GALLIA COUNTY — With 2019 fast approaching, the Gallipolis Daily Tribune looks back at 2018 and some of the most impactful events and people to sway Gallia’s history over the course of the year.
Top stories from across 2018 will be published looking across quarters of the year with top stories from the first quarter appearing in Friday’s Tribune.
In April, after nearly eight years of operation and providing healthcare to those who could not afford it, the French 500 Clinic said goodbye to southeast Ohio and its Appalachian patients. French 500 Clinic Board members Tony Gallagher, Dr. Mel Simon and his wife Lydia Simon reflected on their years with the clinic and thanked the many who volunteered their time and knowledge to the assistance of the clinic’s patients. The clinic’s anniversary was August 30, 2009.
“We started out with only Gallia County and then we went out to other counties and accepted them,” said Gallagher. “But we would only take people who had no insurance.”
Gallagher said certain forms of government subsidized healthcare was also accepted in the clinic, but not all. He said it had not been uncommon for the clinic to have patients that hadn’t had care in several years. The focus of the clinic was to provide healthcare to those who could not afford it.
Lydia said that with patient numbers dwindling in the last year and the financial burden to continue funding the clinic taking its toll, the group had decided it was time to close the clinic.
In early May, Bob Evans Restaurants donated approximately 270 acres of land across from the company’s Homestead Farm to the University of Rio Grande, while keeping the property on which the restaurant and farm are located.
“The University of Rio Grande places great value on its continued collaboration with Bob Evans and the Homestead Farm, and we are honored that the company is entrusting us with this land,” said then URG President Dr. Michelle Johnston before her resignation at the end of May. “This generous donation was made at no cost to the University and the additional space will provide us with options for the future, while retaining the firm roots of the farm.”
Landowners bordering the Wayne National Forest gathered in the Oak Hill High School cafeteria May 9 to discuss concerns and questions with the Sunny Oaks Project. Employees of the Wayne National Forest presented before landowners as part of a process called scoping in order to collect information about their opinions and feelings as well inform participants as to the proposed process.
From previous information presented to Ohio Valley Publishing by the Wayne National Forest, the project, called The Sunny Oaks Project, is located east of State Route 93, west of State Route 141, north of the community of Aid and south of the community of Oak Hill. The project area is located in parts of Jackson, Gallia, and Lawrence Counties. If approved, the proposal would authorize the harvest of about 2,900 acres of forest through a mix of clearcut and shelterwood harvests. These harvest types are designed to favor oak and hickory forest regeneration, especially when they are combined with other “timber stand improvement” (TSI) treatment.
Gallipolis in Bloom planted May 19 for its first time in several years while not competing in the annual America in Bloom competition.
According to then Gallipolis in Bloom President Bev Dunkle in January, she is considering retirement in the coming years and was ready to step down as the chairperson of GIB efforts in the America in Bloom competition. To partake in the annual AIB competition GIB has been part of the last 12 years, paperwork must be typically submitted by February. Dunkle has been the president of the nonprofit organization since the late 2000s. Dunkle will remain with the committee in an advisory capacity. Volunteer Coordinator Kim Canaday says the group would focus on what it does best, planting flowers, and while it did not compete this year, it will continue leading the charge in beautifying the town.
On June 6, Bidwell native Ryan Smith was named the first Gallia resident to become Speaker of the House in Ohio’s General Assembly after his time as the House Finance Chair.
Smith began his career in politics after running for the Gallipolis City School Board in 2007. In 2011, Representative John Carey resigned before Smith would announce his candidacy for the 2012 election. Smith would win the 2012 election and again in 2014 and 2016. Smith would eventually win as the incumbent for representative in 2018.
“It is important to me that southeast Ohio have the strongest voice it can have in the state legislature. Being Speaker gives me the greatest opportunity to make a difference for the families in our region,” he said to Ohio Valley Publishing before his reelection in November.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.