Clear Fork Youth Center

Clear Fork, Ohio

It’s not easy to find on a map…because it doesn’t exist.  Clear Fork is the name of the High School that I attended.  It consists of two tiny towns (Butler and Bellville) combined together to form The Clear Fork Valley.  The name comes from the Clear Fork river that flows through both towns.  As of 2013 the combined population is 2,808 people.  A number that I’m sure is a little different now.  Many have left us, for the city life, and many that are still here are now raising the next generation of Clear Forkians.

“The Valley” as some call it, really is a beautiful place to live. However, it is very inconveniently located.  We can be found about 60 miles North of Columbus and around 70 miles South of Cleveland.  Mansfield is the main city that is the closest to Clear Fork area and even that is about a 25 minute drive.  As far as entertainment goes there is next to none.  If you’re looking for something to do, you are likely going to be making that 60 mile drive south to Columbus.

Don’t get me wrong, There is something about the Clear Fork Valley that, for many of us, has some sort of power that just wont let you leave. Trust me,  I’ve tried.  A few years back a buddy and I moved down to Columbus to experience the “big city” feel.  It was awesome, there was more stores and restaurants within walking distance of my apartment than I could come across in a 30 minute drive back home.

I loved it!.

But it wasn’t home.

Every time I would drive back to The Valley to visit my parents while I lived in Columbus, I was amazed at what I didn’t even know I was missing. Like the sounds of the birds singing and seeing the chipmunks scurry across the bike trail while you walk alongside the river, on your way to everybody’s favorite ice cream spot The Dairy Belle. Not to mention passing 2 or 3 people who you know during your walk.  The small town thing where everybody knows everything about everyone definitely has some ups and downs, but it goes along with that saying “you don’t know what you got until its gone”

That was the case for me.

Before I moved, I used to get annoyed at all the sounds of the birds.  I used to wonder what it was like to not have to stop and talk to every other person I passed and let them know how my Grandma is doing, or what my parents are up to.  I just wanted to go along with my day. That was teenage ignorance I suppose.

It took the sound of Semi Trucks driving passed my apartment every single night on I-70, and police sirens waking me up in the middle of the night, for me to realize how much I missed the birds singing, and how badly I wanted some ice cream from The Dairy Belle.

So I came home.

Since the time I’ve moved back I have appreciated things a lot more.  I do miss the convenience of city living, but I think I just may be a lifer here in Clear Fork.

Since the time I’ve moved back I have also realized that the fact that there is nothing to do in our area, is our greatest downfall.  In Butler the private club “The Tall Timber Inn” is proudly the #1 seller of Budweiser products in all of Richland County selling well over 100,000 bottles in a year.  The gas station (within walking distance of Tall Timber) happens to be the #2 seller of Budweiser products in all of Richland county.  This would probably be a good time to mention that Butler only contributes 921 of the 2,808 people in the Clear Fork area. Even Stevie Wonder can see the problem here…

Unfortunately alcohol isn’t the only problem that is taking over our beautiful little community.  Heroin and harder drugs have been sweeping in like wildfire.  Because of this, there has been an extremely high number of break ins.  Now would also be a good time to mention that around here, people are strongly in favor of the 2nd amendment.  It’s only a matter of time until someone picks the wrong house to break into and we could possibly see what would be the first documented murder in Clear Fork.

Losing my step-brother Colton Viars to an overdose a few years back only opened my eyes even more, that something MUST be done to protect the youth of this community. We need to provide them with some type of outlet, and some type of fun, that isn’t drinking or doing drugs. Quite frankly, that’s all they have.

I have always wished that I had the ability to start some kind of Youth Center.  In my visions I would love to be able to provide many opportunities for the teens and tweens of this community to be able to learn new skills, such as music and art. My desires are that other members of the community would be able to teach, and give back some of their skills to the younger generation, and could possibly become role models for the ones they teach.

I would absolutely find pure bliss in being able to provide recreational sports for them to be involved in such as basketball and flag football. Exercise and outdoor activities are crucial for younger children, and organizing basketball and flag football tournaments for kids (and people of all ages) to compete and be active would be a good way to make sure that there is something to look forward to after a long day.

I would also love to include an after school tutoring program that would enable students that struggle in school to be able to find help outside of their homes. In some cases we have single parents working multiple jobs, just trying to keep the lights on for their children, and that can cause them to not be able to provide their kids with the proper help that they need for school work.

Those are just a few of the idea’s I would work on implementing, I have plenty other ideas floating around in this head of mine.

Maybe, just maybe, if we had those opportunities when I was younger, things would be different around here.  Maybe I would have never had that desire to move to Columbus to experience big city life.  Maybe my classmates wouldn’t be in and out of jail for drug and alcohol issues. Maybe Colton could still be here with us.

Maybe not.

All I know is that if I have the ability to change just one life, to make a difference for just one person, then whatever I sacrifice will be more than worth it.  My hopes is that it’s not just one life though and that its many lives, both young and old. My hope is that it is something that can last for generations and help everyone find their love for this community.

It is a dream of mine to be able to provide those opportunities for the community that I love because I hope that one day, when I am raising a young Clear Forkian of my own, that they will have opportunities that I didn’t, and that they will continue to build the Clear Fork Valley into the community we all know it can be.

By: Adam Wisenbarger

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12 thoughts on “Clear Fork Youth Center

  1. I enjoyed reading your article. What a remarkable way to “pay it forward.” I would love to see this dream of yours become reality! It’s in your blood to be able to make this happen! Your grandma D has done so much for this community! I love the thought of you carrying on her giving, caring, ways! Good luck!

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  2. Very nice story Adam. Unfortunately all small communities have the same problem with everything you mentioned, I hope you are able to get some backing and start one of the programs and then another then another.
    Drugs are a horrible problem in every city and every walk of life.
    Your life is nothing but Choices, good, bad and the ugly. There are always consequences.
    There are two facts of life, it doesn’t matter what you know, it is who you know and if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is!
    Keep up the good work and wishing you the best in your writing and in your life’s!
    Mark & Donna B

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  3. Adam iam very proud of you, sports has always been your dream job, working with kids your 2nd, maybe a writer should be in that prority this as well. I know you’d be great at all 3. Keep up your quest- you can do anything you put your mind to and want bad enough. Oue community would be lucky to have you working with its youth. I love you.😆 Mom

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  4. Adam first of all great article. .. I myself too left clear fork and came home on a weekly basis because columbus never felt like home. I did want to tell you in case you didn’t know at one point in time 3 crosses church before it became 3 crosses church was thinking about putting a community center right there where their parking lot is now… if you are serious about opening one, I would encourage you to speak with them to see why they chose to not build. They may still have it in the cards for butler just made getting the new church building a priority. They could be a great place to back you if you move forward. Colton was a great person that I didn’t know all too well, but I do know he would be happy to see you pursuing your dreams! Good luck adam!

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    • Thank you Amanda, Do you know who I should reach out to? Please let me know, I am interested in speaking with as many people as possible about getting this going. I appreciate it!!

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      • Hi Adam, I love what you have said here, I have the same goal at Clearfork Adventure Resort in Butler, we are here to do all the things your envisioning, because it is our vision. You should come visit.

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  5. Oh, Adam,,, that was such a GREAT article…. This small town does need something to attract our young kids and also the older generation also… Mayor Kinley and I have discussed this many times, and said it is so sad to see our Butler School being torn down because that could have made a wonderful Youth Center, and whatever else could be housed there… Keep up the good work,,, and maybe go to the council meetings, to see if you could get some advice there….

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  6. Adam great idea. I would like to have an assisted living facility/ nursing home some day here in Butler/Bellville, with some rocking chairs out back a lake and a huge rec center…I figure the elderly would be able to be involved if they want. Could be beautiful, host weddings and cook outs for families, fun healthy activities for the youth. We should partner up😉 You would handle the rec center totally. Pond for fishing and swimming ball fields galore. Maybe some day Oyster would donate that area.

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