Monday, June 11, 2001

Local Digest

Columbus considers Statehouse lobbyist

        COLUMBUS — The state's capital and surrounding suburbs are thinking about banding together to hire a Statehouse lobbyist.

        “We are all about 20 minutes from the state capital and yet we seldom go down there to speak our piece,” said Joyce Bushman, Pickerington city manager. “A whole bunch of things are being considered in the state, and each region has its own needs.”

        The central Ohio municipal coalition is particularly interested in annexation law changes that would give townships more control over the growth of cities. Those provisions are being studied by a conference committee of the House and Senate. A statewide coalition opposing such changes was organized by Pickerington last year.

        “The Mid Ohio Municipal Coalition is not about opposing things,” Ms. Bushman said. “We want to help lawmakers understand in a positive way the needs of municipalities.”

        Columbus officials acknowledge that a unified central Ohio voice is needed.

        “One of the first steps taken by this administration was calling together municipal leaders to talk about regional needs. Columbus is going to be at the table as this group works to organize,” said Mike Brown, a spokesman for Mayor Michael Coleman.

        Westerville Mayor Stewart Flaherty is one of the coalition's organizers.

        “We are the engine that drives the economy,” Mr. Flaherty said of municipalities. “The townships have put together a pretty strong voice as evidenced by the annexation-law changes. We do need somebody representing central Ohio to get our needs across. An individual voice by each city is not as effective.”

        Other cities involved in the talks include Bexley, Dublin, Gahanna, Grandview Heights, Grove City, Hilliard, Reynoldsburg, Upper Arlington, Whitehall and Worthington. Municipal officials in Fairfield, Delaware, Licking, Madison, Union and Pickaway counties also are participating.

        Similar coalitions are working in other areas including Cincinnati, Dayton, northeast and northwest Ohio.

U.S. 23 residents refuse to sell land

               LEWIS CENTER, Ohio — Twenty years ago, U.S. 23 between Columbus and Delaware, although a heavily traveled road, was surrounded mostly by farmland and houses.

        Now just 16 homes remain along the 10-mile stretch, and most of the farmland has been converted to commercial development or access to multifamily housing.

        Those who remain on the land say they don't plan to leave.

        “There's hardly a week goes past that I don't get a call asking me to sell my land,” George Radebaugh, 91, said of his 40 acres bordering the four-lane highway. “They tell me I can stay here the rest of my life even if I sell it, but I won't put my signature on any dotted line. This is my home.”

        Carl Skeels, 63, a fifth-generation occupant of his land, has learned to shut out the noise from the 30,000 vehicles that use the highway each day. “It's like living next to railroad tracks,” he said. “You get used to it.”

        The road, known as Columbus Pike in Delaware County, has been a bustling thoroughfare since its birth during the War of 1812 as an army supply route to Fort Meigs in the Toledo suburb of Perrysburg.

        It was a toll road for a couple of decades and became home to inns patronized by travelers such as Charles Dickens and William Henry Harrison.

Chautauqua event coming to Wilmington

               Wilmington College will portray Theodore Roosevelt at its Wilmington Chautauqua event at 7 p.m. June 19 on Wilmington College's Collett Mall.

        The event, which is free and open to the public, will open with a musical presentation by The Wilmington College Trio, a classical ensemble comprised of Robert J. Haskins, Maretta Alden and Barbara Dennis. Keith McGough, a scholar/actor, will perform as Theodore Roosevelt.

        Mr. McGough's first-person historical characterization is designed to present history in compelling fashion in an entertaining and educational way. After his presentation, Mr. McGough will answer questions from the audience both in and out of character. For more information, contact the office of public relations at Wilmington College, (937) 382-6661, ext. 344.

Seniors can learn to guard against fraud

               Greater Cincinnati seniors, and those who care for them, can attend a free instructional seminar later this month on protecting seniors against fraud and enhancing their personal safety.

        The Seniors Against Fraud Expo is June 27, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Albert B. Sabin Cincinnati Convention Center, 525 Elm St. Sponsored by Cincinnati Police and the Ohio Attorney General's office, the expo is for senior citizens, social service agencies and those who provide care for adult dependents.

        Registration is from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. with the expo in the convention center's Exhibitors' Hall & Workshops. Presentations will include: self-defense for seniors; citizens' rights with tele-marketers and products and services available to enhance personal safety.

        For more information call (513) 352-3515.


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