Friday, October 30, 2009

REPORTER BLOG: The Oz of Athens... Greener than I Thought

by Pat Henderson

Athens, Ohio
The small college town in the middle of Athens County has more greenery per square foot than almost any place I know. In fact, I’ve even heard it referred to as the Oz of Athens County, but for this reporter – it just got greener.

As I was covering the Appalachian Regional Commission conference at Ohio University, I got the chance to follow Governor Strickland and State Representative Debbie Phillips around town. The places they went were gems that I never would have encountered had it not been for this event.

Green Energy Abound
Unbeknownst to me, Athens County – and specifically the city of Athens – is a leader in the development of green energy. Ohio University, along with several local companies, is a leader in the development of green technology. There are three big producers right in Athens City: Global Cooling, Third Sun Solar and Wind Power, and Sun Power.

Global Cooling
We got to tag along on the Governor’s tour of the facilities at Global Cooling. The technology researchers are developing there is beyond anything I’ve ever seen. Their showcase product was a research refrigerator that created a below zero temperature using minimal electricity. It was so cool, literally!

Third Sun Solar and Wind Power & Sun Power
Unfortunately I was not able to tour Third Sun Solar and Wind Power or Sun Power. I had to leave before those tours were given, but I still got a great perspective into what is going on in Athens involving the new “green” sector. I did some research on both companies and they are doing great things!

Green Energy in Education in Southeast Ohio
Little did I know - Ohio University has been doing a lot involving green energy and green technology. While at the conference, the Governor named OU a “center of excellence” for energy and the environment. Some of the current research at the university involves the production and delivery of energy and fuels, as well as the monitoring and control of the air and water pollution that results from fuel production.

The Hocking College Energy Institute is a new education facility being built at the Logan branch of Hocking College. The institute location was one stop on Strickland’s tour of Southeastern Ohio. It will further technology and education in all areas of renewable energy – including solar, wind, bio-fuels and biomass.

The Governor
This was my first time interviewing the Governor of Ohio, and he is actually a really cool guy. The first thing he said when he came in the room was, “So they only hire good looking people here?” It’s good to know he has a sense of humor.

It was great to see how he interacted with people in the community and his interest in the technology showcased.

The Product
After learning all of this new information about Athens and it’s “green” side, the end product ended up really nice. I was online reporter for the day and, due to more effects of the “sick season,” I was moved to another position for the day and didn’t end up reporting on the story; however, Athens MidDay reporter Brian Boesch did get to do a story for television. I hope that Athens can keep it’s green image and remain the “Oz” of Athens County for years to come.

Athens MidDay reporter Brian Boesch's television story

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