Sunday, February 2, 2003

GOP lawmakers oppose prison closing

The Associated Press

LIMA, Ohio - Union leaders and Republican lawmakers have formed an unlikely alliance in an effort to prevent the closing of the Lima Correctional Institution.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said this week that it will close the 88-year-old prison by July because of its age and size, saving the state about $25 million a year.

Rep. John Willamowski, of Lima, and Sen. Jim Jordan, of Urbana, two of the most conservative Republicans in the Legislature, drew several standing ovations at a union rally Friday.

"The hill's pretty steep, the odds are pretty long, but that doesn't mean we can't fight," Jordan more than 500 people in Memorial Hall.

"It doesn't mean we can't win," he said.

Willamowski said he wants to meet with Gov. Bob Taft Monday, the day the Republican governor plans to introduce his two-year budget proposal.

Craig Bradford, president of the union that represents most of the prison's employees, said he got unexpected support at the rally from Keith Cheney, chairman of the Allen County Republican Party.

Leaders of education, law enforcement and industrial unions also pledged their support.

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