Saturday, April 19, 2014

Residents challenged by economy’s harsh reality

By JENALEA MYERS, Herald Night News Editor | 11/10/2009

It’s the topic of many dinner table discussions and morning coffee gatherings.

It’s what keeps some education and government leaders awake at night.

It’s the topic of many dinner table discussions and morning coffee gatherings.

It’s what keeps some education and government leaders awake at night.

It’s budget cuts and layoffs, cutting everyday expenses and worrying about the future.

It’s the country’s current economy, how the local economy has been affected and what it’s going to take to turn the situation around.

Education and government

Although area schools already have experienced budget cuts, the worst cuts still may be yet to come, area superintendents say.

With shrinking budgets, it has become some teachers’ responsibilities to provide some items like school supplies.

Teri Howard, a Title I Reading instructor at Lincoln Elementary School in Ottawa, said some teachers spend up to $400 on supplies yearly in order to help students meet annual yearly progress and other state assessment requirements.

But school districts aren’t the only entities dealing with budget cuts.

When budget season rolled around for Ottawa and Franklin County commissioners, they say they made cuts that would affect the public the least.

Family and lifestyles

During tough times, some people turn to God, local pastors say.

Others seek counseling to help their family through a time of unemployment or little money, a local extension agent says.

And some families, like Darin and Rebecca Schmoe, are taking additional steps to cut costs during the economic downturn.

The Schmoe family has made a family garden and creates two week’s worth of menus from grocery coupons and even discontinued their cable service.

While local residents like the Schmoes cut costs, others have been forced to ask for help, local social services officials say.

Compared to last year, hundreds of more people have sought help from Hope House, the food pantry sponsored by the Ottawa Ministerial Alliance, coordinator Mary Lois Yates says.

Arts, entertainment and recreation

With extra stress at home and at work, some local residents are looking for an escape.

That’s where arts and entertainment organizations and recreation come into play.

While some organizations have taken their own budget cuts, they still can provide services to the public for a relatively low price or even free, advocates say.

Places like libraries even can offer entertainment like books and movies, local librarians say.

Along with entertainment options, foot traffic has increased at libraries as many people use their services like computers and newspaper classifieds to search for jobs.

Business and Employment

Although some businesses have been forced to close their doors over the past year, Franklin County has added a number of new businesses and expansions despite the recession.

And some of the county’s top employers — like Schuff Steel, Ottawa Retirement Village and Ransom Memorial Hospital — say they’ve been able to weather the economic storm with a minimal number or no layoffs.

While some local residents continue to search for employment, there are some jobs — engineering, health and education, for instance — that usually are available, the manager of Ottawa’s unemployment office says.

Investments and Health

While some people may be delaying their retirements until the economy improves, some have been forced to come out of retirement to support their families.

When Debbie Aubert retired from the West Franklin School District, she planned to spend more time with her family and continue to substitute teach. Now, Aubert can be found working at Ottawa’s Ferrellgas.

Is it the right time to invest money? That’s a question local investment experts often are asked. It could be the right time for certain investments, they say.

With fewer people having health insurance, some are waiting until the last minute to receive treatment, health officials say. That means more people are turning to the ER with minor problems that became major problems, they say.

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