The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Reality Check

June 25, 2008

Bad vibes: Lack of opportunities, progress make for sour attitudes

(Continued)



Clutter has contact with educators, other business people and professionals across the state. “On the one hand, outsiders perceive us as ‘hicks’ and behind the other areas,” Clutter says.

The most telling outside perception that Clutter notices, however, is one of opportunity and resources ignored and squandered. He says most counties would be thrilled to have just one of Ashtabula County’s natural resources: the scenic rivers, the lake, wineries, orchards, natural areas or covered bridges. Yet we have all these and still can’t find the spark to make it come together for economic prosperity.

“They say, ‘It’s a great area up there; they don’t know what they got,’” Clutter says.

Regional cheerleading organizations like Team NEO and the Cleveland Plus campaign, are attempting to brand the entire region to outsiders and create a positive view of it. Locally, LEADERSHIPAshtabula strives to educate business and professional people about the county and its many resources. Growth Partnership for Ashtabula exists to retain jobs and attract new industries to the county.



City cries despair

Despite these innovations, there remains an undertow of negativity, perhaps even a curse, that some residents attribute to the 1876 train disaster, which put the city on the national map in a negative way. In the latter-half of the 20th century, the city was cursed with its Rust Belt association and high Superfund-site census. Last year, when national media turned its attention to Ashtabula as a result of the National Championship Game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the University of Florida Gators, visiting writers cast the city in uncomplimentary terms, making note of its low median household income and high poverty rate, painting its empty buildings and rutted roads as stereotypical Rust Belt. Urbandictionary.com has a most uncomplimentary description of “Trashtabula,” which includes the advice: “Run this stoplight, Dude. There is no way we are stopping this car in Trashtabula.”

Text Only
Reality Check
  • images_sizedimage_070165730 Why are we hurting so? It’s time for a reality check.: Main story, Day one

    June 25, 2008 1 Photo

  • images_sizedimage_069193501 Beyond wineries and covered bridges … An introduction to reality check

    June 25, 2008 1 Photo

  • What it is, how it’s calculated Determining per capita income is a complex exercise that — at best — is a mathematical expression of a moving target.

    In its simplest terms, per capita income is, according to the Ohio Department of Development, “the income of a given area divided by the resident population of that area.” Sounds simple enough, but arriving at the figure is not.

    June 25, 2008

  • images_sizedimage_069195701 Bad vibes: Lack of opportunities, progress make for sour attitudes Eavesdrop on conversations at the lunch counter, in the aisles of Wal-Mart on a Friday evening or around the sports bar on a Sunday afternoon, and you’re likely to hear some pretty disparaging remarks about the old hometown.

    June 25, 2008 1 Photo

  • Finding work after prison nearly impossible A portion of Ashtabula County’s unemployed can’t find a job because of their prior address – a prison cell.

    June 25, 2008

  • County part of Team NEO marketing efforts Ashtabula County is part of a 16-county alliance aimed at marketing the Northeast Ohio region to employers and business investors, many of have never heard of Ashtabula, let alone Mentor, Akron or Youngstown.

    June 25, 2008

  • Some people just don’t want a job Ashtabula County Commissioner Deborah Newcomb talks to a lot of employers, and they all express the same concern: finding people reliable people with basic skills is a problem.

    June 25, 2008

  • images_sizedimage_070212402 POOR BUT WORKING A winter wind blew across the parking lot of the Neighbor to Neighbor Food Pantry next to St. Joseph’s Church in Ashtabula; the six adults lined up at the door turned their faces from the wind, toward the metaphoric concrete wall of the building.

    June 25, 2008 2 Photos

  • images_sizedimage_071213603 County's largest hospital feels the Medicaid pain Perhaps no one in Ashtabula County feels the pinch of subsidizing unemployed or underemployed individuals more than Philip E. Pawlowski.

    June 25, 2008 1 Photo

  • Crime & Drugs Inc. always hiring Some “unemployed” residents find crime to be their best source of steady income. Judge Richard Stevens of Western County Court says he noticed a 50-percent increase in the number of criminal cases handled by his court between 2005 and last year.

    June 25, 2008

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