Lima, Ohio: Far from “the middle of nowhere”

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Unless you’re a fan of Glee (that high school’s fictional, by the way), or regularly traverse the I-75 valley, you probably have no idea where Lima, Ohio is. And if you read “Lima, Ohio” you might think, “I thought Lima was the capital of Peru? What’s it doing in Ohio?” (To which I have to say – no. That Lima is pronounced “lee-ma.” The one in Ohio is pronounced “lie-ma”).

 
But, like the rest of Ohio, Lima is just another well-kept secret. Unfortunately, many cities in northwest Ohio do not get their due, and Lima is no exception. The city has a “middle of nowhere” reputation it doesn’t deserve. Considering its leaders, rich history, manufacturing success, and the art and creativity you can find anywhere in the city, it’s a surprise that Lima isn’t larger than it is.
 
Let’s start with the arts. Lima has produced several notable musicians and artists over the years – including jazz legend, Joe Henderson; founding member of The Beach Boys, Al Jardine; and renowned actress and comedienne, Phyllis Diller. Small towns are never acknowledged for the intimate environment they offer artists, musicians and other creatives. In a small town, it’s easy to collaborate, make connections, and influence others in a innovative and inventive way. So when you walk the streets of downtown Lima, it’s no surprise that art colors the streets and injects the city with energy. Gaze at the work of local and regional artists in ArtSpace on Town Square; wander through Children’s Garden, which combines plants, art, and history for an eye-pleasing, interactive adventure for all ages; or spend a night at the Lima Symphony Orchestra, established in 1953 and has grown from 50 volunteer musicians to 75 paid musicians since then. With all this, and more, it’s clear Lima and art breathe life into each other.
 
But art isn’t all Lima has to offer. The city’s two hospitals, St. Rita’s Medical Center and Lima Memorial Health system, serve 10 counties in the northwest and west central Ohio area. St. Rita’s, a level two trauma center, ranks as Allen County’s largest employer (nearly 4,000 employees as of 2006), with Lima Memorial coming in at number three. In 2005, St. Rita’s embarked on a $150 million expansion that would provide 500 new jobs and top-of-the-line, cutting-edge patient care. This expansion opened in 2007 and was deemed “The Medical Center of the Future.” When you look at the leaps and bounds Lima is making in the medical field, there’s no doubt it will be the next Medical Center of the Future.
 
We would be remiss if we did not mention Lima’s history and important role in the railroad industry. For more than 70 years, Lima acted as a railroad hub for the midwest – the industry carried the city’s name internationally for decades. Many firsts for the locomotive industry happened in Lima – the first locomotive (christened The Lima) appeared in Allen County in 1854; a design that enabled locomotives to use steam at a higher power enabled Lima to capture 20% of the national locomotive market; and the Cheasapeak and Ohio Railway 2-6-6-6 produced in Lima was one of the largest locomotives ever built. In 1906 a freight train, on average, would pass through Lima every ten minutes. Additionally, on average, a passenger train (steam and electric) stopped in Lima every 20 minutes. However, the Great Depression saw the decline of the locomotive industry in Lima, with a slight increase during WWII, only to decline again in the ’50s. The last passenger train to stop in Lima was the Broadway Limited, owned by Amtrak, on November 11, 1990.  A handful of freights still pass through Lima, but we cannot deny the role Lima played in making the railroad industry what it is today.
 
Though the locomotive industry and the manufacturing of locomotives in Lima saw a decline, manufacturing as a whole did not. In fact, the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center (JSMC) has been producing tanks since 1942, and equipment for the United States Marine Corps since 2004. While there are plans to end tank production from 2015-2017 due to a lack of demand by the army, there are no plans to permanently close the center. JSMC will continue to produce other products, and while there is discussion of a layaway of the plant, it is far from ceasing to contribute to the Lima area’s economy.
 
With everything discussed so far, and considering the determination, dedication, and success of Mayor David J. Berger, you would have to have suffered a head injury to think Lima’s not a swiftly growing city. In 2009, Mayor Berger was re-elected for an unprecedented sixth term, and has overseen many successful projects. Despite the recession and reduced resources, the Berger Administration has maintained the quality of services in Lima. Securing almost $20 million in federal stimulus money, the City has executed numerous projects – such as the Vine Street underpass (completed late 2011) which enables traffic to move around trains, and the new Williams reservoir (completed fall 2011) which adds over 5 billion gallons of storage capacity to the city’s water system. Mayor Berger and the Berger administration are a team that understands what Lima needs, and does not fail to deliver.
 
Though Lima is a small city, it’s a booming city. And as it grows, there’s no doubt it will continue to be a booming city. With its history of success, a rich and flourishing arts community, a dedicated and committed team of leaders, and high quality healthcare and medical research, it’s obvious Lima is a city to invest in – not a city to brush off as “the middle of nowhere.”

Social Media: Demystifying Agriculture

Social media is an awful thing. I probably don’t even have to explain myself when I make that statement, but I will anyways. If you’re anything like every other child of the digital age, you waste hours of your life on social media sites (hours that you will never get back, I might add. They all belong to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Tumblr now) because you need to know what that popular kid who always picked on you in high school is doing with his/her life. You need to know what Olivia Wilde just tweeted. You need to know the latest meme (if you don’t know what a meme is, don’t worry. It’s just another thing to leech away hours of your day), because what if it changes your life?!

 
Plot twist – social media is actually pretty awesome.
 
Wait, what? I started this post with “Social media is an awful thing” and now I’m telling you, “No, just kidding! It was a joke! Social media is perfect, use it for 7.48239 hours a day, every day, for the rest of your life!”
 
Let me elaborate. 
 
Social media is pretty awesome – provided you use it productively.
 
At this word – productive – you cringe. “Productive?!” you cry. “I was productive at work for the last 8 hours, and now you’re telling me that mindless, recreational activities should be done productively?!”
 
Whoa, calm down there. Let me explain my logic, and then you can cry your eyes out if you want.
 
Social media is great for what I like to think of as “learning by osmosis.” Let’s use agriculture as an example. Agriculture is a huge industry in Ohio – contributing billions of dollars to the economy annually. And with the locavore movement on the rise, it’s no surprise that people, especially Ohioians, are turning to the internet to find out more about their food – where it comes from, who made it, the conditions it was made under, how it got on their table, and so on. But researching your food takes a significant amount of time. How can you research your food without feeling like you’re pulling an all-nighter writing the final paper for your Edgar Allan Poe seminar?
 
This is where learning by osmosis comes in. You don’t have to go completely out of your way to learn about agriculture. “Like” pages related to farming and husbandry. Follow experts who write regularly on issues facing the agriculture industry. Check out hashtags to find out what’s happening on farms in your area. For instance, on Twitter, you can read about the planting season by taking a look at the #plant13 hashtag. You’ll learn about the life of a corn seed, the machinery used in the planting process, how many farms had to delay planting because of the recent rains, and more. Social media is demystifying industries, such as agriculture, for us, and making it easier learn where our food comes from. 
 
Learning by osmosis is one of the best uses of social media. I know about the politics and ethics behind growing quinoa, can articulately talk about the practical and artistic uses of additive manufacturing (also known as 3D printing), and educate you on numerous other subjects not because I sat down to learn about these things. Quite the contrary – I sat down to check my Facebook, scroll through my Tumblr dashboard, or use some of form of social media. Social media is clearing away the fog surrounding industries we can’t learn about through first hand experience or interactions. Now, when you groan because it’s a gloomy, rainy day, I’ll groan because there are farmers who have to replant their crop that was washed away in the rain.