On Sunday, July 8, I completed a 36 consecutive day journey across 70 small towns in Eastern Ohio. The purpose of this journey was to educate myself on the history, people, and current issues facing the areas I wish to represent in the 95th District of Ohio’s House of Representatives.

During the week of June 3, I visited the western half of Belmont County. Here are some of the highlights: Belmont’s Harley Warrick and his Mail Pouch Barn paintings, Dr. John Maddox and the Underground Railroad Museum, the great network of Senior Centers across the County including the friends I made at both Glencoe and Flushing, Flushing’s Heritage Day, the gentlemen at the Cumberland Trail Fire Department, local eateries like Newellstown Diner and Schlepps, the beautiful park on the hill in Somerton where I met young Christopher Dilly who has enthusiasm for positive change, The Morristown Car Show, the concert series at St. Clairsville Rec Center, the retired teacher I met in Bethesda’s Epworth Park, the history of the Holloway Old Timer’s Festival, the dedicated staff at Barnesville Hospital and their unique efforts to fight the opioid crisis amongst all their other efforts, and the rest of Barnesville, a proud town that takes care of its own. While these are only some of the highlights, there are just as many wonderful experiences for which this column doesn’t have the space.

A few central issues came up across the county: Our State Government has backed away from its commitment to aiding townships, municipalities and counties. Our small towns need a reinvestment from the state for roads, water, sewer, recreation and more. Rural Broadband and a lack of cell phone service in parts of Belmont county in the year 2018.

Luckily, Representative Cera introduced a bipartisan HB 378 to free up funding which will create broadband internet investment. Meanwhile, there are many local individuals working to bring more citizens online in Belmont County. 

Aid to first responders must improve. In my conversation with the First Responders at Cumberland Trail, one mentioned, "Nearly every time we go out on a call, we’re witnessing somebody’s worst day." That hit home for me. We can do more to support paid/unpaid first responders with resources for their physical and mental health.

In closing, I just want to say I was welcomed very warmly in every community. Even though the national news media would have us believe the country is angry and divided, that wasn’t at all my experience. People just want to know you care. Enjoy the rest of your summer Belmont County.

Dan MillesonCandidate for Ohio House District 95