To the editor:

In 2015, after decades of thrift, struggle, and saving, my parents bought a small bit of land and a cabin in Athens County. In the intervening years they’ve turned this into a peaceful getaway for themselves, their five kids, and our extended family. Now, after years of being robbed and harassed, they’re planning to sell. Who do you want to occupy this land, Athens?

Both of my parents put themselves through Ohio University and finally paid off their college debt many years later. They both worked full-time to support five kids. Our family has held ties to Athens for more than a generation and my parents are the type of people you want as neighbors. But they aren’t the ones this community has been supporting.

My father, who got his start at OU Army ROTC, retired from a decorated career as an officer in the U.S. Army, where he spent decades serving our country. During my high school years, he spent every day from before sunrise to after sundown in the Pentagon, fighting tirelessly for, among other things, funding for better IED detection to protect our soldiers.

After his retirement, my mom went on to run one of the most successful hospitals of its type in the country and won numerous national awards for quality of patient care. The last time I saw her, she came home from her job as a hospital executive only to change into scrubs and return immediately to pitch in as a nurse in her hospital’s emergency department, overrun by COVID patients.

Both of my parents and my brother attended OU. The ashes of my parents’ first grandchild, my daughter, are scattered at the property. As a family, our efforts to plant roots here have been rejected by local thieves who’ve robbed, with impunity, my hard-working and good-hearted parents of the retirement they deserve.

Who do you want in your community? Those who would selflessly serve others, support their neighbors, grow roots, build a home? Or small-time criminals role-playing some Copperhead Road fantasy?

I’m offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those who robbed the property on Salem Road, most recently stealing a 7kW Craftsman generator and, in prior thefts, a rifle, Stihl chainsaw, Honda ATV and many other things. Email or contact the Athens Sheriff directly at 740-593-6633 with info.

Beau Graham

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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