On a Small Town

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To municipalities of various sizes, the Ohio River is home. Numerous cities, towns, villages, and hamlets occupy the banks of the 981 miles (1579 km) from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Cairo, Illinois – but this post is about only one of them.

Neville, Ohio is a rural village along the Mighty Ohio in the southern part of my county (Clermont). Other than driving through it several times over the past 40 years, my history with Neville is nil. Founded in 1808 by Gen. Presley Neville, a Revolutionary War veteran. The US government established a post office there in Neville 10 years later – which is still operating today.

From the war memorial, to store names, to officials, certain families have dominated its history – but that’s normal in a small town. By 1880, Neville’s commercial district was vibrant as the population grew to 445.

Being along the Ohio River, Neville has battled its share of floods – especially the major floods of 1913, 1919, 1937, 1964, and 1997. The ‘97 flood the caused more than half of the population to move because, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) bought land and demolished buildings so nobody would build again on those locations.

As a village, Neville depended on funding assistance from the Ohio’s Local Government Fund. In 2010, in order to balance the state’s budget, our newly elected governor slashed the fund’s existence. Besides saving the state money, the survival-of-the-fittest approach would force local governments to either streamline their expenditures to become part of the surrounding township or merge with another municipality.

In the last 10 years, about 10 governments have dissolved – the majority since the 2011. Ohio Auditor’s office gave Neville’s mayor a choice: vote to dissolve or eventually face a court-ordered dissolution.

Today, Neville’s population of 100 has a median income of about $31,000. No businesses exist within its boundaries … and the state of Ohio has a budget surplus. This past March 15th, voters in three more villages across Ohio faced the dissolution decision on the ballot.

Somerville (Butler County) will close its doors, but Smithfield (Jefferson County) and Neville thumbed their noses at the state in order to live another day – at least until the next dissolution vote.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 88

On Japan
Last Friday we awaken to the news of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. I encourage everyone to donate to an organization that can provide help.

Blessings and God speed to all the courageous workers fighting the issues at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Meanwhile, a few continue to refer to the calamities as a punishment from God. Good news is that is NOT the God that I trust.

On an Interesting Signs
Not all that long ago, I was on I-65 south of Louisville, Kentucky, and then saw this interesting sign: Used Cows for Sale. I find differentiating cows as new and used as a bit odd, but also humorous – and I believe that the humor is the sign poster’s intent. If you are ever on I-65 in Kentucky, watch for this sign on the east side between mile markers 78 and 79. Meanwhile, a few hours south along I-65, there also a billboard for Big Jim’s Boobie Bungalow.

On a few Political Shorts
A recent Washington Post poll reveals that Sarah Palin has a very high disapproval rating. Well – there’s a shock, so did we really need the Washington Post to let us know?

As we listen to all the budget talk, let us remember that our legislators will continue to protect the sacred cows of their district and those of their financial supporters. Meanwhile, all their hoopla focuses on about 12% of the budget, thus avoiding the remaining 88% like the plague.

Columnist David Ignatius had this worth-reading piece about the situations about the demonstrations in Arab countries.

On a Rise and Fall
Last fall we vacationed in the Charlottesville, VA area. (FYI: A wonderful area) A friend, who frequently visits wineries in the area, recommended wineries for us to visit – including the Kluge Estate Winery. I’m glad we got there in October because soon thereafter, things started to happen. See this article from Forbes.

On March Madness
The madness of the NCAA tournament has begun. Within two hours of my house, tournament teams include Cincinnati, Xavier, Ohio State, Louisville, Kentucky, Butler, and Morehead. For me, I’ll be happy as long as ABK wins … anybody but Kentucky.

Meanwhile, the drought goes on for these schools since their last tournament appearance: Bowling Green (1968) Ouch … that one hurts; Columbia (1968), Tennessee Tech (1963), Yale (1962), Maine (never, eligible since 1962), New Hampshire (never, eligible since 1962), Dartmouth (1959), Harvard (1946), Army (1948), Citadel (never, eligible since 1948), Northwestern (never, eligible since 1948), St. Francis (N.Y.) (never, eligible since 1948), and William & Mary (never, eligible since 1948).

On the Flooding Ohio
Last weekend we were along the Ohio River, with its flooding waters and fast rate of flow. Not only was it a reminder of the days of my youth as I grew up in a small town along the river, but also of the dangers. Very close to our hotel, the water dislodged one of the floating restaurants. Fortunately, it didn’t go far as it hit a bridge and become lodged; plus all the patrons were safely removed.

On a Different Event for the Weekend
Last week I we attended a handbell convention. Definitely an interesting event, and between rehearsals and workshops, there wasn’t much down time. Try to imagine what a 670-member choir might sound like. The video below will give you an idea, but it only has 420 ringers. Have a good weekend.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 87

On David Broder
On Wednesday, we lost Washington Post columnist David Broder to complications with diabetes. I will miss him because of his sensible approach to the problems and issues that he addressed in his columns. Given the crazy atmosphere of the current state of US politics, I (and many others) will miss him. Thank you David Broder for practical view!
Here are two columns about Mr. Broder: one and two.

On a Few GOP Shorts
Is it too much time on their hands, or stupidity? Why else would Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin intensify attacks on First Lady Michelle Obama?

Columnist George Will recently had this interesting column about the GOP presidential nominees.

On the Public Union Debates
The news about public employee unions in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana has been front page for a few weeks. Regardless what the governors and legislators say about budgets and even school reform, these actions center on union busting. Meanwhile, the number of misinformed inaccuracies I read from the public is staggering. One thing for sure, although commonalities exist, each state is different.

On those Flood Waters
At the moment, the Ohio River is at flood stage. Of course, that has a different meaning to those living in river communities. I grew up in one, so dealing with floodwaters was a spring event that interrupted life in our small town. Hmmm … an idea for a future post.

On Women’s History Month
Until I read this post from fellow blogger (and good guy) Al, I didn’t realized that March is Women’s History Month. I encourage everyone to read this.

On Sports Shorts
Something just isn’t right that Ohio State football players received a stiffer suspension that the coach. Isn’t the coach supposed to know better? Although the NCAA may change that, time will tell if the NCAA also sanctions the university. I think they should, but don’t think they will.

Sports polls are such joke. Unlike football and its debacle known as the BCS, basketball fans roll with the polls because in the end, the one left standing in the March Madness brackets is the undisputed champion.

Baseball season is approaching, thus for me, the return of fantasy baseball. I play for fun. The version I play is free, owners don’t deal with one another, and there is no time-consuming draft. Let me know if you would like to play.

On a Different Event for the Weekend
This weekend we (along with the rest of our handbell choir) will attend a handbell convention for a five-state region. This will be our first time at an event as this, so we don’t know what to expect – plus who knows how many ringers will be there. Nonetheless, we are looking forward to the event.

Here’s a wonderful video of two combined choirs in Korea. They are talented and the piece is fun. You should notice bells, chimes, mallets, and a variety of techniques – so I encourage you to watch and enjoy. Have a good weekend everyone!