of Scioto County, and Sierra’s Haven to name a few in a long list.
CAO oversees several programs. Free and income based medical clinics in and around Portsmouth are vital for health and wellness of residents. However, according to Local Conversations on Minority Health Report to the Community 2011, Scioto County is a medically underserved area with a shortage in primary care, dental health, and mental health.
Ambassador Matthew Rycroft stated, “How a society treats its most vulnerable is always the measure of its humanity.” Area Agency on Aging District 7 and Senior Citizens Centers in Scioto County help our aging residents. The Senior Nutrition Program provides the Meals at Home program.
Read the Portsmouth Daily Times, Community Common, and Scioto Voice and learn about the new businesses in Scioto County. Many for-profit businesses donate during the holidays and throughout the year. Point out the positive stories to your children and neighbors.
A Study about Communities
The Soul of the Community Study by Gallup and the Knight Foundation interviewed 43,000 people in 26 U.S. communities and asked questions: What makes a community a desirable place to live? What draws people to stake their future in it? What is it about your community that makes current and future residents and businesses want to locate, live, work and/or play there?
Akron, Ohio, a city/state in the study, revealed “social offerings (entertainment infrastructure, places to meet people), aesthetics (an area’s physical beauty and green spaces) and openness (how welcoming a place is to different kinds of people) are the most important factors emotionally connecting residents to where they live.” Parks and playgrounds scored high. Other strengths noted were their local colleges, universities, and new football stadium.
An overall finding from the 26 communities revealed “the most successful cities are able to attract and retain the talented workers that strengthen communities and local economies” and “communities that have experienced particularly hard economic times had lower levels of expressed satisfaction.” The results found 10 desirable community factors: social offerings, openness, aesthetics, education, basic services, leadership, economy, safety, social capital, and civic involvement. Visit www.knightfoundation.org.
In order to make improvements and changes, a community must explore and examine the problems and the solutions. But, along the way, stop and talk about what is good about your county, city, and community.
What is Good about Scioto County?
People who care about the health and welfare of children and their education—this is what is good about our community. People who feed and shelter people—this is what is good about Scioto County. People with giving hearts and giving pockets—this is what is good about Scioto County. People who believe in the past, present, and future for Scioto County residents—that is what is good about Scioto County.
I invite you to make your list of what is good about the county where you live, work, and play. Put this list on your refrigerator and read daily. Share with family, friends, and coworkers.
Melissa Martin, Ph.D. is an author, self-syndicated columnist, educator, and therapist. She resides in Scioto County, Ohio. www.melissamartinchildrensauthor.com.