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Guest Column

July 10, 2009

State Representative Shannon Jones

Contact: Megan Coyle

(614) 644-6027

Guest Column From State Representative Shannon Jones

Summer Fun and Learning Right Here at Home

Families across Ohio are enjoying the activities of summer in full swing this month. With longer days, and plenty of time on their hands, many kids and parents are looking for something new and different to do this year. And due to our economy and tough times on the family budget, trips to far off places and costly vacations may very well be out of the picture.

In a growing trend, many families in Ohio and across the nation are finding hidden treasures right around the corner – whether at state and local parks, historical sites and museums, or just lower-cost entertainment right in our own communities. Here in Warren County, we’re no different.

We often forget, but our region of Ohio has many fun and family-friendly options for summertime entertainment. Of course we have the Beach Water Park, Great Wolf Lodge, and Kings Island – which attract thrill-seekers and fun-enthusiasts from across Ohio and beyond, including my own kids – but we also have other options for summer activities, many that include learning opportunities, and they’re just steps away.

Designated as Ohio’s first state park in 1891, Fort Ancient offers families the opportunity for learning and exploration of Ohio’s past at a prehistoric earthwork built by the Hopewell Indians. Here visitors can learn about the first Ohioans, the development of agriculture and the history of the settlers who immigrated here. The 9,000 square foot museum – which features interactive exhibits, a classroom, a research area, and a gift shop – provides those who come the opportunity to learn about the history of the site itself while indoors, but the tour of the grounds should not be missed.

At the southern end of the site, guests have an opportunity to experience the North Overlook, where they can take in more than 3.5 miles of the Little Miami River Valley and learn more about the discoveries that have been uncovered in just the past two years at what is now called Moorehead Circle. Regardless of what you choose to experience here, this National Historic Landmark gives visitors the opportunity to learn something new and experience first-hand the impact of history. To learn more about Fort Ancient, please visit www.ohiohistory.org or call 800-283-8904.

If hands-on, fast-paced, physical activity is more your style, you may want to take the family to Ozone Zipline Adventures. This high-flying adventure through the treetops of the Little Miami River Valley gives visitors plenty of activity, fun and excitement. With a tour of ziplines more than 2 miles long, participants will fly through the trees more than 11 stories off the ground, crossing ravines and natural areas, moving along at 15-35 miles per hour while suspended from one of the many ziplines. And, not without a learning opportunity of its own, at each point along the tour, guides will discuss the history and topography of the land, ecology and fossils, and the basic physics of the ziplines themselves.

In a partnership with Camp Kern, a branch of the YMCA of Greater Dayton, this site is a win-win for our area, particularly for our schoolchildren. Proceeds of the zipline tour help to subsidize many of Camp Kern’s school programs, which provide an outdoor learning experience and a residential camp experience to area kids who might not otherwise have this opportunity. To learn more about Camp Kern and Ozone Zipline Adventures, visit their website at www.ozonezips.org or give them a call at 513-932-3756.

Another fun adventure for families to enjoy is the Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad. This is a unique opportunity for kids of all ages to experience a nostalgic train ride through Warren County. Visitors can walk through the train, learn about railroad history from conductors, and experience the open-air gondola. The train itself operates between Lebanon, Mason and Monroe and offers riders the chance to experience one of the oldest working locomotives. Upcoming events at the railroad include appearances by Clifford the Big Red Dog, a day out with Thomas the Train, and other kid favorites. For more information on the railroad, ticket prices and hours of operation, contact them at 513-933-8022 or visit their website at www.lebanonrr.com.

These are just several opportunities for summer fun here in Warren County – but there are many more opportunities out there as well. The Warren County Convention and Visitors Bureau has a great website for families looking for fun outings this summer. Check out their webpage at www.ohioslargestplayground.com or call them toll-free at 800-791-4FUN (4386) to learn more.

Also, don’t miss the Warren County Fair July 20-25 in Lebanon. The fair will feature fun family activities including magic shows, camel rides, karaoke and a zoo. It will also feature livestock judging and junior fair contests in celebration of Ohio’s rich agricultural heritage. My family and I will surely be out there enjoying the fair food, fun and festivities.

I sincerely hope you and your family are having a safe and fun summer. Please know, if there is anything you would like to discuss with me, my door is always open. Stop me out at the fair, or at one of the other events in the community, or feel free to contact my office at (614) 644-6027 or in writing to State Representative Shannon Jones, 77 South High Street, 10th floor, Columbus, OH 43215. I am also available via e-mail at district67@ohr.state.oh.us.

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