Annual Legislative Day becomes family outing for businessman

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

For Gordon Waters, the chamber of commerce’s annual Legislative Day isn’t just a chance to network with state leaders, it is a chance for some quality family time.

Since 2003, the general manager with Armstrong Cable has taken his now 11-year-old daughter Makenzie to the Greater Lawrence County Area Chamber of Commerce’s event, which allows representatives of Lawrence County the chance to visit the state capital to address some of the issues facing the region.

“It’s a really good opportunity just to go up there and meet with those folks,” Waters said. “It’s not really as much about a political process as it is raising awareness.”

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The annual trip will be May 3.

Waters, who has moved several times recently, said he originally took Makenzie, a Fairland Elementary student, to the event to help connect her with the state she was living in. But it soon became a chance for her to see politics at work.

“It not only gives her some exposure to things, but it gives me a chance just to kind of tap her brain to see what she wants to be when she grows up,” Waters said.

This is the 14th year that business leaders like Waters have taken to Columbus to get the ear of state legislators, bringing to light some local concerns.

Ralph Kline, one of the co-chairs of the chamber’s transportation committee, said that the event helps the group to educate the state about the progress and problems facing the southern tip of Ohio.

“Of course the typical one is Chesapeake Bypass,” Kline said. “But one of the meetings we had, we brought to the state’s attention various safety issues and losing the corridor aspect of U.S. 52. From that, it resulted in a traffic safety that has been undertaken and hopefully will be reported on at our meeting.

But Waters said that Makenzie isn’t adding much to these conversations at the capitol, as shaping policy is still a bit beyond her years.

“No, she’s not at that age yet,” said Waters with a laugh. “At 11, she’s still being shaped. But hopefully it’s something that she can take with her the rest of her life.”

However, many local leaders do have their say, and, in Waters’ opinion, that’s having an effect.

“I think that if we didn’t do it, it would definitely make a difference, as opposed to doing it,” Waters said. “I think it has a huge impact going up and putting faces with names, not just presenting facts and figures, but actually seeing people and talking with people and seeing how excited folks are about trying to grow the area.”

Those who would like to make an impact of their own can call the chamber to RSVP at (740) 377-4550 or by email at The cost is $55 per person and the deadline is April 28.