Hope for the Hope Fund

By Del Duduit
The COVID-19 pandemic is taking its toll on the area businesses and communities all over the nation. But a Portsmouth foundation is making sure that kids in Southern Ohio do not go hungry

Mark and Virgie Hunter, founders

That is the mission of Mark and Virgie Hunter, who founded and operate Steven’s Power Pack program under the umbrella of the Steven A Hunter Hope Fund.
The fund was established in January of 2006, in memory of their son, Steven, who died suddenly at the age of 21 from an undetected heart disorder while he was at Milligan University in Tennessee.

Steven was a 2003 graduate of Portsmouth High School and an accomplished tennis player.
His smile and enthusiasm inspired those around him, and living by his strong Christian faith, he spent his life trying to encourage others; helping those in need, not only of resources, but also of friendship. His parents felt the need to keep his acts of kindness alive and help area students.
Southern Ohio has its economic issues, and many students receive a state-funded lunch.

The Power Pack Program sends back packs full of food home for the weekend for more than 1,300 elementary students in the area, in three surrounding counties of Scioto, Pike and Adams.
But now schools have been closed because of the virus for the remainder of the academic year and that has brought another challenge to Mark and Virgie.
“In the beginning of this pandemic, I was worried about the mechanics of getting the power packs to the students, and I reached out to a few of the schools,” he said. “But they have all come up with different and unique ways to make sure the students get their food, and their power packs. They have been fantastic.”
One aspect that Mark was concerned about was the FreeStore Foodbank in Cincinnati, which makes and delivers the power packs to Steven’s Hope Fund in Scioto County, about two hours away.
“They had to shut down their packing operations as far as bringing in the large number of volunteers because of COVID-19” he said. “That was a big adjustment.”

In early April, Mark, who works full time at the Hunter-Williams Insurance Agency, said he and some volunteers from Portsmouth City Schools and Lifepoint Church had to pack about two weeks-worth of power packs because of the shutdown.
Some schools that could store a month’s supply were in good shape, but there were others who were out of the power packs.
“We’ve been trying to get more food in to make things better for our kids,” he said. “But we know God always provides. It’s just been a challenge.”
One need that was met was when the Ohio National Guard delivered 34,000 pounds of extra food for students in Scioto County.
“That was a big answer to prayer,” he said. “They were very substantial, and each box had 30 to 35 pounds of food, in addition to their normal Power Packs.”
The other area of concern that lingers in the back of Mark and Virgie’s minds will be donations for the foundation this year.
The Steven A. Hunter Hope Fund is a non-profit charity that operates on faith.
“All of our big annual events right now have all been canceled because of the pandemic,” Mark said. “It might be a rough year and I have looked at applying for some grants to help us through the next few months to offset the lack of fundraising.”
But people have recognized how important the Power Pack Program is to local schools, and some have stepped up to help.
For example, The Friends of Portsmouth organization, which is home to Mark and Virgie, donated $10,000 to the cause. And others have stepped up to the plate.
“That was such a blessing,” Mark said. “People will rise up and help a good cause.”
He feels confident he will be able to stay focused through the middle of May, when school typically dismisses for the year.
But this has not be the typical school year.
“We have never seen anything like this before and our mission is to make sure the kids enrolled in the power pack program stay fed,” he said. “There are a lot of hungry kids out there who need us.”
Mark and Virgie have poured their hearts into this foundation to honor their son. They have worked to ensure young children are fed when they go home for the weekend through the Power Pack program.
They are determined not to let a pandemic stop their mission.
What do you do to help those around you in need?

Financial contributions can be made here.

Del Duduit is an award-winning writer and author who lives in Lucasville, Ohio with his wife, Angie. They attend Rubyville Community Church. Follow his blog at delduduit.com/blog and his Twitter @delduduit. He is represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency.

Ohioans are Hurting – All Businesses Must Safely Reopen Immediately

Small town businesses left in limbo by the Governor. No income and no reopening date in sight.

Initially Ohioans were told and believed that nearly 10,000 people a day would be infected with COVID19. Hospitals would be overrun, proper protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators would not be able to meet the demand. We were in crisis and the best way to address the pandemic was to close our businesses at the end of said day and stay sheltered in place.

Given the seriousness of the science Ohioans complied. We were told the goal was to flatten the curve so that hospitals could manage the case loads of critical patients. This would not eliminate the virus and that over time many if not most of us would have COVID19. Most of us would have slight symptoms while others with certain underlying health condition could risk more serious symptoms and even death.

Now nearly two months into the quarantine, the science doesn’t match the initial predictions. Current numbers from the Ohio Department of Health show 17,303 total COVID19 cases far short of the predicted 10,000 cases per day. The number of individuals who have been infected is unknown as people with mild symptoms were told to stay home.

The Governor has begun to reopen Ohio for business but not for everyone. Small retailers, hair salons and restaurants have received no guidance as to when they can open. And as they wait for that guidance they wonder if they will be able to financially survive. Most will not.

Thomas Garage Inc. located at the Ohio Valley Mall was among businesses to receive authorization that they could reopen today, May 1.

Owner Robert Thomas said the dealership will be at full staff and doing business as usual, except for mandatory masks for employees, and lots of cleaning and disinfecting.

Thomas Garage has been in business for over a century and employs 45 people.

“This the first time in 103 years we have ever laid a person off of work,” said Thomas. “Every one of our employees understood our decisions we made and have stuck with us. We are very fortunate for our employees and our managers.”

It is unknown how the new lockdown order issued by Ohio Health Director Amy Acton last night will affect the dealership’s business.

Many small business owners have testified before the Ohio 2020 Task Force that they have taken appropriate steps to ensure the safety of their employees and costumers once their business reopens.

The owner of Tangles Hair and Nail Studio in St. Clairsville, Marie “Elaina” Harris said, “Our industry standards in sanitization and sterilization are second to none. We understand and agree that the health and safety of our guests and staff are top priority.”

Added Harris, “We have full faith that we are capable of creating a safe environment for all, while continuing to make our guests beautiful.”

Darcee Williams, owner of Revival Salon & Spa, also in St. Clairsville, said her salon had just opened its doors for business 18 days before being ordered to close.

“We will spend time and money in cleaning, making safety improvements suggested and mandated by the state, as well as PPE equipment,” said Williams. “We have a ton of local support, we are just awaiting our reopening.”

Williams said the salon’s six stylists and two licensed massage therapists are all independent contractors. “We have been unsuccessful with unemployment, SBA loans and most of us are still awaiting a stimulus check. Financially this is very difficult on all of us.”

While Ohio salons remain closed, salons in West Virginia and Pennsylvania are reopening. It is inevitable that some clients will cross state lines to obtain the services that they cannot get here, said the East Ohio stylists.

If large retailers can safely keep their doors open for the purchase of groceries and other critical needs so can small retailers who have yet been given the green light to reopen by the Governor. Many of these are small retail shops that have been in families for generations and are the backbone of small-town Ohio.

In addition, some mini-farming operations say they are struggling to buy feed for their animals. These small farms do not qualify for government subsidies.

Sandy Hill Boer Goats raises goats for 4-H kids who intend to show them at the county fair, as does Kid Sittin’ Acres LLC in Colerain. Both farms report that buying feed and paying associated expenses has been difficult.

Some county fairs have already been cancelled for this year.

Democrats Will Never Let a Crisis go to Waste

The COVID-19 pandemic has closed schools and many businesses across the nation.

Social distancing is a way of life now, while decorative face masks have set new fashion trends. I have mine adorned with The Ohio State Buckeyes.

The mainstream media has treated President Trump with blatant disrespect, and they seem to be cheering for the virus to wreak havoc on the economy during the daily press briefings.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi proudly showed off her stash of ice cream while her district in San Francisco was in chaos.
But one thing is evident.

The party she leads has lost focus and does not appear to have the immediate best interest of people in mind. I believe she wants this virus to keep the nation shut down, and the economy to remain in the tank.

She and her party have held stimulus packages for ransom, and they now believe they can manipulate the outcome of the presidential election in their favor. Instead of helping the nation recover, she wants to help her own liberal agenda.

In their minds, the pandemic’s collateral damage is the last chance to defeat President Trump this November.

All other schemes and tactics failed miserably over the past three years.

The Democrats appear willing to allow the economy to crumble while people suffer massive job losses in hopes of taking over The White House.
If they can manipulate and change the rules, then they can sabotage the outcome of the election in their favor.

Prominent Democrats are all now pushing to change the rules to allow for mail-in voting this year. That’s absurd.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who said in February that the coronavirus was not a serious health threat, now says he doesn’t foresee a situation where citizens should be allowed to turn out in person to cast a vote.

Although he is touted as the best in health care, he is also considered by many to be a supporter of Hillary Clinton.

The sudden call to switch the rules and open the door to potential cheating is alarming.

Pelosi is proposing legislation in favor of “ballot harvesting.” Those two words are chilling enough.

It will permit any person to collect and turn in someone else’s ballot with little oversight of how many votes one person can gather. A scenario where a person harvests and turns in multiple tainted ballots to be counted is a real threat to democracy. And Democrats have a history of tinkering with ballots that suddenly appear from closets or trunks of cars when they are needed.

If they can hold fake impeachment hearings, fake Russia probes, a fake porn star fiasco and fake investigations into Trump’s life, they can produce a trillion votes for Joe Biden and scoot him into the Oval Office.

If that is not an option, there is talk from the Democrats to push back the election until the pandemic crisis is over. And who knows when that might be because Democrats don’t appear to want to allow people to go back to work.

They might want to delay the elections because Joe Biden, their presumptive nominee, cannot form a coherent sentence when he talks. By delaying the election, they could find a way to push him out of the way for another candidate.

His incoherent jabbering, combined with the sexual misconduct allegations from a former staffer that has come to light, have caused red flashing lights all over. However, the mainstream media have intentionally ignored the signals. Instead, they have opted to play as hypocritical cowards and not cover the scandal because it will only help Trump.

The election is six months away, and no one knows if the virus will be around when voters go to the ballot box.

People are permitted now to go the grocery store. Residents can go to Walmart and shop and are encouraged to adhere to guidelines.
But they can’t go vote? Democrats see this pandemic as an avenue to capture the White House. They are selfish and dangerous.

If some state leaders can allow abortion clinics to remain open, then all Americans should be permitted to vote for president without having their rights and votes harvested.

Author Del Duduit

Del Duduit is an award-winning writer and author who lives in Lucasville, Ohio with his wife, Angie. They attend Rubyville Community Church. Follow his blog at delduduit.com/blog and his Twitter @delduduit. He is represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency.


Governor DeWine Picks Winners and Losers with State Reopening Plan

Main Street Ohio remains closed while larger stores and vendors open

Governor DeWine announced his plan to gradually reopen the state of Ohio beginning May 4th. Citing concerns about opening too quickly and potentially threatening the health of the community DeWine and his team determined that certain medical procedure, dental practices and veterinarian clinics as well as large chain stores would open. Smaller main street Ohio mom and pop shops, hair salons, bars and restaurants would remain closed.

DeWine offered no metrics or insight into his decision making regarding who reopens and who remains closed. Nor did he provide criteria that would determine when these smaller businesses would reopen leaving the already financially challenged small businesses teetering on permanent closure.

If health and safety are the key factors the list of winners doesn’t make sense.

For example, there is more risk to having a dental procedure than having your hair cut. Dental procedures involve bacteria, purulent, and blood all in a very close proximity to the mouth and face of both the dentist, dental assistant and client. The face and mouth have been identified by Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton as the critical location for internalizing the virus. Additionally, the list of complications after a dental procedure can include cardiovascular as well as dry socket, bone infection, Osteonecrosis of the jaw. There is also risk of disease infection in dental office. While it makes sense that dental procedures are necessary if not critical for overall health there is risk involved.

So, the question is why can’t hair salons and beauty shops reopen? Clearly they can take precautions for the safety of employees and their customers. Business owners and employees in this industry generally lack the financial cushion to remain closed indefinitely.

The owner of Sassy Hair Studio in St. Clairsville, Kathy Stewart Soukup, opened her salon two years ago. “I had one additional hairdresser, along with myself and a massage therapist,” said Soukup.

In January of 2019, Soukup said she added an addition, two more stylists and a nail technician. “When the governor shut us down, we had a three-hour notice. We all were booked,” she said.

“I, myself, work 75 hours a week. We are all independent contractors. Three of my girls have children – one is expecting. None of us have received stimulus unemployment,” said Soukup. “I also applied for SBL which I also didn’t receive.

“We did what the state of Ohio told us, ‘Go home! Flatten the curve… Stop the spread!’ This has caused financial hardship to all of us. I spent my savings to do my addition – my landlord still needs his rent. It’s been extremely hard. I just hope I can sustain my salon!”

Similarly, small mom and pop shops, typically have less foot traffic than large scale retail chain stores making social distancing more difficult for the soon to open Malls and big box stores. Both have significant financial risk, with large retailers seeing 99.3% decrease in foot traffic as most department stores have shuttered. So why exclude the smaller retail establishment?

One survey of small business finds, nearly 7.5 million small businesses may be at risk of closing permanently over the coming five months, and 3.5 million are at risk of closure in the next two months.

The survey reveals 60 percent of respondents have less than 5 months remaining of likely business survival.

Nicole Ferris, a massage therapist and acupuncturist, has witnessed firsthand how the shutdown has hurt small business owners, their employees and the people they serve. The experience has given her new insight and even caused her to switch political parties.

Ferris owns Healthy Center Massage Therapy and Acupuncture. She’s been in business for 18 years and has been at her current location for eight.

Recently, Ferris decided it was time to turn her business into a corporation and make her five contracted massage therapists and receptionists into employees. Her good intentions backfired when the shutdown went into effect and none of her employees qualified for unemployment.

“I turned them all into employees and gave them full benefits,” said Ferris. “But this all happened in February and they hadn’t worked long enough to get unemployment, so they’ve made absolutely nothing since they were laid off.”

Being the only acupuncturist at the center, Ferris was the only one authorized to continue working under the governor’s directives, since acupuncture falls under a different category than massage therapy. This enabled her to at least keep the doors open and make rent.

The business went from seeing about 20 clients each day to less than three.

Some of Ferris’ acupuncture clients are in pain as they await surgeries that were cancelled when the state shuttered surgical centers. In addition, she said, a friend who found out she had a marker for cancer right before the shutdown recently learned that the cancer has now metastasized.

“She was supposed to go for an assessment appointment, and it got cancelled because it wasn’t essential,” said Ferris. “When they got her in last week when the hospitals opened, they found out that it had already spread.”

Ferris has watched while fellow small business owners battle to stay afloat.

Ferris said her circle of friends has been virtually unaffected by the shutdown. They are unable to relate to what Ferris and other business owners are going through.

“They’re working from home and getting their full benefits and full paycheck and making a lot of comments about how everybody needs to stay home and how all of these directives are correct and the mandates are right. Anytime I would speak up about how people are hurting financially or, you know, some of the small business owners I’ve seen crying recently, they don’t understand.”

The ordeal made Ferris question her political views. Once receiving a county Democrat of the Year award and the former head of a Democratic women’s group, Ferris is now a registered Republican.

Ferris said she is beyond ready for her business to fully reopen and already has safety protocols in place.

The Hill released a survey that finds nearly 9 in 10 Americans surveyed said they are concerned about the economy collapsing during the coronavirus outbreak.

Reopening Ohio is a critical first step to ensuring our state and nation’s viability. ALL Ohio businesses that choose to reopen and can meet specific health and safety criteria should reopen.

If main street Ohio doesn’t open quickly it likely will never recover from the COVID 19 pandemic. Ohioans who took great risk of opening a small business stand to lose everything without ever knowing the factors the Governor and his team used to determine that they should remain closed or any indicators of when they may reopen.

The owner of Designed for Print, located in Barnesville, Ohio said his graphic design business is at risk.

“I have orders that I’ve put my own money and time into producing and they’ve not been picked up and probably never will be now,” said John McMahon, who has been in business for close to seven years.

“Cash flow stopped immediately in March in the days before the governor even announced mandatory closures. Bills for the shop and home are still coming in, regardless. I had a scheduled vacation for the beginning of April that was cancelled and I have already used that money plus money from savings to pay bills.

“I suppose I’m lucky to have had that set back in the first place – some have no savings, nothing to fall back on,” added McMahon.

McMahon said he is aware of other local small business owners that are making some tough decisions.

“The ones I’ve spoken with are being forced to choose between paying bills at home or bills for the business – and you know they’re going to pay home bills first. I hope that they somehow prevail, despite all this.”

Next door to Designed for Print is Bless Your Heart Folk Art, a retail home décor and crafting store. The business is owned by McMahon’s mother, Margie McMahon and has been in business over nine years and is at risk due to a total loss of revenue.

Margie McMahon is concerned that customers won’t come in even after the shutdown is lifted due to fear of the virus.

“All spring and Easter items that were put out will have to be put away and hopefully we can sell it next year,” said Margie McMahon. Meanwhile, building payments, building and inventory insurance and utilities all still coming due.

“I’ve ordered masks and hand sanitizers for myself and my employees to use and will also have them available for public purchase. With the right precautions I hope we will be ok. I worry about it being a very slow start and how long until it would pick up again.”

Margie McMahon added that she has certain customers she liked to give hugs to and is sad that she can no longer do that.

You’ve Heard of “Summer Slide” but What About “COVID Slide”?

Due to COVID 19 nearly 1.7 million Ohio school children are experiencing some form of distance learning at least until next school year.

According to an article in the Columbus Dispatch, learning can become even more difficult for disadvantaged children. The Ohio Education Association, the state’s largest teacher’s union said they supported Governor DeWine’s decision to close school building for the rest of the academic year but pointed out there will be challenges. “We’ll need time to assess the needs of all students — including students with special developmental needs; students with health challenges; and students whose circumstances deprive them of access to technology, adequate nutrition, or other essential supports — and work together to support them in the best way possible,” OEA President Scott DiMauro said.

Ohio Statehouse News asked Representative Don Jones, (R-Freeport) Chairman of the Primary and Secondary Education Committee about education challenges due to COVID 19, “Learning has not been ideal for a lot of kids due to lack of internet connectivity and time being away from school. The House will be getting back to work next week and these are the conversation that we are going to have.”

During a traditional school year educators and parents worry about summer slide. A blog posted by Nationwide Children’s Hospital states, “On average, kids lose a month or more of learning during the summer. The effect is cumulative, and worse for low-income families. By the time ninth grade rolls around, kids from low-income families can be two years behind and this can impact whether they earn a high school diploma or go to college.”

With students being removed from their traditional education environment in mid-March what will be the impact of COVID 19 slide?

An article in Education Week titled, Academically Speaking, the ‘COVID Slide’ Could Be a Lot Worse Than You Think  provides insight.

A Study from Northwest Evaluation Association found:

Research on summer learning loss has found students can lose somewhere from two weeks to two months of academic growth over the summer. But NWEA’s projections suggest learning loss related to these closures would be anything but typical: If students return to school campuses in the fall without continuity of instruction during the closures, they could have retained only about 70 percent of their reading progress, compared to a normal year.

And math looks worse: Depending on the grade, students were projected to lose anywhere from half to all of their academic growth from the last year, compared to normal student growth.

“I think for some kids, this is going to be really traumatic. So, when we start to think about homelessness and food insecurity and all these other traumas, the variation in that slope is going to be, I think, potentially a more dramatic downfall.” said Tarasawa, the executive vice president for research at NWEA. “This isn’t meant to be doomsday; it’s meant to get people to think about the reality of what teachers are going to be facing at restart” of instruction.”

No doubt Ohio’s education system will need to address significant learning challenges when school restarts in the fall.

Representative Jones applauds the excellent work of educators. “Our schools have stepped up and done what was needed to ensure students continued to have access to healthy meals and education services. Most districts and schools have plans in place.” Jones concludes, “Programming will be important next year and a lot of it will depend on the direction the legislature receives from the Governor and his staff with regards to social distancing or distance learning. The legislature will work to ensure programming is available for all students.”

Baldridge Sees Need to Expand Broadband Access

State Representative Brian Baldridge (R-Winchester)

By Del Duduit

Ohio State Representative Brian Baldridge has a unique perspective on the COVID-19 pandemic that has shut down most of the nation, including his state.

Baldridge, a Republican from Adams County, is not only a legislator in his first term, but he is also a firefighter and paramedic. He was a four-term county commissioner and was in office during the national economic downturn in 2008. His experience, he believes, will guide him to help his constituents get through this current situation.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine was one of the first in the nation to shut down his state and is being credited with getting ahead of the virus that has spread all over the world.

But as a result, many people have had to close their businesses, and the numbers of people filing for unemployment have skyrocketed.

“This is certainly new territory,” he said on Good Friday. “But we did see how the economic recession in ‘08 affected our communities. For some, it was devastating. When we get past this, we know how to work with local governments to help them and better assist our citizens.”

Baldridge represents the 90th District, which includes all of Adams and Scioto and a portion of Lawrence County. He was appointed by the Ohio Speaker of the House to serve on the Economic Recovery Task Force and will examine ways to help Buckeyes get back on their feet as soon as possible.

“We will discuss the economy with business owners and leaders and find a new direction to help bring everyone together and help each other,” he said. “This is our opportunity to move forward to help local communities and businesses lift themselves out of this financial problem.”

From a first responder standpoint, Baldridge said he is more aware than ever about making sure he takes precautions to protect himself and his family and friends.

“This is a very serious time in our nation, state and community,” he added. “This pandemic has changed me and how I do business. I am more safety cautious, and I make sure that I don’t wear the same clothes I had on at the fire department at home. When I make my transition toward home, I disinfect and make sure I don’t bring anything potentially dangerous to anyone.”

Schools in the area remain closed, and students are either learning online or from their parents. One area Baldridge said he will focus on as soon as possible is to put an emphasis to make broadband available to all Ohioans.

“A lot of my district is rural, and there are some people who don’t have access to broadband,” he said. “A big portion of my district has people who are off the grid and cannot work at the same speed because of this, and it’s not a good situation. We don’t want anyone to fall behind because they don’t have broadband, especially students and people who are encouraged to work from home.”

School districts are doing all they can to ensure students have what they need to complete assigned work, he added, but they are limited if there is no broadband access.

“Many districts are providing hard copies to students, and that’s great because they are doing their best,” he said. “But every student needs broadband access, and we are going to look at this issue right away.”

He added the current situation is a trying time in Ohio and the nation, but it’s also a good opportunity to connect with people who are close to each other.

“We are going to get through this,” he said. “And we will be wiser and stronger. But I am a firm believer in my faith, and this is a time to rely on friends and family and grow closer and stronger. That’s one big thing I see coming out of all this.”

Del Duduit is a guest writer for Ohio Statehouse News

Del Duduit is an award-winning writer and author who lives in Lucasville, Ohio with his wife, Angie. They attend Rubyville Community Church. Follow his blog at delduduit.com/blog and his Twitter @delduduit. He is represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency.

People of Faith Deserve Better from the NYT

An op-ed piece in the New York Times recently did not blame the Chinese government for the COVID-19 pandemic that has brought the world to a standstill.

The post did not blame Republicans, Democrats or Independents. Of course not.

Katherine Stewart instead tossed the responsibility and blame on people of faith.

After all, the religious right is anti-science, as she claimed, and they support President Donald Trump, who the “newspaper of record” clashes with at press conferences on a regular basis.

Stewart’s opinion article was published on March 27, 2020. It is titled “The Religious Right’s Hostility to Science is Crippling Our Coronavirus Response,” and Stewart makes her opinion clear that people of faith are the reason we are all might die.

She blathers that Trump came into power with the determined assistance that denies science and bashes government. She opines that loyalty is stronger than expertise.

If Trump had not chosen to align himself with anti-science Bible-thumpers, then we would not be in this mess, she suggests.

This is straight out of the leftist playbook. Blame the deplorables and the gun-toting Bible thumpers.

When all else fails and you are void of an intelligent argument, toss the blame and call names.

The editorial writer then made an appearance on MSNBC to further point the finger at Christians.

This is a prime example why many Americans do not trust the mainstream media. Journalism used to be a proud profession–one that held esteem and honor.

A Gallup poll recently released a piece, and the title said it all: “Most Americans say they have lost trust in the media.” A CBS poll in March said that President Trump is trusted more than the media.

Stewart’s unwarranted attack on people of faith is just another reason why Americans do not trust the outlets and the people who are supposed to be fair and neutral.

I would have expected the blame to be directed at Communist China for the release of the virus. After all, that is where it came from.

Instead, journalists and left-leaning members of Congress chastise the President as being a racist for calling the disease the “Chinese Coronavirus.”

I see nothing wrong with that characterization. I go to “Chinese” restaurants and “Italian” restaurants to dine. I speak the “English” language, and one of my pets was a “German” Shepherd. These assumptions of racism are ridiculous.

Stewart is fine with offending American people who are Christians but will not dare put the responsibility of this pandemic where it belongs out of fear of being labeled a racist or frustrating a country that has a documented history of population control – China.

Instead, she attacks Christians.

I remember when journalists were brave and sought to tell the truth no matter the consequence.

Stewart is neither. She puts a target on those she assumes have been taught to “turn the other cheek.”

Christians are not anti-science. I have many friends who are doctors, and I have put my trust in them. Just because I am a person of faith does not mean I don’t appreciate doctors and hospitals.

If I am sick or need attention from a healthcare provider, I go. I never ask about their religious background because that’s not really important to me when I am in an emergency room.

The fact that I rely on the “ultimate healer” is not a slap in their face. If an atheist is put in the position to save my loved one and has the skills needed to save lives, then I am ready to receive his help.

But Stewart’s attack on people of faith is deeper than what she claims. She must possess a deep hatred for Christians in order to blame them for this pandemic. Many in the media mock Vice President Pence for his Christian beliefs. But he handles it with class.

I believe there is more to this pandemic. Many high-profile people warned two years that this could happen.

Tragic events usually bring the country together, and citizens are more lenient and loving toward each other.

But in this case, this writer expressed disdain and blame for a certain population which only works to divide the country even more.

President Trump has been working hard to fight this pandemic and to encourage private and public entities to partner together to fight this enemy. Inconvenience is a way of life for now. He is criticized by the media for holding too many press briefings. If he didn’t make daily appearances, they would bang on him for that. The mainstream media cannot be satisfied or trusted.

But to scapegoat Christians because of this pandemic is a low blow, even for the New York Times.

Del Duduit is an award-winning writer and author who lives in Lucasville, Ohio with his wife, Angie. They attend Rubyville Community Church. Follow his blog at delduduit.com/blog/ and his Twitter @delduduit. He is represented by Cyle Young of Hartli

Use Time at Home to Recharge, says Senator Johnson

Ohio Senator Terry Johnson

By Del Duduit

Terry Johnson is a medical doctor, a veteran of combat, and a lawmaker in Ohio.

He is a Colonel (ret) Senior Flight Surgeon in the Ohio Army National Guard. Johnson served two tours of duty in Iraq and one in Kuwait, and he seen the ravages of war up close.

The McDermott, Ohio native has served on medical and humanitarian missions in Panama and Ecuador, and on military and diplomatic missions in Serbia.

Johnson, an Ohio native, was a senior flight surgeon in the Ohio Army National Guard.

He is Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine of nearly 30 years and now serves the people of the 14th district in the Ohio Senate. He has witnessed many historic events throughout his years of service, but even he admits he has never seen anything like the coronavirus pandemic.

The Covid 19 virus is a pandemic taking lives all over the world and shutting down economies.

“These are extraordinary days,” he said. “This is something people may never see again for the next 100 years.”

Quick action by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and his team might have saved many lives when this ordeal is over and after statistics roll in to be counted.
DeWine was one of the first governors to close restaurants and other businesses across his state to slow the spread of the virus, and he urged social distancing. His decisions are now being applauded, while some were skeptical at first.

“I despise armchair quarterbacks who criticize decisions people make, especially our leaders,” Johnson said. “The governor is setting the tone for Ohio, and he has a good heart and a genuine concern for people.”

The decisions were part of a strategy geared toward keeping the virus from spreading until there is a vaccine, or when it tampers down.

Unlike the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus in 2003 and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus in 2014, this Covid 19 acts different.

“This got out of hand in China and spread fast,” Johnson said. “And now it has spread all over the world and came into the United States, and into Ohio.”

The Coronavirus is highly mobile, according to Johnson, and cannot travel unless the host is also mobile.

“It goes nowhere if we go nowhere,” he added. “That is why leaders encourage us to stay put for a while in our homes. Isolation is good from a healthcare standpoint, but there is a huge price to pay economically, but that is secondary when it comes to our health. This is unlike anything I’ve seen before.”

As a past state representative and now senator, Johnson is aware of the financial toll shutting down government might have on the residents of Ohio.

“It’s a risk/benefit thing we have here,” he said. “We have to keep people alive first – that is the main goal. But Ohio does not print money, and we have to watch the budget closely because you cannot stop this economy and expect us to continue.”

The next several days will be key, Johnson said, and he receives daily updates and pays attention to what DeWine and President Trump have to say.

“We could come out of this quickly,” he said. “We don’t know if this virus will continue as we approach summer when most influenza tampers down. There is a lot of uncertainty right now. But Americans are resilient, and I believe this economy is spring-loaded to roar back.”

Johnson noted that while Ohioans and Americans are home, now is a wonderful opportunity to examine oneself because time is available.

“What a great time to sit with your family and talk to them or sit with your pet that misses you all day when you go to work,” he said. “It’s a great time to recharge spiritually and read the Bible like I do as a Christian.”

He added that the primary defense the human body has against diseases is its own immune system.

“What a great time to start thinking about not smoking because smokers are at a greater risk of most diseases,” he said. “What a great time to shift from carbonated beverages to good clean water. And what a great time to eat better and think about planting a garden.”

He added that people can take advantage of time at home to get out in the yard and exercise or try to slip away from pharmaceuticals that assist with sleeping.

“This is the perfect time to examine yourself and think about getting well spiritually, respect yourself, forgive yourself and others, and the perfect time to reach out and help a neighbor,” he said.

Johnson also urged people to call the local board of elections. request an absentee ballot, and vote before April 28. The Ohio primary was shut down because of the pandemic, but residents who are registered can still vote.
There will be no in-person voting this primary, so the only way to vote will be via absentee.

“This is our greatest right and privilege we have as Americans, and we need to take advantage of this opportunity to vote,” he added. “Ohio and America will come through this battle, and we will be stronger than ever.”

Author Del Duduit

Del Duduit is an award-winning writer and author who lives in Lucasville, Ohio with his wife, Angie. They attend Rubyville Community Church. Follow his blog at delduduit.com/blog and his Twitter @delduduit. He is represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency.

Opinion: The Good Outweighs the Bad

By Del Duduit

Anyone who follows me knows that 95 percent of my posts are inspirational and encouraging.

On occasion, I let my opinions be known about how I feel about current events. Most see my point of view and a few others don’t, and that’s okay.

But today, I want to focus on what’s going on in the world that’s positive.

In the midst of the pandemic that has affected all of us, stories of hope always emerge.

We hear many accounts of scared people hoarding toilet paper, and there is panic every time a truck pulls into Walmart with a delivery. But I like to hear about the good in people.

There are some supermarkets and department stores that have stepped up and reserved slots in the morning for elderly people to come in buy what they need.


Some banks are taking similar steps to make sure those who are at most risk are able to attend to their daily needs.

That’s teamwork.

The images of young people partying with no regard for anyone’s safety bothered me, and I hope it disturbs all who observed these selfish acts.

But when I heard about a McDonald’s franchise in Florida giving free combo meals to hospital workers, it restored my faith in people.

Any employee who shows a hospital badge will be fed for free.

That’s much like what happened during 9/11 when many businesses helped out our first responders.

A portion of a press release from the Florida McDonalds stated it wanted to “honor and give special thanks to all the men and women who dedicate their lives to work in the medical professions to serve those affected by this global pandemic.”

I have gained a new respect for those who work in the healthcare industry and who are now on the front lines.

When you think of the front line in wartime, I envision a battlefield, or in recent years, New York City or even New Orleans.

But I never considered emergency rooms as the front line in a fight. I do now. The “invisible enemy,” as President Trump calls it, will be defeated in a hospital.

There is hope.

I have read reports from chains like Applebee’s, Burger King, and others that are doing acts of kindness. Keep in mind, some of these owners might be risking their financial future to ensure that those putting their lives on the line are fed.


In a little town in Maryland, I was encouraged to read about a person who did the right thing.

A woman’s debit card was denied, and she had a buggy full of groceries. A woman named Dana was behind the lady, and instead of turning her head and ignoring the embarrassing situation, she chose to let her know that she would cover the expenses the lady needed in this time of crisis.

That’s awesome. Good people still exist.

In Baltimore, the organization Weekend Backpacks for Homeless Kids stepped up to the plate and made sure children and their families are still supplied with bags of food while schools are closed.

In Scioto County, Ohio, Steven’s Power Packs (backpacks full of food) are doing the same thing. Times are tough, but this brings out the best in some.

That’s tremendous.

In a time of crisis, the good deeds always outweigh the looting and negative news you read about and see.

But rest assured, there are good people doing the right thing.

I believe the United States will survive this crisis. I have the utmost confidence in our leaders and will respect those in authority as they work tirelessly to lead us to safety. And we should be ready to assist a neighbor in need. A helping hand outweighs selfishness.

The good that will come out of this might not be seen for weeks, but it will make each person stronger every day.

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due when it is in your power to do so. (Proverbs 3: 27)

Keep the faith and do good.

Del Duduit is an award-winning writer and author who lives in Lucasville, Ohio with his wife, Angie. They attend Rubyville Community Church. Follow his blog at delduduit.com/blog and his Twitter @delduduit. He is represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency.

Are Democrats Sitting Out the 2020 Election Cycle?

Democrats Seek Win in Only Two House Seats


Inside Statehouse Politics




By Bethany Stewart


Republican Representative J. Todd Smith (R- Farmersville) recently indicated he will not seek re-election for his Ohio House seat. This ends a Republican primary battle between Smith and Preble County Commissioner Rodney Creech. Creech will face Democrat Amy Cox in November.

The district has been Republican controlled since 2014 but is considered in play by the House Democrats who remarkably shared with Cleveland.com that they are focused on winning only two Ohio House seats this November.

“House Democrats this year are aiming for the more modest goal of picking up the two additional seats needed to erase the House GOP’s 60-seat supermajority, which allows Republicans to override gubernatorial vetoes and put measures on the statewide ballot without Democratic votes,” Jeremy Pelzer, Cleveland.com.

Is the lack of effort from the House Democrats a sign of overall failed party leadership? The last time Democrats controlled the Ohio House was in 2009 when Armond Budish was Speaker for two years. His tenure ended at the same time former Democrat Governor Ted Strickland lost after only one term.  

Since that time the Democrat party has failed to obtain any significant wins with the exception of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown.

We asked political operative and former Chief Operating Officer for the Ohio Senate, Neil Clark, if the Democrat party is all but throwing in the towel in Ohio by setting such a low bar to win back seats in the House?

Clark explained that he doesn’t think so, and he actually thinks the Democrats had a resurgence through using Instant Voter Registration and the issue of redistricting to make Ohio more competitive.

He went on to explain that Republicans have been successful in the past without creating ballot initiatives or wanting to redraw district lines because their primary focus is on policy issues and how they can message those to the public. He believes that by remaining focused on those strategies, Republicans will keep their power.