Milem set example for all residents

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 22, 2003

Tribune Staff

Today is one of the most important days of the year for this newspaper. Included with today's edition is our largest special section of the year -- Profile 2003. The section features stories, photographs and advertisements from in and around our community.

Perhaps the most important part of Profile 2003 is the selection of our 2003 Citizen of the Year. This year, we selected Dave Milem of Burlington. Milem is one of those people who rarely brags on himself and will probably be embarrassed by his selection -- you see, it may come as a surprise to him since we just told him we were going to do a story on him.

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Although the modest Milem would certainly disagree, he is a model citizen. Why? Because he loves his home, its people and its history.

Milem is involved in a number of volunteer efforts -- most related directly or indirectly to history and historic preservation. But the most visible movement in which Milem is involved is the project to restore the old Lawrence County Jail in Burlington. Fellow history buffs and project organizers say Milem's drive and determination have been all the difference in the world with regard to the project.

While many area residents look to the past in a wistful, why can't we return to yesteryear, Milem and others like him look to the past and see the future. And the future is clear: historic preservation is a vital economic development force that must be tapped.

Ironton, Ohio, and Lawrence County are unique. No place else in the world is like this place. And we must recognize those differences and capitalize on them. Think about it. Few places in the world can claim they were a vital stop on the 19th century's Underground Railroad. Each of those small historic sites, while individually may seem small, can in combination

make our area attractive to tourists.

And, fortunately, people such as Dave Milem are helping to preserve those sites and restore them into viable tourist draws. Congratulations, Mr. Milem, and thank you for being among our area's best people.