To celebrate 10 years of local journalism, Richland Source is revisiting some of its previous coverage and updating the community on the stories we’ve told. In this article, we look back at our Talk the Vote series, and the Citizens Agenda it prompted for local leaders.
p.s. Join us this Saturday for SourceFest, a free block party we’re throwing in celebration of a decade in local news. Click here to RSVP.
MANSFIELD — The year was 2021. The world was finally emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. had recently withdrawn from Afghanistan. Fall was on its way or had already arrived.
This was the backdrop for Source Media Properties’ “Talk the Vote” events held from September to November in Ashland, Richland, and Knox counties in 2021. At these events, voters had the chance to tell local candidates what they think they should be doing for their communities. The candidates were asked to listen.
We compiled the voters’ responses and ideas into a “Citizens Agenda” for Richland Source, Ashland Source, and Knox Pages. These agendas were then presented to local city councils and school boards to remind them of what voters expect from them.
Throughout 2022 and 2023, reporters on all three sites wrote stories on each of the issues in the Citizens Agenda.
As Richland Source’s 10-year anniversary approaches, we decided to look back on Talk the Vote and the stories that came from it.
Here they are, starting with Source Media’s oldest news outlet, Richland Source.
City Editor Carl Hunnell kicked off the site’s coverage with this story about a pilot project first used in Bloomington, Indiana to address homelessness.
In this story, Hunnell looked to communities in Ohio, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Missouri and New York to figure out how other communities are using grant funds for bike trails that Mansfield planned to use on its own bike trails.
Reporter Katie Ellington Serrao studied ways the city of Mansfield and its school system could work together in this story.
As the city of Mansfield prepared to combine its community development and code enforcement departments, Hunnell sat down with Adrian Ackerman, then the director of Housing and Community development in the city, to talk about what she learned from other cities like Kettering, Ohio.
In the first of her two-part series on young business owners in Richland County, reporter Grace McCormick looked into voters’ concerns that young business owners are leaving Richland County.
In the second part of her series, McCormick looked into what incentives, organizations and opportunities exist to help young business owners in Richland County.
In this story, Report for America Corps Member Nathan Hart (who also wrote the article you’re reading right now) looked into what local schools are doing to prepare students for the ‘real world.’
Lead reporter Dillon Carr looked into how Ashland can preserve its old buildings in a time when new developments are a common sight in the area.
Hart wrote about what the Ashland City Schools board of education could do to become more engaged and communicative with the community.
In this story, Carr looked into the age-old question of how to get young people more involved in their local institutions.
After the pandemic and the ensuing disruptions to the education system, voters wanted to know if Ashland City Schools was attracting enough substitutes. Hart found out for them.
Voters also wanted to know if Ashland City Schools had enough drivers and substitute drivers to get children to and from school, sparking this second story on the district’s staffing.
Hart investigated those pesky or beloved weighted grades, depending on your opinion.
Carr looked into whether Ashland’s 83-year-old wastewater plant was equipped to process the waste of a growing city.
Report for America Corps Member Grant Ritchey looked into what lessons a homelessness program from Indianapolis could offer to Mount Vernon.
Lead reporter Grant Pepper explored how a “master leasing” strategy could help Mount Vernon’s homeless populations access housing.
Staying on the topic of homelessness, Ritchey explored how a “100-Day” solution could bring Knox County’s institutions together to address homelessness.
Correspondent Cheryl Splain looked into how creative or unconventional approaches to child care, like a non-profit dedicated to the service, could work in Knox County.
Pepper recounted how a manufacturer in Tuscarawas County upped its workforce by offering parents part-time shifts during school hours.
Still on the subject of child care, Pepper investigated how the Fredericktown Local School District’s latchkey program — which provides child care before and after school — could apply to other districts in the county.
In his follow-up to the previous story on Fredericktown’s latchkey program, Pepper detailed how parents, students, and district staff all had to be on-board for a latchkey program to work.
In this story, Ritchey explored the methods — like multiple community liaison, for example — the Fredericktown Local Schools board of education uses to keep in touch with the community.
In this first story of a three part series on live-streamed public meetings, Pepper recounted how voters want Fredericktown Local Schools to start streaming board meetings.
To figure out how Fredericktown Local Schools could start live-streaming, Pepper looked to the nearby community of Gambier and how it got its stream up and running during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pepper didn’t stop at Gambier; he also wrote about the city of Mount Vernon’s recent shift from an outdated livestreaming platform to YouTube.