What a week for Chillicothe and Ross County!
I don't know of another community that within 24 hours the main discussion spanned time from nearly 200 B.C. to 200 years ago.
On Sunday and Monday, our community hosted members of the National Town Builders Association. They were here because one of the leaders in the area of urban retail and development is a native of Ross County. Michael Watkins is now living in Maryland, but family still lives here and he returns often to visit. After the national conference in Cincinnati this past weekend, he brought about a dozen colleagues with him to his hometown. To say they were amazed by our architecture and growth is a definite understatement. Sometimes I feel guilty of often taking advantage of what we have here by ways of historic structures, but to hear professionals in that field go on and on about the quality and amount of our surroundings is truly amazing.
Then on Tuesday, we were hosts to those involved in Ohio's efforts for a World Heritage historic designation with the Hopewell Culture sites that also involves Licking and Warren counties. They, too, were in awe of our historic downtown, our convenient "urban" retail and lodging on Bridge Street, and of course, our Hopewell Culture sites. Nomination for the designation is still hopeful, even though an announcement was made by the United States government to withdraw from the UNESCO organization.
Why these two visits were important to me, it really highlighted the importance of preserving our history. Nowhere else is there a community that has a downtown on the National Historic Register that is undergoing revitalization as much as we are, while in the same community plans are being made to make nomination to honor and remember one of the oldest cultures in North America. Think about it. Chillicothe and the immediate surrounding area has been inhabited for more than 2,000 years. It is our responsibility to preserve what we have, strive to improve our visibility while at the same time bring today's modern retail, lodging, housing, education, business and industry to today's generation.
Another highlight this week was honoring 22 local businesses who have embraced a culture of inclusion while driving innovation. October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month and the Ross County Board of DD, along with the Pioneer Center, honored those businesses with a brunch at the Chillicothe Country Club.
Hiring people with disabilities isn't just something special to do. These folks are vital to today's workforce needs. They are dependable, often have better attendance records, lower turnover rates and in Ohio, represent 13% of today's workforce.
"These individuals can and do do the job," said Mike Thompson, president of the board of DD. "They are making a viable contribution to our community."
Leia Snyder, Ross County Board off DD Superintendent, said businesses who hire individuals with disabilities are not doing charity work. "They're not doing special favors," she said, "but giving people better opportunities in an inclusive and diverse workforce."
So, after a great week of history, learning, planning, and celebration...we still have a lot to do. We, as an entire community need to work together to continue preserving our past, embracing our future and help remind each other that this is a great place to live, work, and play.
Enjoy your weekend and don't forget to enjoy the beauty of our area by attending the 50th annual Fall Festival of Leaves in Bainbridge.