Brown stops in Harrison County

CADIZ U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown visited Harrison County Monday afternoon. He first stopped in Freeport to discuss business and partnership opportunities at the Freeport Press, and then moved on to Harrison Community Hospital (HCH) in Cadiz.

Brown spoke to approximately 40 people at the hospital, including State Sen. Lou Gentile, Harrison County officials, United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) representatives and other citizens of the community. The informal event allowed anyone to speak to Brown about issues the area faces. Brown said he simply wanted to see people and hear what’s happening in Harrison County; he called the gathered crowd “very aware.” His other mission was to spread the word that the deadline to sign up for healthcare as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is March 31.

Healthcare was largely the topic at hand for Brown’s visit. He informed the crowd that, since December, 130,000 Ohioans who did not previously have healthcare have gained it. The ACA has also allowed 900,000 senior citizens to obtain free preventative care. Brown largely praised the ACA, acknowledging that it could do more, but overall is good for the nation.

When asked why he thinks the ACA has received so much criticism, Brown likened the situation to Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid, both of which received opposition upon their introductions in 1935 and 1965, respectively.

Brown also talked about the importance of community colleges, which he praised for keeping college costs in check while providing individuals with better career opportunities. Eastern Gateway Community College President Laura Meeks and Vice President Jim Baber were on hand for the casual reception. Baber said he and his colleague were in attendance to speak to Brown about state funding to keep tuition down for students. Meeks and Baber both said they would also like to discuss training opportunities for oil and gas exploration.

Several other attendees revealed their reasons for wanting to speak to Brown before his arrival. Commissioner Dale Norris mentioned a Tiger Discretionary Grant, for which the county is in the initial stages of applying. If received, a Tiger Grant would assist with economic development throughout the county.

Cadiz residents Nan Mattern, Joyce Klingler and Janette McGonigal attended the reception to ask Brown about Congress’s dips into retirement funding, specifically pertaining to retired service pay and how long people in or nearing retirement could expect funding to last.

Freeport village council member Marie Karl was on hand to speak to Brown about using more gas and oil income to benefit Harrison County, namely on projects including sewage system improvements in Piedmont and Moorefield.

Many other attendees, including Freeport Mayor Kinsey Milleson, UMWA representatives Donald McAfee, Carol McAfee and Gordon Schrader, and Democratic Women of Lakeland Secretary Kyra Milligan said they just wanted to hear what Brown had to say.

Cliff Harmon, HCH administrator, said he was glad to see Brown visit.

“We appreciate his support in this part of Ohio,” he offered. “It provided a good opportunity for interchange.”

Warner may be reached at mwarner@timesleaderonline.com.