Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine reads with local children at the Meigs County District Library in Pomeroy. Photo by Carrie Rose.

Ohio First Lady DeWine Visits Meigs Library for Book Program Kick Off

POMEROY, Ohio – Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine was in Pomeroy on February 3, 2020 to officially launch Imagination Library in Meigs County.

DeWine commented on the value of reading to and with children. She said studies have shown the importance of books to children and the development of the brain “80 percent of a child’s brain is developed by the time the child is three years old,” she noted.

Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine meets several employees from the Meigs County Health Department along with Administrator Courtney Midkiff. Photo by Carrie Rose.

The books are free through a cooperative effort with the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. Children can be enrolled in the program from birth to five years old. Each month a book will come in the mail addressed to the child. “It is fantastic to be here in Meigs County, the latest county to join the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library, today. Every week, I am traveling the state to announce the launch of a new Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library program,” First Lady DeWine said. Earlier in the day she was at Gallipolis to announce the Gallia County’s program.

Meigs County Commissioners Jimmy Will and Randy Smith present Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine with a check for funding the book program locally. Photo by Carrie Rose.

The Ohio First Lady was surprised with a check from the Meigs County Commissioners. During their regularly scheduled meeting on January 30, Meigs County Commissioner Randy Smith said there were planning to present DeWine with a check through funds from properties the county leases and timber money for the program in Meigs County. The check was for $10,000. DeWine noted during the public event at the library that the donation would supply roughly 10,000 books as there is a matching program for funding as well. Currently, 315 Meigs County children are signed up for Imagination Library. That number represents about 23 percent of the youth population eligible to sign up for the program.

“This is an opportunity to invest in our future, our children. We should be spending money on our own children,” Meigs County Commissioner Jimmy Will said of the donation from the county to the program. The funding will directly go to support Imagination Library in Meigs County. He said that this is a great opportunity for the entire county.

From left, Meigs County Commissioner Jimmy Will, Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine, and Meigs County Commissioner Randy Smith during a presentation for funding for the book program. Photo by Carrie Rose.

“Easterseals Central and Southeast Ohio is very pleased to be a community sponsor of First Lady DeWine’s Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library,” said Pandora Shaw-Dupras. Easterseals will be overseeing the program for Meigs County. She said Easterseals values to the educational development of children and asked everyone to “go find more kids” to enroll. Presently a 1,380 children in Meigs County are eligible to be signed up.

Following the official announcement, First Lady DeWine read The Hungary Caterpillar to children at the library.

Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine reads with local children. Photo by Carrie Rose.

If a child is signed up from birth, that child could receive a total of 60 books. The first book is The Little Engine That Could and the last book is about going to Kindergarten. There are no income guidelines to enroll in the program. For more information go to http://Ohioimaginationlibrary.org or go to your local library.

Ohio First Lady DeWine noted the program would not be possible without the investment from the Ohio General Assembly committing $5 million of the 2020-2021 fiscal budget to Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library program. This funding allows for a dollar-for-dollar match for counties.

Also attending in addition to Smith, Will and Shaw Dupras, were State Representative Jay Edwards, Meigs County Prosecuting Attorney James Stanley, Meigs County Clerk of Courts Sammi Sisson Mugrage, Meigs County Health Department Administrator Courtney Midkiff, library trustees, and Juli Brazzel Stephens regional representative for Congressman Bill Johnson.

Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine reads with local children in Pomeroy. Photo by Carrie Rose.