Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A sign

Huntington had the first modern riverfront park here in this section of the Ohio River. Other cities near here have copied most of its design elements when they built their own parks, but they all added one thing Huntington's Harris Riverfront Park has not had in its thirty years of existence.

There has been no sign letting people on the river know they're passing Huntington. There are signs warning you that you are under police surveillance, and there are signs warning that parking is for park users only. But looking for something that welcomes people to the city or even identifies the city was a fruitless search.

I always figured that Huntington officials thought if you were smart enough to get here, you were smart enough to know where you were.

But there may be another reason, which I will get to later.

What brought this on is the fact that a few months ago, the city opened a skate park at the lower end of Harris Riverfront Park for kids to enjoy their skateboards and such. And someone out up a plywood sign with the word "Huntington" in letters big enough to be seen from the river.

The lettering on this sign is graffiti style. And that may be why Huntington has never invested in a sign at the park or murals on the floodwall or anything like that to spruce the place up. This city is plagued with graffiti vandals, er, graffiti artists, and any effort to add anything nice to the floodwall or elsewhere will likely have an ugly graffiti tag on it before the sun rises the next morning.

It's a shame, but it's the way life is here.

Having said all that, my thanks to whoever erected this sign. It was a thirty-year wait, and it's not as nice as what you see in Portsmouth, Ironton, Ashland, Gallipolis, Point Pleasant and elsewhere, but it's a good start.

Living along the Ohio River is bad for children?

In my wanderings around the Internet looking for stuff about the Ohio River, I found a study performed by a student at the Ohio State University School of Nursing. I couldn't find a date on this study. I may have overlooked it, as the best place to hide something from a member of my family is putting it in plain sight. But the study cites other research published last year, so it must be fairly new.

The name of the study is "Exploring Health Behaviors and Health Outcomes of Third Graders in Appalachia, Ohio: Does School Location Matter?"

I read part of the abstract. This paragraph was what grabbed my attention:

There is also thought to be health differences within Appalachian sub-regions such as “River Bordering” and “Non-River Bordering” counties. Children who live in Ohio’s Appalachian counties that border the Ohio River are disproportionally exposed to adverse environmental conditions existing along the river that may contribute to disparities in health, available access to care and care utilization (Smith and Holloman, 2011). A comparison between the counties showed children residing in river bordering counties had higher rates of obesity (24.4%) and overweight (17%), than children residing in non-river bordering counties (Smith and Holloman, 2011). The majority of the parents reported that their children were in great health, but their BMI profiles indicated otherwise. Holloman and Smith’s findings suggest that the Appalachian counties that border the Ohio River may be particularly vulnerable in the childhood obesity epidemic. A better understanding of the environmental contexts that contribute to the obesity epidemic is needed. Findings further indicate that gender disparities in child health, particularly obesity, exist (Smith and Holloman, 2011).

So, living along the Ohio River correlates with obesity and overweight than living elsewhere. This must be a new thing, as we had few obese kids when I grew up along Route 7 in Gallia County, Ohio.

And that's as far as I plan to take it right now.


Okay, I couldn't help myself. I found the abstract to the 2011 study. Here is part of it:

Childhood asthma was more prevalent in the river-bordering counties (16.4%) compared to the non-river counties (9.4%). Children with asthma had more sere symptoms in the river bordering counties (8.2%) compared to the non-river bordering counties (4.4%). Children residing in river bordering counties had higher rates of obesity (24.4%) and overweight (17%). After controlling for child health and insurance status, children living in the river bordering counties had less access to care (est. -7.14, CI = -17.3,0.74) and more difficulty accessing specialty care. Children residing in the non-river counties had more sickness care utilization (est. 0.25, CI = 0.01, 0.49). Regardless of region, children with a regular health care provider and place for care were healthier. Differences in child health, access to care and utilization of services exist within Ohio's Appalachian region.

 The part about ashtma reminded me of one of my nephews. He's now a grandfather, but when he was a child I think my brother said his sinuses bothered him most when he got close to the Ohio River. Some people in my home area called it the "Ohio River crud".