Normally the end of the year is an excellent time to assess our position with respect to goals and completion or movement relative to those plans. However, I would prefer to defer, opting instead for a different approach to such an assessment. To be specific, in the spirit of the season this update will outline the many gifts we have been bequeathed throughout the 99th District.
For example, Ashtabula County is one of only eight such entities in the entire state of Ohio to boast of a Lake Erie shoreline. Further, we are the only county with TWO deep-water ports. Our district is the ONLY one in the state with three scenic rivers (Grand, Ashtabula, and Conneaut) – and perhaps a fourth, with Pymatuning under serious consideration for such an honor. Ashtabula County not only holds the distinction of being home to the most covered bridges in Ohio, but also the longest (Smolen-Gulf) and shortest (Liberty St.) in the entire United States.
The 99th District is the home of the largest inland lake in Ohio (Pymatuning) and the largest private lake in Ohio (Roaming Shores). We boast two paved bike paths in the Maple Highlands Trailway (which includes two covered bridges) and the Greenway Trail. Our district is consistently number one in the state for turkey hunting and typically in the top five (but usually top three) for the deer harvest. Conneaut Creek is world renowned for its steelhead population while perch and walleye fishing in our stretch of Lake Erie also draws rave reviews.
Our district is the MOST agriculturally diverse in the entire state of Ohio. We plant traditional row crops (primarily corn and soybeans), but we are also home to dairy, beef, poultry, and fish farms. We grow nursery stock as well as orchards of apples, cherries, and peaches. We are home to vineyards and can boast about having the most wineries of any district in the state. We grow miscanthus, produce lumber, and raise pumpkins. We ARE the maple capital of Ohio and have put our maple industry on the map with the many and varied uses of the resource—from candies and confectionaries to bourbon flavored syrup.
We are home to multiple private airports, in addition to the Geauga County Airport and the Northeast Ohio Regional Airport (now undergoing a multi-million dollar upgrade). We offer major north/south and east/west rail transportation with our CSX and Norfolk-Southern lines. And for those who travel by car, two major four lane highways – I-90 and State Route 11 – intersect in Ashtabula County.
The 99th District is also served by TWO branch campuses of one of the premier university systems in the nation—Kent State. We offer excellent education at our public schools as well as our parochial schools and one of only eight private boarding schools in Ohio (Grand River Academy). Geneva is home to the SPIRE Institute—a nationally renowned Para-Olympic training facility. We are rightfully proud of the Geauga County Growth Partnership and the Ashtabula County Growth Partnership—both poised to assist in our economic development. Along those lines, we also are blessed with the Ashtabula County Port Authority and the Ashtabula and Conneaut Port Authorities.
We are serviced by TWO of the premier medical facilities in the entire world through our associations with the Cleveland Clinic and the University Hospital Systems. Our Chambers of Commerce, from Chardon to Conneaut, work tirelessly to promote our local businesses within and beyond the 99th District.
We are so blessed to experience four seasons of wonder—each unique and spectacular in their beauty and opportunities. We ARE the “Snow Capital of Ohio” and should relish in that distinction. While other areas of the state measure accumulation in inches, we measure snow in feet.
I could easily continue with our many blessings, but I think by now you get the point. We have so much to be thankful for in Northeast Ohio, and especially the 99th District. But I would argue, finally, that above all else we are a people who care about one another, who can agree to disagree politely and civilly, and who hold in our hearts a vision, a purpose, and a sense that together we can make our district and our state much better for each of us and for our children.
In closing, let us therefore remember these many and varied gifts during this season of giving and may we strive for peace, harmony, and equality of opportunity for all in this coming year and all years.