AURORA — U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce of Ohio District 14 visited the city Aug. 1 for his first Main Street Tour, alongside Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin.
During the tour, Joyce and Womer Benjamin met with constituents and business owners to hear their concerns, answer questions and exchange ideas about how to continue building upon local economic growth and enhancing the community.
The duo visited three businesses — Aurora School of Music, Wayside Workshop and Abigail’s — and stopped at the city’s main fire station and the police station.
The morning tour lasted nearly two hours, and concluded with Joyce and mayor enjoying lunch.
“Approachable and always willing to listen, Congressman Joyce is a grassroots representative who cares about his constituents and the communities in his district,” said Womer Benjamin.
“He has come to Aurora frequently and visited companies here, but his walking tour of Town Center establishments was certainly appreciated by everyone.
“He discussed safety and drug issues with Fire Chief Dave Barnes and Police Chief Brian Byard, enjoyed music and learned about the 1,000 Northeast Ohio students at Aurora School of Music and walked through the historic 1815 Tavern with proprietor John Updyke.
“Lunching at Mad Jacks with city officials, he graciously answered questions from all, including Council President George Horvat and School Board President Jerry Kohanski.”
Joyce said he couldn’t have asked for a better city than Aurora for his first Main Street Tour.
“When I’m back home in Northeast Ohio, connecting with constituents, local business owners and community leaders is one of my favorite things to do because I get to meet the people who sent me to Washington and get a feel for their concerns and needs,” he said.
“I was honored to spend my day doing just that with Ann, and look forward to continuing to do these tours all over Ohio’s 14th District.”
Barnes, who has been with the department for 42 years, walked Joyce through the amount of calls the fire department gets on average per year and how both his full-time and volunteer staff work to protect the community.
Byard spoke highly of his 33 officers and 11 dispatchers, while Joyce expressed his strong support for both departments and applauded their dedication to serving the Aurora community.
At the Aurora School of Music, which is owned by Vera Holczer, Joyce and the mayor saw a performance by Brian Harper, one of Holczer’s students. Harper, who is autistic, performed “Clair de Lune” and received a standing ovation.
“Watching and listening to how beautifully Brian can play the piano was such a moving experience,” said Joyce. “It was obvious from the moment we walked into the school that Vera has not only built an incredible business, but also a supportive community where her students can explore their musical talent and unlock endless opportunities for their futures.”
Joyce continued on to meet Jane and Ken Ulmer, who own Wayside Workshop. The business is roughly 34 years old, but moved two years ago into a historic home on South Chillicothe Road built in 1838.
Joyce walked through the entire store, admired the handiwork of all the wooden creations and even purchased a small gift for his wife. The last business Joyce visited was Abigail’s, a hip jewelry, accessories and apparel store owned by Julie Lazor.
“If only my daughters had been there,” said Joyce “They’d love this store. It was great to hear from Julie about how her business has grown over the past nine years. As of last year, women-owned businesses in Ohio have increased by 37 percent since 2007, and Abigail’s is part of that success story.”
Joyce is a resident of Bainbridge Township. He first was elected to represent the 14th District in November 2012, and is serving his fourth term. He is a former public defender and prosecutor for Geauga County.
Joyce will return to Aurora on Aug. 14 to give his annual congressional update at a luncheon for Aurora, Twinsburg and Solon Chamber of Commerce members.
Deadline for reservations for the luncheon is Aug. 7 and the cost is $25 for Chamber members and $35 for non-members.
Reporter Ken Lahmers can be reached at 330-541-9400, ext. 4189 or email@example.com.