Voinovich representative hears views from seniors

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 29, 2007

SYBENE — Brandon Kern, district representative for southeast Ohio for Republican Sen. George Voinovich was at the Sybene Senior Center Tuesday to address issues of significance to Lawrence County voters.

Although the yearly Connecting with Communities program, instituted by Voinovich in 1998, was created to discuss policies and programs in every county in Ohio, Kern represents Lawrence and 16 other counties in southeast Ohio, where he conducts meetings with local officials and residents concerning the senator’s views on issues ranging from health care to economic development.

Kern describes the program, as its name suggests, as the senator’s way to provide a “personal connection with folks in the community.”

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Though all members of the community were welcome at the hour-long forum, the attendees were primarily seniors.

Seventy-year-old William M. “Mickie” Wakegijig, a Native American of the Ottowa tribe and a Lawrence County resident since 1967, expressed his wish for Voinovich to put forth legislation to bring casino gambling to Ohio.

“I would like increased funding to senior citizens, as well as programs to help the poor,” he said,

saying casinos are a viable means to pay for dental and medical care for seniors, as well as for children’s education.

Though he stressed he is not a “political person,” he is “concerned about Social Security benefits for seniors, plus more funding to help them pay their bills.”

Before the Connecting with Communities forum, Kern met with a group in a yearly Medicare Check-Up meeting, which consisted of educational presentations to helping seniors understand Medicare plans and coverage options and answering their questions concerning their benefits.

“Senator Voinovich has been very responsive to the issues of seniors. He checks up on whether the program is being well represented in this area,” said Ann Lemley, a volunteer counselor/coordinator for Lawrence County’s OSHIIP branch. Lemley stated that because the program is offered free of charge to all Medicare recipients, it depends on volunteers to provide its informational services to the public.

(To become an OSHIIP volunteer, call (800) 686-1578 or contact Ann Lemley directly at (740) 377-4362.)