Governor Plants Tree In Ross County To Memorialize COVID-19 Victims

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Governor & Mrs. DeWine plant tree at Great Seal Park

(COLUMBUS)— Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Mary Mertz were in Ross County Friday where they dedicated a new memorial tree grove in honor of the victims and survivors of COVID-19 as well as all Ohioans who made personal sacrifices to protect others amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The COVID-19 Pandemic Memorial Grove at Great Seal State Park in Chillicothe includes a grove of 15 newly planted trees surrounding a paved trail. Benches will be added to allow visitors to comfortably reflect on the toll of the pandemic, honor lives lost, pay tribute to courageous frontline workers, and recognize the selfless actions of Ohioans to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Governor DeWine selected the Great Seal State Park for the COVID-19 Pandemic Memorial Grove due to its rich history and central location. In the early 1800s, the rolling terrain in the area inspired the hills depicted in Ohio’s state seal.  

“In our state seal, the sun rises over these hills, bringing the dawn of a new day, a fresh beginning, and hope,” said Governor DeWine. “While no memorial can fully encompass the grief caused by this pandemic, we hope this grove will not only offer some solace to those who lost loved ones but also serve as a reminder of the courage and endurance of all Ohioans during this unprecedented time in our lives.”

“We will never forget the Ohioans we lost during the COVID-19 pandemic and the void left in communities across our state in which their presence is deeply missed,” said Director Mertz.  “This grove is dedicated to the cherished memory of the family members, friends, neighbors, and colleagues who have passed, where we can all find a place of peace and solace to honor and remember them in our grief.” 

During today’s ceremony, Governor DeWine, First Lady Fran DeWine, and Director Mertz planted the first tree in the new grove. The remaining trees were planted by COVID-19 survivors, families of Ohioans killed by the virus, healthcare workers, first responders, teachers, students, local community leaders, and other essential workers including representatives from the Ohio Department of Health, Ohio National Guard, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, and Ohio Emergency Management Agency.

The trees selected for the COVID-19 Pandemic Memorial Grove are all native to Ohio, including five white oaks, three redbuds, and one tree each of swamp white oak, northern red oak, chinquapin oak, hackberry, sugar maple, red maple, and flowering dogwood.

Ohio’s Great Seal State Park is located at 4908 Marietta Road in Chillicothe. The COVID-19 Pandemic Memorial Grove is located adjacent to the park’s campground. There are no admission or parking fees. 

Travel & Tourism Officials Promoting Efforts To Get Back To Business

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(CHILLICOTHE) – National Travel & Tourism Week (May 2–8) spotlights the collective strength of the U.S. travel industry. This annual celebration spotlights the critical role that travel plays in the U.S. economy. This celebratory week was created by Congress in 1983 to elevate the economic power of travel.

Additionally, this year’s celebration arrives with the opportunity to recognize the importance of travel to the U.S. economy, while initiating a post-pandemic recovery. Recent data released suggests that $766 billion was lost in U.S. tourism due to the coronavirus.

Locally, during this week of celebration, the Ross-Chillicothe Convention & Visitors Bureau would host its Tourism Banquet & Pineapple Awards as the kick-off event. This annual celebration brings tourism partners together to celebrate and prepare for the upcoming season ahead. As a safety precaution to partners, the Bureau decided to cancel the banquet for 2021 and will celebrate the week by recognizing the hard work and dedication of the local tourism industry. The Bureau will be releasing a daily video throughout the week that highlights each category of the Pineapple Awards. Additionally, the Bureau would like to thank all the individuals who volunteered, work behind the scenes and served on the front lines during the pandemic to keep tourism going in Ross County.

“Tourism is very important to the economy, not only nationally but right here in Ross County”; said Melody Young, Executive Director of the Ross-Chillicothe Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“This past year brought hardships to many sectors due to the pandemic. Tourism was one of those sectors severely impacted, but the Ross-Chillicothe CVB is dedicated to helping drive Ross County’s recovery. It is extremely exciting to see festivals and events returning, attractions that were closed last year are reopening for their seasons this year, and new activities are being announced. It is clear; with safety precautions in place, Ross County is ready to welcome visitors this season!”

You can follow the Bureau on Facebook and Twitter to watch the videos but also to learn about attractions, events, and activities to do this year. For more information about what is happening in Chillicothe and Ross County, visit the Bureau online at

Return To Chillicothe Downtown Parking Enforcement Supported By Chamber Of Commerce

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(Mobile Parking App Image Supplied By Chillicothe/Ross Chamber Of Commerce)

The City of Chillicothe plans to resume downtown parking regulations enforcement in May. Parking will be enforced with an enforcement officer and monitored with refurbished meters that take coins and utilize a new mobile app that allows for easy payment for and extension of parking hours.

The Chillicothe/Ross Chamber of Commerce has published this “FAQ” letter on the merits of downtown parking meters:

We believe regular, consistent parking enforcement:

Creates traffic flow in front of businesses, allowing more visitors an opportunity to take advantage of the services offered in downtown.

Minimizes needless frustrating circles around the block to find a parking space, which also minimizes additional traffic.Allows for clear lines of sight for pedestrians and avoids blocked access for emergency services.

Pushes long-term parkers to a free, public lot (located next to Bicentennial Park off of Water Street), where they will enjoy free, limitless parking. In addition, the City has now contracted with ParkMobile to provide new meters that provide a touchless and easy way to pay for parking, while also offering a way to avoid parking tickets. Just download the mobile app and walk through the steps to pay quickly, easily, and on-demand to enjoy your Downtown Chillicothe experience.

A few frequently asked questions and statements we’ve heard:

Why are we even enforcing parking?

Safety: Parking enforcement reduces hazards in downtown. Illegally parked cars create safety hazards to pedestrians, other vehicles, and drivers, and to safety and emergency vehicles and officers.Community needs: There are a limited curbside number of spaces available in downtown, so to avoid crowded streets and abandoned vehicles, parking ordinances were created to help with these issues.

Turnover: Simply put, the parking in front of businesses should be used by customers of businesses. The essence of a thriving downtown comes down to a steady stream of visitors to the shops, restaurants, pubs, and offices in the area. By creating turnover, the number of visitors can be maximized, allowing those businesses to continue seeing a return on their investment in the downtown. Will the city manage all on-street parking? Will they issue tickets for parking violations such as loading and handicapped zones?

Yes. The parking enforcement officer will also monitor loading zones to make sure only short-term vehicles are using them and for the correct reasons. Handicapped parking violators will be cited.

The city only does this to make money.

While it is true that fines generate revenue, the intent of fines is to target habitual violators – not casual visitors. The money generated from parking fines will be minimal and is forecasted to go down over time.

This sends a bad message to downtown visitors.

It’s a far worse message when a city fails to properly manage parking. In time, traffic will flow much more freely and visitors to downtown won’t be frustrated by a lack of parking.

What if I don’t have a smartphone or a credit card?

Not a problem. The meters will continue to take coins. However, one of the great benefits of using the ParkMobile mobile app will be the convenience of adding time to your meter without having to run back to your vehicle.

Can I reserve a parking spot?

At this point, reserving a parking spot in advance is not an option. You will see the option available on the mobile app because it’s built into the framework of the app itself, but it is inoperable.

What should people who live or work downtown do?

Under city ordinance, businesses and building owners are obligated to create parking for their employees and tenants. The only free lot is located on Water Street, next to Bicentennial Park. Also, 4th Street is unmetered and can be used for parking. The Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Chillicothe are also working to make some off-street parking available to downtown residents and visitors after 5 p.m. and on weekends. In fact, the Chamber’s lot is open to the public on nights and weekends. There are other locations that make their lots available in off hours. A full list of free, off-street parking opportunities will be available soon.

And, what about those with business at the Ross County Courthouse?

Judges often advise those serving the court’s business on the areas in which they should park and handle parking fines when they encounter them. Most trips to the courthouse can be handled in the time limits for parking.

Who gets questions about parking?

The City’s Safety-Service Director, Jeff Carman, handles questions or comments about parking enforcement. He can be reached at (740) 773-2700.

Finally, this is a new way of doing things and, on occasion, change is difficult to understand in the beginning stages. Please be patient as we roll out the new procedures and enforcement.

(This document was produced by the Chillicothe Ross Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with Downtown Chillicothe and the City of Chillicothe.)

Pike, Vinton & Franklin Counties See Improved Levels On COVID Alert Map

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Improving COVID-19 case numbers in three area counties has resulted in each being moved a step down on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System Alert Map.

Pike County has dropped from Red Level 3 to Orange Level 2, Vinton County has gone from Orange Level 2 to Yellow Level 1 with Franklin County going to Purple Level 4 to Red Level 3.

Ross, Pickaway and Fairfield counties remain at Red Level 3.