NEW LEXINGTON — Community members came together for the monthly Coffee With Some Commissioners last week at Dodson’s on Broadway. The featured presentation was given by Lesha Farius of the Perry County Think Tank on Poverty (PCTTP) and highlighted what the organization is doing.
Perry County Commissioner Ben Carpenter introduced Farias to those present. He stated that the organization has met with the commissioners several times so he and the other commissioners invited them to speak at the monthly breakfast.
Farius stated the PCTTP was started in Perry County so that people who are in need can have their voices heard and stories told about living in poverty. Six years ago, the Newark Think Tank on Poverty was founded in order to address similar issues in that area. Last year, a Think Tank on Poverty was started in Perry County.
“We believe that, with these Think Tanks, we can really revitalize our democracy and make sure that all citizens have a voice and are involved in making the decisions that affect all of us,” Farias commented.
Recently, PCTTP members and Farias were present at a public meeting held by the Mobility Management of Perry County. In that meeting, Mobility Manager Lisa Leckrone presented a list of organizations and agencies that are working with her department on a public transportation plan. Farias raised her hand and asked if the PCTTP could be added to the list, and Leckrone responded with “yes.”
Farias stated that while Perry County Transit does a good job of helping “certain segments” of the county population well, there are still some residents that struggle with transit daily.
“We can work together to make it better for everyone,” Farias addressed to the crowd.
When the Think Tank first held a public meeting, they asked residents what were the reasons people are stuck in poverty in the county. Farias stated that many community members stated that broadband is needed for residents.
“Unless we have adequate broadband, we cannot have economic development, we cannot have adequate education for our children, we cannot have adequate healthcare,” Farias said. “It affects us in every possible way so its something that we need to strive for.”
Farias stated that her and the PCTTP have met with the county commissioners to address this issue. There are areas within Perry County where it is difficult to get a steady internet connection. Cellular coverage in the county is also scarce with some areas being prone to dropping calls.
Farias provided pamphlets that described what the organization does and the work they have done for the homeless and others in need.
The Perry County Think Tank on Poverty hosts monthly meetings to discuss issues on poverty in Perry County. The general meetings are open to the public in order to increase the education and address economic barriers that prevent local residents from living healthy lives. The next monthly meeting scheduled for the PCTTP is July 30 at the Saint Rose Community Center.
The Perry County Think Tank was created in 2018 by local officials. Involved in the creation was St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry who saw that a Think Tank was needed in the county region in order to address issues that keep people in need of food pantries.
The organization has voted and is working with issues in the county that involve access to broadband, reentry and homelessness. The Think Tank also tries to help address issues involving the impact of substance abuse and addiction on families and children in the county.
The PCTTP has been hard at work trying to get better internet coverage in the county. The group has presented to the Perry County Commissioners and is currently working with county officials, emergency medical services, school districts, USDA and other local and federal government leaders to secure broadband internet in the county.
Since the first Think Tank was created, the Vincentian Ohio Action Network was formed in order to assist in the Think Tanks on Poverty. The Think Tanks have also expanded to Perry County, Zanesville, Lancaster and Columbus.
The next monthly meeting for the PCTTP is set for July 30 at St. Rose Community Center. There will be free food for attendees at 5:30 p.m. and the full meeting will start at 6 p.m.
The public meeting will focus on mental health services located in New Lexington. There will be a panel of members from Perry County Behavioral Health Choices, Integrated Services and Alwell.