Saturday, January 3, 2009

An Uplifting Celebration

Thanks to all for your kind and generous prayers and comments about Tom Garber, posted here or communicated in other ways to members of his family. It's been an incredible outpouring.

Today, we had a wonderful and uplifting memorial service in honor of Uncle Tom. So many long-time friends, family members, colleagues, and even new friends he met through the parades he loved so much, all joined to celebrate his great life, retell and relive all the great "Uncle Tom stories," and remember the impact he had on our lives.

He is still clearly with all of us.

Winton Road: Investing in Infrastructure to Grow Our Economy

While it won't grab as many headlines as the latest crime or political scandal, an important story ran in today's Enquirer that I hope we'll see a lot of in 2009.

It was a description of the County's $5.6 million project to upgrade Winton Road, which will take place over much of 2009. And the article helps explain why this kind of infrastructure investment and improvement is so important. For when the government commits to improve and beautify the portion of a community that it controls (the public infrastructure), the private sector, seeing that commitment, usually follows close behind.

This case is a perfect example, where the private sector has invested millions of additional dollars as the County Engineer has implemented the public infrastructure portion of improvements along Winton Rd. And the article explains nicely how a similar project in Colerain Township several years back brought up to $100 million in overall investment.

So projects like these not only lead directly to the jobs needed to implement them, but if done right, they stimulate for more work, economic development and job creation from the private side--and those jobs last long after the project is done.

In 2009, look for a real focus on this kind of infrastructure improvement from County government.

Thanks to the Engineer for his hard work on this important project.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

With the historic presidential election occupying most of the year and the economic crisis dominating the end, 2008 may go down as one of the more momentous in our history and definitely our lifetimes: 1932, 1941, 1945, 1968 . . . 2008.

Here's hoping that 2009 brings stable, solid economic recovery for America's families, workers and businesses. No history or drama needed. Just quiet, steady good news.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tom Garber: 1942-2008

Anyone who attended, participated or watched any major parade in the last seven years in Cincinnati or (later) Hamilton County will most likely have seen two people in almost every one: 1) me and 2) Tom Garber (my uncle).

Both of us loved campaigning, and loved parades in particular.
And through all my years campaigning or parading while in office, amid so many wonderful campaign staff and volunteers, no one marched in more parades or campaigned and greeted people with more enthusiasm than Uncle Tom.

Campaigns are tiring. Parades are tiring. The crowded ones in particular are hard work. And the wet ones can be, well, very wet and very cold. Most people do a few, but then move on (understandably). Not Uncle Tom. Into his mid 60s, Uncle Tom almost never missed a parade. Amid many changing parts and people, he was the constant. The most reliable volunteer we had.
And he became someone that all other staff and volunteers would learn to count on, and would call for help. Not just to walk a parade. But to work it, and show others how to do the same. If we needed a driver, he drove; a banner carrier, he carried; someone to pass out bags, he passed out 1,000. And his enthusiasm rubbed off on everyone else.

Tom passed away last night after a tough bout with cancer, and after enduring more medical challenges over 35 years than any one person should have to shoulder.

Even with those challenges, he led life like he walked and worked those parades. Always reliable--and with energy and enthusiasm. He had fun. Loved meeting people, joking with people, having fun. And this great athlete faced and overcame decades of medical challenges and surgeries without an ounce of self-pity, and without any complaining. He personified strength--quiet, stoic strength.

Tom left this world with three wonderful children who are doing great things, and a loving companion in Elaine. We pray for them in particular as they mourn his passing.

But like the thousands of citizens he met along parade routes, he touched so many others with his energy, enthusiasm and love of life. And to those who knew that all that enthusiasm bounded forth despite underlying challenges and pains that he had to endure almost every day, he inspired us with his strength and resilience.

After leaving a profound mark on all that knew him, Uncle Tom, deeply loved by his family, will be sorely missed.

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Look at the Future: Green Roofing the Museum Center

A story in today's paper gave us a glimpse of our "green" future--discussing "green roofing" the Museum Center.

As a member of our County Stormwater District, I can't tell you how important it is that we implement green roof, permeable pavement and other "green infrastructure" concepts as much as possible.

These steps help minimize stormwater runoff and sewer overflows, and, ultimately, help clean up our local streams and rivers. They also have a broader environmental impact by reducing the "Urban Heat Island Effect." (Go here and here for more information). They also save us a lot of money versus the alternative solution--building bigger and bigger "gray" sewer infrastructure to handle all the volumes of stormwater that results if it is not diverted. As in so many other areas, a little prevention upfront saves millions on the back end, in addition to being good for the environment.

We have a long way to go (other cities like Chicago have really pushed this aggressively--the photo above is of Chicago's City Hall, courtesy of Roofscapes, Inc.), but it's great to see the Museum Center and other institutions such as Christ Hospital, the Red Cross, and the Cincinnati Fire Department take this step.

And in 2008, I was happy to support (as a member of the Stormwater District) green roof demonstration projects at the Cincinnati Zoo's Giraffe House and at the Civic Garden Center in Avondale. We'll look to do even more as a community in 2009 and beyond.
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