Hello Blog Readers,

Welcome to Part 2 of the Midwest blog!  The first leg of the trip I was looking at Chicago, now we’re moving on to the second part, rural NW Ohio!  I must admit, I cannot make any similar comparisons between the nightlife in Chicago and the nightlife of Van Wert, OH, where I spent the other part of my time in the Midwest.

First off, a little history about Van Wert:  Van Wert is a small community about 35 miles east of Ft. Wayne Indiana.  The local economy is built around the auto manufacturing, farming, and insurance industries; which, except for the insurance industry—have been tanking the last few decades.  Van Wert is not known to be home to progressive stewards of the environment, that being said, they have experienced a local jobs boom from an unexpected place:  Green energy!

Wind turbines have been popping up all around rural Van WertThe amount of labor required for the project, along with the amount of money being injected into the local economy has created a mini-boom in spite of the climate change deniers and global warming skeptics in the area.  The construction of wind turbines is creating many construction jobs.  
 The company responsible for the $700 million dollar alternative energy investment is none other than our friends over at Iberdrola Renewables,  a company ecoShuttle has worked with over the past few years.  Hopefully this influx of renewable energy and investment will change the minds of folks in rural Ohio and encourage them to help put a stop to strip-mining
and fracking .  


On a sad note, however, there has been a total lack of regulation in NW Ohio that has resulted in the utter decay of Lake St. Mary’s, the lake my family grew up swimming and water skiing in.  What was once a bustling lake with boats and happy swimmers everywhere is now a cesspool of algae with a rapidly declining fish population.  The Lake was originally a reservoir for the Miami-Erie Canal, but when the canal had lost its usefulness, the lake was repurposed for recreation—and it was a blast!  That is until unregulated chemical run-off from farms, and unregulated waste from hog farms infiltrated the lake from underground.  It is now a health-hazard to be anywhere near the lake.  For folks who grew up playing in or near the lake, and for folks whose incomes were based on the lake, this has been an unmitigated disaster.  Hopefully people will take another look at EPA regulations and the difference it can make in our lives. -Mark

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