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Reflecting One Year Later

Monica Robb Blasdel News

As we reflect on the one-year anniversary of the East Palestine train derailment, I wanted to take the opportunity to share some updates as the community continues to heal and move forward. In the time since the accident, it has been encouraging to see so much progress being made in the Village and surrounding areas, knowing there is still a lot of work left to do.

Throughout this ordeal, it has been heartening to witness the outpouring of support from individuals across the state and beyond. Allies have rallied around the community, extending helping hands to ensure our local businesses continue to operate smoothly; guaranteeing that children could continue participating in sports and maintaining a semblance of normalcy; and providing assistance with essential services. The solidarity shown has been refreshing.

At the Statehouse earlier this year, we worked through the State Transportation Budget to implement new rail safety standards aimed at safeguarding the passage of cargo through Ohio. While these represent significant steps that we can take here in our great state, progress at the federal level has unfortunately been stalled. We will continue to encourage our federal partners to pass the Railway Safety Act of 2023.

Also, in the State Operating Budget, we enacted an exemption of state taxes for East Palestine residents from payments as a result of the derailment.

Locally, the Columbiana County Port Authority, in collaboration with JobsOhio and Team NEO, has been instrumental in providing support to local businesses and community leaders. I commend Penny Traina, Haedan Panezott, and the entire team from the Port Authority for partnering with my office to host business roundtables, conduct surveys, and assist the businesses in East Palestine who were directly affected.

Thanks to the efforts of the Ohio Department of Development, $5 million has been made available to small businesses, enabling them to continue operations. Approximately $3.45 million of these funds have already been utilized, demonstrating the tremendous impact the emergency relief has provided.

I want to commend Mayor Conway for his leadership and for being a champion of his community. His tireless advocacy and open line of communication have been invaluable in ensuring that every possible measure is taken to support East Palestine's recovery. I also want to commend Fire Chief Keith Drabick and his team for their dedication and continued recommendations as we continuously work to improve fire service and safety measures.

As we look to the future, I remain optimistic that the best days lie ahead. East Palestine will remain resilient and continue to grow and thrive, emerging stronger from the challenges we have faced. I look forward to continuing to be a part of that growth and supporting the community well into the future.