PREBLE COUNTY — A special visit from Gov. Mike DeWine and others highlighted a Monday, May 1, ribbon cutting celebrating the “re-imagined” Preble County Welcome Center on eastbound Interstate 70.
Governor DeWine, First Lady Fran DeWine, Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jack Marchbanks, and Ohio Department of Development Director Lydia Mihalik unveiled the newly redesigned Welcome Center and announced a plan to replace 33 rest area buildings over the next four years.
The Preble County Welcome Center, just inside Ohio’s western border, is part of the Governor’s vision to greatly improve the traveler experience for the thousands of visitors who stop at Ohio rest areas every day.
“This Welcome Center is really a first impression for people as they come into the state of Ohio,” DeWine told those in attendance. “ODOT tells me there’s about 53,000 vehicles drive through here, by here, every day and many of them stop.”
“It is I think, a warm and inviting space that’s full of life,” DeWine said of the center.
He continued, “Our rest stops give travelers, truck drivers, and families a safe place to rest, I-70 Preble County Welcome Center Interior which can increase focus and safety when they get back on the road. While they’re stretching their legs, we want to share Ohio’s amazing story, and tell them about our innovative Ohioans, beautiful natural resources, and exciting attractions. We want them to know Ohio is full of great opportunity!”
While the new building at the Preble County Welcome Center opened in 2019, the site has recently been re-imagined with upgrades which include native Ohio plants and landscaping, dog trails, Ohio music, rocking chairs, and a Storybook Trail outside.
“The Storybook Trail allows kids and their families to read an Imagination Library book while burning off some energy at the rest area,” said First Lady DeWine. “And I hope this Storybook Trail will motivate people to explore nearly two dozen other Storybook Trails in Ohio parks and enroll Ohio children under age 5 for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Ohio to get free books.”
Inside the Welcome Center, visitors can learn about Ohio’s history as the “Birthplace of Aviation” and see places of interest to help plan their next adventure to the area.
The enhancements were a collaboration between the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio Department of Development.
“No matter where you find yourself in Ohio, you can be in a bustling city, a charming small town, or a beautiful outdoor destination with just a quick drive,” said Mihalik. “Ohio’s rest areas offer an opportunity to welcome visitors and showcase all our state has to offer.”
The pictures and tourism information on the walls inside the Welcome Center highlight aviation and space work, history, research, and exploration. The display focuses on the Wright Brothers’ journey to flight, Wright Brothers National Museum, Carillon Historical Park, National Museum of the United States Air Force, Armstrong Air and Space Museum, Ohio NASA astronauts, NASA Glenn Research Center, and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
Guests can scan QR codes on the walls for more information about other Ohio attractions, such as the historic Paul Laurence Dunbar House in Dayton, local and state parks, Ohio public universities, and other historical sites.
A 10-foot map of Ohio highlights popular attractions across the state.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on Twitter @emowenjr.