Letters to the Editor: Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023

I enjoyed Pam Cottrell’s Sept. 13 column about her desire to sit in the Diamond Seats at Great American Ballpark. She is 100% correct about companies buying up blocks of these seats and not caring if they are used 81 times or not. I can go one step further in regard to actually watching the game. I usually sit on the first base side and often forget that if one really wants to watch the game and sit in an aisle seat, you need to remember to buy one on the right side of the row. This is because people are in a non-stop caravan up and down the aisles throughout the entire game. This meant I had to crane my neck to see many pitches as people were blocking the view. Many times the same people were up and down the aisle to the point where I could not understand why they even came in-person since the game was on TV at home. Many came back carrying food and drinks and some had little kids who needed to go to the bathroom every other inning. I have attended games in Cincinnati every year (except 2020, of course) starting in 1956 and have seen this become commonplace. Even in Riverfront Stadium I do not recall this being so bad, as I have always tried to get aisle seats, even though in the old days it meant passing beer one way down the row and money the other way. Vendors no longer patrol the aisles and you can no longer use cash for anything down there. I long for the days when people actually cared about the game and sat on the edges of their seats anticipating the next pitch. I long for the good old days in baseball.

- Thomas W. Billing, Springfield

During September each year across the United States, we take time to recognize and celebrate Direct Support Professionals (DSPs). The dedicated members of this workforce are committed year-round to supporting people with disabilities living in the community. The range of support they provide varies depending on the needs of each person, however it is crucial to assuring people with disabilities can live full and meaningful lives, just like you and me.

The availability of DSPs has been critically low over the past several years placing staffing at a crisis point with reported turnover rates of greater than 50%. Wages for DSPs are paid through Medicaid that funds Home and Community Based services for people with disabilities living in the community. The funding for these services follows the person and is provided to pay for needed supports. Payment rates for Medicaid services have not increased over time and particularly not at the pace seen in the private sector.

While DSPs are mission driven in their work, change had to happen to increase wages to help retain these vital workers and recruit more of them to address the workforce crisis. Through a united statewide effort, we were successful in gaining an increase in Medicaid rates during the State budget process this spring. We are grateful to Governor DeWine, Cabinet Leaders, and members of our State Legislature who advocated for, and ultimately approved increases in the new two-year state budget. The additional funding will increase the average wage for DSPs in two phases on January 1 and July 1, 2024.

- Lisa Guliano, Superintendent for the Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities