Here are five things Clark County residents can be thankful for this Thanksgiving

The staff at Mercy Health's Springfield Regional Medical Center gather on the front lawn of the hospital Thursday to watch two Ohio Air National Guard F-16's perform a fly-over as a salute to Ohio health care workers, first responders, military members and other essential personnel. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
The staff at Mercy Health's Springfield Regional Medical Center gather on the front lawn of the hospital Thursday to watch two Ohio Air National Guard F-16's perform a fly-over as a salute to Ohio health care workers, first responders, military members and other essential personnel. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Clark County residents have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season, despite all the chaos, sadness and interruption to our lives caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health care workers became heroes and are fighting the coronavirus from the frontlines. School administrators, teachers and staff adjusted to virtual learning and are working to keep students on track. Some of the county’s historical buildings have been renovated, new businesses have opened, and community members have stepped up to help those in need.

1. Workers on the front-line of the pandemic

The Clark County Combined Health District has worked around the clock to protect residents since the first case of COVID-19 was identified in the county.

The county announced the first case of COVID-19 on April 23. Since then, health commissioner Charles Patterson provided residents regular updates on the status of the virus in the county, pushed for people to wear masks, practice social distancing and wash hands frequently. The health district has offered over 10 free pop-up testing clinics and developed a robust contact tracing team.

Doctors, nurses, other medical professionals and the staff at Springfield Regional Medical Center has been in the trenches – treating and caring for COVID-19 patients from Clark and Champaign County. A pair of F-16 jets soared over SRMC in May to salute hospital employees as part of Operation American Resolve. The flyby was conducted by the Ohio Air National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing.

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2. School districts adjusting to keep students on track

Schools across the state, including in Clark County, closed on March 16 after Gov. Mike DeWine ordered the closures of all public and private K-12 schools to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

High school seniors felt the impact immediately, with most traditional activities canceled, but districts developed individual graduation ceremonies to provide a unique memorable experience.

Tecumseh High School graduate Ellie Gehret, center, and her family pose for a picture with masks on during her individual graduation ceremony Monday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Tecumseh High School graduate Ellie Gehret, center, and her family pose for a picture with masks on during her individual graduation ceremony Monday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

“I think it was a memory we lost out on, but it’s something that’s so unique that no one’s had before so we have our own experience,” Ellie Gehret, a 2020 graduate of Tecumseh High School said.

Districts were able to reopen for the 2020-21 academic year with guidelines and safety protocols put in place, resulting in schools utilizing in-person, online or hybrid learning models.

3. Restoration of historical buildings

Two historical buildings were given new life this year.

The A.B. Graham Building in downtown Springfield reopened on Monday after a $2.5 million interior renovation project. Reconstruction on the building started in September of 2019.

The renovations at the A.B. Graham Building, originally constructed in 1901 and named after the founder of 4-H, include modernizing electrical wiring, heating and air conditioning, fire suppression, plumbing and installing a new elevator.

Although much of the transformation involved ripping out most of the aging interior and reconfiguring office spaces, several of the ironic architectural details were preserved, including the brass staircase, the marble walls and stairs, the woodworking and several of the county office doors.

All the businesses are now open in the COhatch Market and the building, which once housed the Myers Market, is again filled with people and business. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
All the businesses are now open in the COhatch Market and the building, which once housed the Myers Market, is again filled with people and business. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

COhatch The Market opened in downtown Springfield this year in the former Myer’s Market building at 101 S. Fountain St.

The historic Myer’s Market building opened in 1916 and was a community hub in the city. The building underwent at $2 million renovation over two years and has positioned itself as a downtown gathering spot.

COhatch offers co-working and private office spaces, conference rooms, event spaces and restaurant vendors — all in one building. The market portion features seven vendors: Cork + Board, Crust & Company, Fresh Abilities, Ironworks Waffle Cafe, North High Brewing, The Market Bar and The Painted Pepper.

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4. Community members supporting causes

Springfield Salvation Army and Second Harvest Food Bank were among community groups that stepped up to meet growing community needs due to the pandemic.

Ryan Ray, the development director of the Springfield Salvation Army, and his team have worked around the clock to provide utility, rent, shelter and food assistance to Clark County families.

The Salvation Army is also planning to provide toys to over 3,000 children this Christmas. Almost 40 percent of the children they are assisting are new to the Salvation Army.

Kevin Kolenda, from Gordon Foods, sorts through the giant pile of toys dropped off by Speedway employees Friday at the Salvation Army’s “Toy Shop.” Speedway is supplying Christmas gifts for over 700 needy kids in the Springfield through the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Kevin Kolenda, from Gordon Foods, sorts through the giant pile of toys dropped off by Speedway employees Friday at the Salvation Army’s “Toy Shop.” Speedway is supplying Christmas gifts for over 700 needy kids in the Springfield through the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Tyra Jackson, executive director of Second Harvest Food Bank of Clark, Champaign and Logan Counties, and her team made home deliveries when residents were unable to go to the mobile distribution sites because of the pandemic.

Second Harvest Food Bank has received assistance since March from the Ohio National Guard in order to provide additional support to the county.

5. Small businesses

The county’s food and retail scene has gained several new food trucks, restaurants and stores.

Restaurant chains like Hot Head Burritos, KFC and Wingstop expanded their presence in Springfield.

New locally owned food trucks made their way around the county featuring BBQ, cheesecake and donuts.

Cheryl Koelsch, center, owner of Mary Ellen's Studio, with Melissa Windle, left, and Betsy Yirak is the receptions area of the studio. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Cheryl Koelsch, center, owner of Mary Ellen's Studio, with Melissa Windle, left, and Betsy Yirak is the receptions area of the studio. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Rose City Boutique, located at 115 E. Ward St. in Springfield, opened and is offering a unique space for vendors and artisans to sell their products.

New personal services businesses include Mary Ellen’s Studio and Microblading & Company, LLC.

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