Chamber prepares for Legislative Day trip

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 21, 2003

Ten years after the first visit, the Greater Lawrence County Area Chamber of Commerce's annual trip to Columbus will be the largest ever and may also be one of the most important.

On May 22, nearly 100 people from the county will visit the state capital for the 10th Annual Legislative Day. The three focal points of discussions will be transportation, worker's compensation and the Legislature.

"The media, the chamber and the community have really made this a triad of success," said Bill Dingus, trip chairman. "To date, the support has been overwhelming."

Email newsletter signup

Gov. Bob Taft will be the keynote speaker at a luncheon in the atrium. Other state leaders who will meet with the delegation include State Sens. Doug White and John Carey Jr., State Reps. Todd Book and Clyde Evans and the directors of the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Bureau of Worker's Compensation.

"As a whole, the state leadership is the best, most comprehensive we have experienced in our 10 trips," Dingus said. "It provides a unique opportunity for the county when you have that type of support."

The visit will be divided into concurrent meetings focusing on the three topics.

A summary of each session will be presented at the luncheon that the governor and Senate President White will attend.

"The big issue is that there is some things only the federal and state government can do for the people," said Pat Clonch, executive director of the Chamber. "We have done everything we can for ourselves."

The Transportation meeting will be facilitated by ODOT Director Gordon Proctor.

Robert Dalton, transportation committee chairman and Chesapeake resident, said this trip may be critical to safeguard the future of the Chesapeake Bypass. Because of cost overruns on Phase 1A and 1B, funding for land acquisitions and other aspects of Phase 2 may be in jeopardy.

"It is going to be important to take the message to Columbus that, yes, there has been cost overruns, but it will only escalate if we delay this project," he said.

Many property owners and developers are counting on this project to be completed and it is crucial to make sure the leaders understand the tremendous safety and economic need to finish the bypass, Dalton said.

Dalton said the Chamber will continue to work towards creating an atmosphere in southern Ohio where businesses can thrive, and the infrastructure is a big part of that.

"We have been at this for last 25 years," Dalton said about the need for infrastructure improvements in eastern Lawrence County. "In the past 10 years, we have accomplished a lot more because of this one day meeting."

The Legislative session will be hosted by Sen. Carey and will provide a good opportunity for input on budgeting, proposed cuts and more, Dingus said.

"Our visit will probably be during the pinnacle of the budget review," Dingus said.

"We will see how we will be impacted by the legislative moves and how we can in turn impact the legislative process.

"It is important for everyone to come in and see the relationship between the legislative leadership and Lawrence County and our positive attitude as a community. When you bring 75 to 100 people from the community, it is a powerful statement."

The Worker's Compensation meeting will be conducted by Jim Conrad, director of the Ohio Bureau of Worker Compensation.

"Ohio has always been very competitive in this field and it makes it easier to recruit businesses," Clonch said. "Ohio has a policy that is strong and very fair to the employees and the employers."

So far, nearly 75 people have already registered- the most ever -and the Chamber is working on scheduling a second bus. In addition, others may decide to drive on their own.

Participants come from a wide spectrum of backgrounds and include elected officials, business leaders, concerned citizens and students, Dingus said.

When Chamber officials started this 10 years ago, they had no idea it would continue and be this successful. The trip would not have been possible without Hecla Water's help the first few years, Dingus said. Now, the Chamber spends more than three months each year preparing for the event.

The buses will leave Ironton at 7 a.m. and leave the capital at 2 p.m. on May 22.

Anyone from the community who wishes to go on the free trip can contact the Chamber at (740) 377-4550 to register.