CIRCLEVILLE — Ohio U.S. Representative to Congress Steve Stivers (R-15) visited Circleville Friday. During a tour of downtown, he heard from local leaders on what Congress can do to help the opioid epidemic and learned how local small businesses are doing.

The impact of the cancelled Circleville Pumpkin Show was a popular topic. “They were telling me that week keeps almost every downtown business afloat for a year,” he said. “400,000 people is a lot of people to visit for downtown Circleville. It’s important to this town, the civic organizations, private organizations and the fiber of the town. It’s so important.”

Stivers said he thought the small business grant program Circleville organized, in which small businesses could receive up to $5,000 in relief from the CARES Act funding, was a good thing.

“That’s a great public partnership and it’s a big deal,” he said. “It’s great that they chose to use their CARES Act funding to help local businesses and it shows their commitment to the community. I’m happy to have voted for it and every business I talked to downtown today took out a [paycheck protection program] loan. That program was part of the CARES Act, too. The CARES Act was expensive but it was the right thing to do to help us through this.”

Looking ahead, Stivers said he’s working with the CDC to create a more national framework for COVID-19 guidelines.

“We don’t want one standard in Ohio, another in Michigan, and another in other states and create a system where there are interim levels before shutting down the economy,” he said “There should be several levels before you shut down the economy. The fact that [Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine] has talked about shutting down the economy is frustrating to me because we, right now, are doing OK. I think at the federal levels we owe governors a federal framework and that’s what we need to do.”

Stivers said he feels a federal framework wouldn’t limit governors.

“It doesn’t mean they can’t do things over and above but, they deserve that framework that’s science based from the CDC and includes things like a snow emergency,” he said.

Stivers, giving an example, said every small business he visited Friday stayed closed during the previous shut down but Walmart stayed open.

“The big got to get bigger and the small got killed,” he said. “That can’t be the answer. You’ve got to be safer in the smaller stores with fewer people.”

Stivers said the addiction roundtable was a great conversation, one he hopes to turn into a “meaningful piece of legislation.” The roundtable was attended by local law enforcement, mental health, recovery and treatment organizations.

“It was a really good look at the issues from every angle, health care, crime, prevention and more,” Stivers said. “We took a look at how we can bring more resources to the community. I appreciated everyone’s input.”

Stivers said typically they do one large event but with the pandemic, they’re doing smaller events in the communities.

“Every year I have at least one issue that comes out of these meetings that we pursue legislation on,” he said. “We’ve passed a bunch of those. We’ll sort through the comments and see what it might be. There were a lot of conversations about the D.A.R.E. program and there were some conversations about Medicare and how hard they are to deal with. It denies some people access and that’s a problem. We also talked about getting some resources for different parts of the problem. We had a big conversation around sober housing because when they get out of treatment they go back to the same people and places and they’re right back into it.”

“There were really good conversations and good ideas and hopefully some of that will be able to be turned into good legislation,” he said.

email scollins@circlevilleherald.com follow on twitter @Collins_Herald

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