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Legislative Day gives a voice

The joke is always that state leaders in Columbus believe that Ohio ends at Portsmouth.

But for 24 years the Greater Lawrence County Area Chamber of Commerce has done its part to change that by taking a simple approach: If Columbus won’t come to us, then we will go to Columbus.

Once again the chamber hosted its annual Legislative Day on Thursday allowing elected officials, community leaders and Lawrence County students to visit with state officials and even Gov. Ted Strickland.

What is the point? Simply to make sure that state leaders know our needs and concerns.

In addition to talking face to face with our senators and representatives, the Lawrence County group gets to meet with Ohio Department of Transportation, Department of Development, Department of Natural Resources and others.

These visits allow these agencies to put names and faces to the citizens they serve. So when they make a decision not to fund a particular project they are at least aware of exactly who this is affecting.

Former Chamber Executive Director Pat Clonch deserves tremendous praise for starting this initiative. It serves as part of her legacy for Lawrence County.

Current executive director Bill Dingus, director Bob Smith and all of the staff deserve credit for keeping this tradition alive and well.

While walking through the halls of the statehouse, Commissioner Jason Stephens made a good point about the importance of this trip.

“People will say, ‘we ought to take a bus to Columbus (to tell leaders what we think),’” Stephens said. “Well, here it is.”

Let’s all make this trip before we are mad and, hopefully, we won’t ever have reason to get that way.