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Friday, April 9, 2010

Portsmouth Portrait

The online site ( was said to be visited by 15 million unique visitors in March 2010. In addition, it is featured in 121 books, on CNN, on WABC in New York, on Bay News 9 in Tampa Bay, and in USA Today's Hot Sites. The site has collected and analyzed data from many sources to create the most "complete and interesting profiles of all U.S. cities as we could. City-Data says, "If you ever need to research any city, zip code, or neighborhood for any reason, from considering a move there to just checking where somebody you know is staying, this is the site for you."

I try to avoid featuring negativity on my blog. Most of the time, negative content represents wasted energy that serves only to create bad feelings and to cause mindless confrontation. However, in this post, I want to make evident the vast number of people who associate the Portsmouth area with the image of a hideous home.

Here are reader impressions, all from forum that add to this thesis. Most of these have been edited from longer descriptions, some of which do mix positive comments with these negative remarks. Yet, most of the recommendations are overwhelmingly unaffirmative. Overall, I am ashamed of the portrayal of Scioto County. Still, I think these comments will give a reader insight about the sad state of our collective vision of a once-proud place. This perception, unfortunately, represents me, also. To each resident goes responsibility.

Comments In the Recommendations
  •  I'm getting my family out of here again and moving back to Minnesota. Now that's a place to live.....!! 
  • Why aren't the citizens taking issues on their city's problems. It is not that big of a town to let it get out of control like these folks are saying. What's Up With That?
  •  The best we are stuck with is a Walmart. The city itself looks extremely run down, really about the only pretty thing to look at is our new schools and the foliage…The people here are all on welfare as is evident from common sense and the fact that the majority of the businesses are food oriented. Horrible place to live. 
  • It is the worst county in Ohio for drugs. And the crime is just as bad. My sister in-law had her car broken into 3 times in the matter of 4 months and it was never the same person.
  • Everyday I am depressed. Maybe that is why there are so many addicts here..they just want to supress their feelings of boredom, poverty and dirty city (especially New Boston). 
  •  I don't think I would want to raise kids there. Drugs are a problem.
  • I have lived here my whole life and I agree, it is SLUM-VILLE! our crime rating is worse than Columbus and drugs, I would say half of Portsmouth is on welfare. I was one time sitting in the ER and over heard some people say that they all ready had some of those drugs and that they weren't really sick and they just wanted drugs! Most of the doctors here are quacks!
  • There's no reason to be throwing trash everywhere, couches on your front porch, old fridge in your yard, etc.
  • My wife cried with happiness the day I told her we were moving.
  • Everybody only really has bad things to say about this town, and I could understand why. But there are some really good people here and I'm sure you'd like it, as long as you don't plan on spending the rest of your life here.
  • Portsmouth Ohio SUCKS trust me! Now if you are involved in drugs, prostitutes, corruption, welfare, and some "different" kinds people then this is the place for you.
  • The college is growing and doing well. The town is not.
  • I live here and agree with you all that Portsmouth is no place to live or raise a family.
  • I didn't think it was too too bad about 5-10 years ago, now though....its a corrupt, crime ridden hellhole. My house has been broken into twice in as many years and just a month ago someone that appeared to be a crackhead stole my wallet.
  • Don't move to Portsmouth, Ohio??? I thought this was common knowledge
  • As we drive through we notice it's a sadder, sadder place every year.
  •  Any factories have shut down. Jobs are few and far between. Without a good tax base, there's no money for community improvements.
  • There used to be a coke plant there. Not sure what that is (steel?). They got in trouble with the EPA. That must have been where the bad smell used to come from. The plant went bankrupt, and is sitting there rusting.
  • I'm sure there's a lot of crack-houses judging by all the boarded up houses I see.
  • I agree with all the unemployment. I have people looking at my husband and I like we are stupid because we both have jobs.
  • I've lived in Portsmouth for close to my entire life and I would NOT recommend that anyone move here.
  • I moved out of Portsmouth w/my Father in 1996. The rest of my family is still in Portsmouth and even though I miss them dearly, I THANK him all the time for showing me that there are more things out there than what this small town has to offer! Every time I come back to visit I notice that everyone still looks and thinks the same way they always have.
  • My husband left there 15 yrs. ago (still has family there)....Would be a good retirement area, nothing else.
  • Portsmouth is not a good area at all...I've lived here all my life and I wouldn't recommend anyone move here..Especially if you have kids in high school that play sports.The kids who play are picked specifically on their last name not ability.The drug abuse in Portsmouth is rampant.
  • Everybody knows everybody and everybody don't like everybody. Prostitutes run a muck. Drugs are rampant. Crimes decently average. But, avoid shopping or going downtown on the 1st of the month. This county has to have the HIGHEST WELFARE RATE in the state of Ohio. The people down here are LAZY. Nobody wants to work and they expect everything be given to them. I would not recommend moving down here.
  • I used to work at that hospital and WHEW!  I am so glad I left that poorly run hospital and the town it was in. My only regret was that I didn't leave sooner.
  • The man made "ugliness" of the area is striking. The city government is handicapped by a small but vocal and extremist portion of the citizenry that tries to block every effort at progress that comes along, just for the sake of having their own way. It will take an economic lightning strike and a bold, courageous, and visionary leader to remove Portsmouth from the mucky sink hole in which she has been stuck for decades. In the meantime, it's a nice place to live if you're one of the haves. Don't move there without a good job in hand.
Well, as anyone can see, besides needing some English usage lessons, the respondents are not a bit satisfied with the state of our area. Is it any wonder that the same terrible image of Portsmouth permeates the minds of the youth who live here? This condemnation of home is ALL they hear -- basically they believe the depressed area is doomed to a future of corruption, decay, and eventual collapse because they have become conditioned to find failure. We have done that conditioning together, all of us. No one is above blame.

It is my belief that any positive future change must first involve the area youth, the future lifeblood of our communities. They must set new visions of optimism with an awareness that includes their critical struggle in the change. They must realize their own potential for creating exciting opportunities while learning, living, playing, and working in Scioto County. The old guard is stale and suffers from a poor public image, not necessarily due to their poor performance, but due to their untimely involvement. Some are even unfit to mentor with proper intention and grace.

To this end, I believe education is foremost to accomplishing any goal here. In fact, the better label is "re-education." Amid assets such as flood wall murals, wooded forests, and affordable housing, young people still believe they do not count in this area; they merely occupy space for 18 to 21 years until their acquisition of knowledge and of age lifts them to greener pastures. When is the last time you have heard the word thrive used to describe the old head?

My soul yearns to instill a sense of urgent cooperative activism in young Scioto residents. As a baby boomer, I felt that sense of belonging when I young. I'm not advocating walkouts and boycotts (although we did) as much as I am advocating giving the young their birthright of voice and meaningful activity. 

To see young adults BELIEVE in something and ACTIVELY CHANGE something by working together is a beautiful vision, a vision much better than one filled with dilapidated real estate, crime-ridden streets, and ghosts of once-successful industries. I have witnessed such transformations in programs such as the Ohio Youth Conservation Corp and the now-defunct (I guess) West End Ministries. Here, in young hands, lies the best opportunity to thrive.

There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age. Sophia Loren

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