All posts by Mike Smith

Ohio Christian University Provides Tutors For Pickaway Public Library

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A partnership between Ohio Christian University and the Pickaway County Library is providing tutoring services to the community.  

The tutors are college students who are willing to work with students in kindergarten through grade 12 in reading, math, English, history and science. There is no cost to the students who receive the tutoring. 

The tutors from OCU work 10 to 20 hours per week through the Federal Work-Study Program. This gives the OCU students work experience, and it provides families another resource to encourage their students. This tutoring partnership started in 2015. 

Currently, tutoring sessions are conducted on Zoom. Appointments can be made by contacting the Pickaway County Library’s Youth Services Department at 740-477-1644 x 236. Appointments are available most afternoons and some weekends. 

Chillicothe VAMC Continues Improvement On Analytics Scorecard

Presented By McDonald’s, I’m Lovin’ It!

CHILLICOTHE, OHIO – The Chillicothe VA Medical Center (VAMC) has continued to show improvement with the Strategic Analytics for Improvement and Learning Value Model also known as the SAIL report. SAIL is a scorecard that measures, evaluates and benchmarks quality and efficiency at VAMCs across the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).  It is designed for internal comparisons to promote high quality, safe and value-based health care across all its VAMCs. 

VA Medical Center Director, Dr. Kathy Berger, has placed high priority on quality of care outcomes and the Chillicothe VA continues to work at maintaining that high level of value and effectiveness in the quality of healthcare provided.  The Chillicothe VAMC uses the SAIL report to pinpoint strengths and opportunities for improvement. 

The Chillicothe VAMC recently received the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 fourth quarter report on facility performance which shows continued meaningful improvement in overall quality from previous scores in the fourth quarter, FY 2019.  Chillicothe VAMC has continued to sustain improvement in 15 of the 24 metrics and have improved in four metrics moving up from second quintile to first quintile, which is the highest quintile. 

The Chillicothe VAMC continues to work at delivering the highest quality care to the Veterans we serve, and the SAIL report is one tool we use to objectively measure our success.

Please contact the Public Affairs Office at 740-773-1141, extension 7080, with questions or to learn more about the Chillicothe VAMC, visit our webpage (www.va.gov/chillicothe), follow us on facebook (facebook.com/ChillicotheVAMC) and twitter (@chillicothevamc).

Chillicothe/Ross Chamber Of Commerce Promotes 2021 & Beyond Initiative

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Watch Mike Smith’s Litter Media interview with Mike Throne here.

Local business and economic development officials learned about and shared stories of successes in 2020 and what is ahead for 2021 in their Community Outreach Breakfast Conference held virtually by the Chillicothe/Ross Chamber of Commerce, Friday morning.

Speakers on the virtual conference included Tiffany Baldwin- Director of Downtown Chillicothe, Tammy Eallonardo- Economic Development Director for Greater Chillicothe and Ross County Development, Ross County Health Commissioner Garrett Guillozet and featured speaker Ryan Wardlow- Advisor/Wholesaler for J.P. Morgan in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan.

Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mike Throne told the virtual breakfast following that their emphasis is on the “2021 And Beyond Initiative”.

Tiffany Baldwin says she believes 2021 will be a “turnaround year” for local businesses. Despite the pandemic, “20 new businesses started in Chillicothe’s downtown and 8 more have already started up thus far in 2021”, Baldwin says. She added that the organization known as Downtown Chillicothe is still trying to increase ways to keep customers coming to downtown businesses.

Tammy Eallonardo pointed to the arrival of a new business in the spec building located near Kenworth Truck Company. The truck manufacturing supplier General Fasteners is occupying half of the spec building with Chillicothe based Petland‘s recent expansion announcement having them utilizing the remaining 50,000 square feet of that spec building.

Eallonardo also stated that much has been done locally thanks to more than $248,000 in grant support, the commitment of $837,000 in new capital investment and new and retained payroll of just over $2 million.

She added that the lack of spec building space might have contributed to missed business location opportunities in 2020, which is why more such space is needed.

Health Commissioner Garrett Guillozet discussed how his department has worked during the COVID-19 pandemic and how much of 2021 will look like what they have been doing in 2020.

Featured speaker Ryan Wardlow of J.P. Morgan talked about successful investments during the last year and said some of the big investment winners, according to the S&P 500 were:

Online Retail- up 62%

Information Technology- up 43%

Home Improvement- up 31%

Chamber President and CEO Mike Throne says they will have an announcement later this year on their Annual Meeting date- but will begin accepting nominations March 1st for Entrepreneur of the Year. Throne is hopeful the annual meeting can be held in July, while their Annual Chamber of Commerce Golf Outing is planned for September 17th at Jaycees Golf Course.

United Way of Pickaway County Launches Tax Time Free Clinic

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In the wake of the recent closure of the PICCA’s Free Tax Clinic for this year’s tax prep season, the United Way of Pickaway County has stepped up to organize a similar service with their new Tax Time Clinic. 

The Tax Time Clinic is a free tax preparation service for eligible Pickaway County residents who make a household income below $57,000 a year. The clinic will be hosted at the Pickaway County Library (1160 North Court Street, Circleville, OH 43113) by drop-off and pick-up appointment ONLY. Regrettably no walk-in or unscheduled appointments will be permitted so that all parties can socially distance and follow COVID-19 protocols. 

Through a network of volunteers, led by site coordinator Bruce Colburn and United Way of Pickaway County, the goal of the Tax Time initiative is to prepare as many taxes for county residents as possible while openings last. “It was a must for us to continue to provide this opportunity to families and individuals with low and moderate incomes in Pickaway County.  Many of the tax credits help fill the void between what working families earn and what they need to avoid the financial cliff.”, says Board President, Nathan Anderson. “These tax credits can combine to provide a refund to low-income households, becoming their largest paycheck of the year, accounting for up to 45% percent of their annual income. Additionally, these families save up to $200 in tax preparation fees which allows them to use those funds on day-to-day expenses.  It is also a win for our local economy.  Those refunds, more than likely, get put right back into our local businesses.”

Starting Monday, February 15th, eligible residents can call the library to schedule the first of their two appointments with the free tax clinic which will be held on 

Mondays and Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Once a resident’s intake appointment for required documentation is scheduled, their pick-up appointment will be the same time and day of the week for the following week. 

Qualified county residents can call the library to schedule an intake appointment at (740) 477-1644 extension 224. Once scheduled, residents will provide their tax documents, household social security cards and picture ID’s during this appointment.  The documents will be uploaded and returned to the resident the same day. Those documents are then uploaded into the secure tax system for the remote preparers to access. From there, the site coordinator will review each completed return and, once again, residents will have a standing appointment one week from the date and time they were scheduled for their intake appointment. Finally, each resident will meet with the site coordinator while adhering to social distancing guidelines to go over the return and assist them with the filing process.

The United Way of Pickaway County would like to thank PICCA for their many efforts over the years in providing the previous iteration of the county’s Free Tax Clinic, a formerly partially funded United Way grant program. We would also like to thank the Pickaway County Library for their efforts in helping us host these pick-up and drop-off appointments to assist county residents in preparing tax documentation. This would not be possible without David Fausnaugh and his staff.  

Pickaway County residents interested in volunteering their time and talents in helping with the free tax clinic can do so by visiting https://pickuw.galaxydigital.com/ or by emailing uwpickaway@gmail.com

Ohio Power Siting Board OK’s Yellowbud Solar Farm

Presented By McDonald’s, I’m Lovin’ It!

(Columbus) — The Ohio Power Siting Board has approved Yellowbud Solar, LLC’s application to construct a 274 megawatt solar-powered generating facility located in Deerfield and Union Townships in Ross County along with Wayne Township in Pickaway County.

The Yellowbud Solar Project will occupy 1,383 acres within a 2,040 acre project area. The project will consist of large arrays of ground-mounted photovoltaic modules, commonly referred to as solar panels, mounted on a tracking system that will rotate to track the sun.

The project will include associated facilities such as access roads, meteorological stations, electric collection lines, inverters and transformers, a substation, a 138 kilovolt gen-tie line, a point interconnection switchyard and an operations and maintenance building.

Chillicothe VA Voluntary Services Takes Two Top Awards

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CHILLICOTHE, OH —The VA Voluntary Service (VAVS) Awards Program is an opportunity to showcase stellar VAVS programs within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA); celebrate accomplishments of VAVS volunteers and community partners who significantly contribute to the mission of VA; and recognize the leadership of the professionals who manage these critical programs that, for the past 75 years, have supplemented the care of our staff and enhanced the healthcare experience for Veterans, their families and caregivers.  The Chillicothe VA was honored this year in receiving two of the coveted 2021 VA Voluntary Service Awards.

World Classic Professional Big Time Wrestling’s Bobby Fulton. Fulton’s wrestling teams perform for the veterans at the Chillicothe VAMC. Photo by Dan Ramey/Litter Media

The Knights of Columbus were awarded the Faith-Based Award.  This award highlights partnerships with local faith-based organizations to provide volunteer support to a local VA facility or health care system.

The Knights of Columbus sponsor the Annual Summer Carnival for the residents at the Chillicothe VA and volunteer time to assist Veterans at the event. For the past several years, they have also sponsored one of the VA’s most successful events, Big Time Wrestling.  This event always brings joy to Veterans as they sit around the “big ring” to watch live wrestling, cheering on the winner and reminisce about wrestling with siblings and friends in their younger days.

“Here at the Chillicothe VA, we are blessed to work with many organizations that make it their mission to cater to the needs of our Veterans. All of them deserve special awards. However, one that sticks out is Knights of Columbus. They are hard-working, dedicated and selfless.” said Heather Murphy, Chief, Voluntary Service.

Knights of Columbus does not just sponsor events, they have over 300 volunteer hours which also involves working with patients in hospice.  It takes a special volunteer to dedicate their time to these men and women at the end of their lives.  Without these types of organizations, our community would lose out on the wonderful opportunities we are able to provide for our deserving Veterans. 

Pictured left to right: Jamie Russell, Harlan Plummer and Heather Murphy, Chief Voluntary Service. Submitted Photo

Mrs. Jamie Russell was named the 2021 Unsung Hero.  This award exemplifies the spirit of the Voluntary Service.  The recipient is a person who, through their hard work and selflessness, goes above and beyond what is asked of them. 

Mrs. Russell is the heart and soul of the Chillicothe VA Voluntary Service.  She began her career with the VA as a Nursing Assistant in March of 1988 and transitioned to Voluntary Service in 2011.  Mrs. Russell brought unmatched knowledge to the service when she arrived, she knew the needs of the patients that called our VA home and knew all of the Veterans by name.  When donors and volunteers first wanted to cater meals for the Community Living Centers, she understood the Veterans wanted food that reminded them of home.  Not only do the Veterans enjoy delicious meals but the conversations held over those meals sharing memories of dinners with their families touch all the donors and volunteers.  Mrs. Russell truly captures the heart of the Veterans.

When conducting volunteer orientations, Mrs. Russell always makes sure the volunteers understand the importance of being a VA volunteer.  She explains the mission of the VA, to fulfill President Lincoln’s promise “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan” by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s Veterans. She breaks it down to her version of explaining to the volunteers, they are here to make a difference in a Veteran’s day.

“The success of Voluntary Service is a direct result of the relationships built with volunteers, coworkers, and community partners.” said Murphy, “Jamie was absolutely born to carry out this mission.”

Join the Chillicothe VA as we congratulate and thank these recipients for their hard work and dedication to our Veterans. 

For more information about the Chillicothe VA or how to become a volunteer, visit our webpage (www.va.gov/chillicothe), follow us on facebook (facebook.com/ChillicotheVAMC) and twitter (@chillicothevamc).

Ross Southeastern H.S. To Host Multiple Divisions In Regional Basketball Tournaments

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Four different OHSAA Regional Basketball Tournaments will be making their way to Ross County this spring, playing at Southeastern High School’s Larry Jordan Gymnasium.

The OHSAA has announced that Boys Divisions 2, 3 and 4 will be played at Southeastern High School, along with Girls Division 3.

The Boys Division 2 Sweet 16 will see champions from the Southeast, Central and East Districts.

Boys Division 3 will be from the Southeast, East and Central Districts.

Boys Division 4 will come from the Southeast, Central and East Districts.

In Girls tournaments, the Division 3 Regionals at Southeastern High School will come from the Southeast and East Districts.

For more details, go to our links to the Ohio High School Athletic Association website:

Girls Regional Tournament Sites: CLICK HERE….

Boys Regional Tournament Sites: CLICK HERE…

Two Chillicothe Police Officers To Receive Silver Star Award For Saving Infant

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Chillicothe Police Officers Jonathan Dunham and Terry Brown will receive the award during a 2:00 P.M. ceremony February 19th at the Chillicothe/Ross Law Complex.

Both officers are being honored for their life-saving incident involving a three-week-old infant who was not breathing, when they arrived at a vehicle parked in front of the Olive Garden Restaurant just before noon on December 31st of 2020.

The officers found that the child was not breathing, which led Officer Dunham to pick up the infant, placing him into the rear of Officer Brown’s police cruiser, where Brown drove the child to the hospital emergency room as Officer Dunham performed CPR. Hospital E.R. staff took over upon the cruiser’s arrival at the hospital and the infant survived.

Chillicothe Police Captain Michael A.D. Short stated in a press release that the actions of both Officer Dunham and Officer Brown “Demonstrated extraordinary heroism in performing life-saving measures and without delay transporting a three-week-old infant, who was not breathing to the emergency room. Their actions gave this infant the best chance for survival and exemplified what it means to be a Police Officer.”

Former Fairfield County Child Protection Official Appointed To State Post

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(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today announced key staff changes within his administration.

Governor DeWine named LeeAnne Cornyn his Director of Cabinet Affairs. Kristi Burre will serve in Cornyn’s previous capacity as the Director of the Governor’s Children’s Initiative.

“Moments after being sworn in as governor, I signed an executive order to prioritize success and opportunities for all of Ohio’s children,” said Governor DeWine. “I know Director Burre will continue a strong and unparalleled advocacy for addressing problems that affect children the most, including economic disadvantage, the educational gap, foster care, and physical and mental health. I’m grateful for the dedicated leadership of Director Cornyn leadership over the past two years. As the Director of Cabinet Affairs, she will take on an even greater role in my administration, as a liaison between myself and my executive cabinet.”

Ryan Burgess, Governor DeWine’s previous Director of Cabinet Affairs, has begun a new position as the CEO of Goodwill Columbus.

Kristi Burre, Director of the Governor’s Children’s Initiative

Having worked as a caseworker, supervisor, administrator, trainer and director, Burre has over 20 years of experience in the child protection field at the county and state level. For the last two years, Burre headed the Office of Children Services Transformation, a foster care reform initiative launched by Governor DeWine through another executive order he signed after being sworn in. Before that, she served as the Deputy Director of Protective Services at Fairfield County Job & Family Services.

Additionally, Burre has been a trainer for the Ohio Child Welfare Training Program and the Safe & Together Institute. She has held leadership positions for many state and local organizations committed to better protecting children, including the Fairfield County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Board, the Ohio Children’s Trust Fund and the Ohio START Leadership Committee. Burre holds a Bachelor of Arts from Capital University and Master of Arts from Ohio University.

LeeAnne Cornyn, Director of Cabinet Affairs

Cornyn has spent nearly seven years serving Governor Mike DeWine, including in his role as Ohio’s Attorney General. She began her state service as an Assistant Attorney General in 2014, and in 2015, she was named Director of Children’s Initiatives in the Attorney General’s office. Cornyn was among Governor-elect Mike DeWine’s first cabinet appointments, being named as the Director of the Governor’s Children’s Initiative in 2018. In this role, Cornyn focused on coordinating efforts between agencies to improve outcomes in maternal and child health, early childhood education, and foster care.

Cornyn holds a Bachelor of Arts from Miami University and a Juris Doctor from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. She is a former Teach for America corps member, having taught 8th grade science in Los Angeles.

More information on the Governor’s Children’s Initiative is available at www.childrensinitiatives.ohio.gov.

Columbus Innovation District Aims To Create 20,000 Central Ohio Jobs

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(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted were joined by JobsOhio, The Ohio State University, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Franklin County, the City of Columbus, and state legislators to unveil the Columbus Innovation District. The Columbus Innovation District will bring together globally recognized education and healthcare research institutions to bolster the creation of in-demand jobs and fuel $3 billion in economic impact for Columbus and Ohio over the next 10 years.

The Columbus Innovation District will be a hub for innovation and growth in Ohio, expanding science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) educational opportunities, positioning Ohio to compete nationally for growing tech and healthcare employers.

“The Columbus Innovation District will be the third anchor in our strategy to build on Ohio’s growing dominance as a world leader in medical research and healthcare talent,” said Governor DeWine. “These districts will attract researchers, who can create, develop, and share their ideas with the world from Ohio.”  

The Columbus Innovation District aims to generate 20,000 new jobs in central Ohio over the next 10 years, involving an estimated 10,000 direct STEM jobs in the technology and healthcare industries, as well as 10,000 indirect jobs in the community at large.

“With this announcement, Columbus becomes the third regional innovation district we’ve launched in Ohio in the last year, advancing world-class research, supporting intellectual property commercialization and new business startups while developing the STEM and computer science talent needed for healthcare and businesses to thrive,” Lt. Governor Husted said. “The people of Ohio will ultimately benefit from the fact that OSU and Nationwide Children’s, in collaboration with JobsOhio, share the common mission of advancing innovation, investment and economic prosperity in Ohio – now and for the future.”

JobsOhio, Ohio State and Nationwide Children’s will invest $1.1 billion in the Columbus Innovation District, including the development of an Interdisciplinary Research Facility, an Energy Advancement and Innovative Center, an Outpatient Cancer Facility, and the region’s first proton therapy facility to treat cancer patients already underway at Ohio State’s West Campus. 

“The Columbus Innovation District brings together leading area institutions that will have worldwide impact on the future growth and advancements in healthcare and education,” said JobsOhio President and CEO J.P. Nauseef. “JobsOhio and our partners see incredible opportunity for the Columbus district, together with the others across Ohio, to advance innovation, ultimately creating a global hub for fresh, creative and transformative ideas.”

JobsOhio, the state’s private nonprofit economic development corporation, is committing up to $100 million for the Columbus Innovation District, with Ohio State and Nationwide Children’s Hospital serving as the anchors to drive STEM talent production, National Institutes of Health (NIH) and life science research, as well as business development in job creation largely focused on technology and life sciences in the healthcare industry.

“This strategic partnership with JobsOhio will create new opportunities for our faculty, staff and student researchers and entrepreneurs, further positioning central Ohio as a leader to develop the exciting potential at the interfaces of biomedical and computer science and engineering research, ” said The Ohio State University President Kristina M. Johnson. “In addition, we will work with JobsOhio to grow the STEM talent pool, and educate a new generation of students who will continue to thrive in our growing economy.”

This commitment is expected to generate another $2 billion in private development necessary to build real estate and create a vibrant, amenity-rich community to house the expected 10,000 direct jobs spurred by the initiative.

“Nationwide Children’s Hospital has been proud to count The Ohio State University, Gov. DeWine, and Lt. Governor Husted among our strongest partners as we have increasingly become a center of discovery and translation of new therapies for children around the world,” said Tim Robinson, CEO of Nationwide Children’s. “The Columbus Innovation District, made possible by JobsOhio, allows us all to deepen our partnership, create more opportunities for the people of central Ohio, and have an even greater impact on children’s health.”   

Today’s announcement included local support, as well as from city and county officials. 

“This Columbus Innovation District represents an investment in our region, our residents, and their future,” said Franklin County Commissioner Kevin Boyce.  “The impact locally in the form of jobs and investment will be great, but this is also a partnership that has the potential to make a difference around the globe.  The impact from a project like this will be greater than the sum of its parts, and I’m really excited to see it going forward here in Franklin County.”

“The Columbus Innovation District will help attract the best and brightest minds to central Ohio, and allow Columbus to retain the talent that will follow this historic public-private investment in STEM,” said City of Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther.  “The District will create the environment for collaboration and the discovery and application of new technologies to solve some of our greatest challenges. This is a once in a generation opportunity that will produce thousands of new graduates, thousands more jobs and spur billions in private investment. It is an integral part of the Columbus growth strategy, and will help the city to align jobs, housing and infrastructure along the northwest corridor, propelling our city into the future.” 

This announcement follows the kickoff of both the Cleveland Innovation District, which launched in January with the Cleveland Clinic, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland State University, MetroHealth Medical Center, and University Hospital as partners, and the Cincinnati Innovation District™ unveiled in March 2020, with the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center as anchors.