On Palm Sunday I was privileged to attend the dedication of the new cafeteria at St. John School on Depot Rd. As many readers may recall, this school was formerly part of the Ashtabula Area City Schools. Though the project took a full year to complete, all the hours of fundraising, planning, working, cleaning, and preparing paid off and was vibrantly reflected on the smiling faces of those in attendance. Herald pride was on full display!
But this celebration caused me to think.
If a small school facing financial constraints canpossess the vision, the faith, and the conviction to manifest a dream, what can we, who call the 99th District our home, learn from this experience?
First, I believe that we must all begin to think about and identify with the positive elements of our District. We possess two underutilized seaports, a potential regional airport hub, excellent rail transportation and a major interstate highway. We can boast about coveredbridges, wineries, ample farm land, and small industry. We produce milk, maple syrup, fruits and vegetables in abundance.
We are blessed with multiple parks (on both majorlakes) and enjoy covered bridges, biking, hiking, and riding (horses, snowmobiles, and ATVs). We are home to Spire (now an Olympic training facility), Bridge St., Harbor St., the Square, and Urban Meyer. We celebrate the Maple Festival, the D-Day Celebration, the Grape JAMboree, and four distinct seasons. We can paddle down three scenic rivers or sailon our lakes. We have so much to offer if we only pause to reflect on our blessings!
Second, I believe that before we change our visible behavior, we must first change ourhearts and minds. In other words, our internal belief system drives our outward behavior. So what does this mean in our 99th district?
Quite simply, before we witness major economic and social change in our District, we must once more believe that our special corner of the state is like no other. We must believe that our best days are ahead. We must share that optimism, that energy, that enthusiasm with each other and with the greater world.
Terry Fracona, the new manager of the Cleveland Indians, understands this concept. He wants his players to buy into the concept of dedication, sacrifice and teamwork. These components are exactly the same with respect to rebuilding our District. It will require dedication. It will require sacrifice. And it will require teamwork.
Already there are signs that we are moving. Community leaders, business leaders, educa-tion leaders and elected officials are working to move forward. But we need more. We need our winning team to include residents of Ashtabula County and Geauga county; Democrats, Republicans, liberals and conservatives; the young, old and in between; northcounty and south county; from Conneaut to Chardon and all points in between — we need you.
We need all to believe again in the vitality, the energy and the dream that we once had. Let us begin by looking at the positives, engaging with our neighbors and thinking aboutwhat might be. Let us heed the insight of George Bernard Shaw when he wrote:
Some men see things as they are and say why — I dream things that never were and say why not.
Let us begin…
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