Archived Story

Time to stop looking up to ‘big brother’

Published 12:08am Sunday, July 28, 2013

“Thank you sir. May I have another?” You may remember that from a popular movie of a fraternity pledge being paddled by one of the fraternity members. That has to be some of our local leaders as once again Lawrence County gets “spanked” by state leaders.

We don’t really like it, but I guess we have to act like we do. Once again the proposed Chesapeake Bypass project gets shut down on funding, while the Portsmouth Bypass gets the nod.

Why would this happen once again? The Chesapeake Bypass is a vital piece of what I have heard county leaders say could be an important step toward having a true Tri-State loop.

This would potentially bring commerce to not only Lawrence County but Western West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky. This could be a tremendous asset and finally a way that all three regions could be one large region.

That one region could be a true single region made up of hundreds of thousands of people instead of three vastly smaller regions. That group working as a region instead of Kentuckians, Ohioians and West Virginians, could truly be a dominant economic force. Ashland, the stepsister to Lexington, Huntington, the stepsister to Charleston and southern Ohio, the step sister to Columbus, could truly be a force working together as one.

With the Chesapeake Bypass that could be reality. Maybe there lies the problem?

If the three small regions began to work together and quit relying solely on “big brother” maybe “big brother” wouldn’t like it so much?

With the completion of the Chesapeake Bypass the entire region could have direct access to I-64.

The entire region could be in line for a possible economic recovery. Our entire region could prosper. What could happen within this 60 mile radius if the three stepsisters could all work together and quit relying on the crumbs from big brother’s plate?

I harken back to just a few months ago when an email was sent to me from economic leadership to endorse the Portsmouth Bypass.

Well, I am sorry, but it’s high time we insist on helping ourselves. I guess until then I will be able to get to Columbus 15 minutes quicker.

Oh, until the state lets Circleville and Waverly put in another four stop lights that will slow the process again.


Jay D. Zornes is an Ironton resident, business owner and member of the school board.

  • BillPratt

    I appreciate the compliments. I just enjoy the conversation and it helps me think things through. As you pointed out, I have some work to do to refine my political skills. Ha!

    I am a registered Republican but really consider myself first to be a conservative. I think a lot depends on the family you grow up in. My wife’s family comes from a long line of West Virginia (Wayne County) democrats and the Pratt’s have been Lawrence County Republicans dating back to Lincoln. I had a great uncle, Pearl, who was county auditor from 1935-1939. Really we share the same values.

    In local politics, I don’t think it makes a lot of difference. Most of us are striving for the same thing. We want our county to be better for the next generation. I have good relationships within both parties. I have two brothers with Union memberships but my father, myself and a third brother have always been self employed. I just use my unique perspective and try to keep a positive attitude.

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  • mickakers

    Bill; As a PS: You done a good job walking the political tightrope in your first comment, my compliments. Your second comment lacked political astuteness. Public Servants must be kept on their toes, please don’t take my remarks as being derogatory to your character. The fact of the matter is, I have admiration and respect for you and your opinions. How many Public Servants take the time and make the effort to comment on these articles? My compliments to you, Bill Pratt. Are you a Democrat, Independent or Republican? Ya notice, I placed Republican last on a scale of three. Not being a resident of Lawrence County any more, maybe I should just keep my mouth shut, but on the other hand, I have no self interests in local proceedings and maybe this presents an unbiased opinion, if that is possible. Take care Lawrence County Commissioner Pratt.

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  • BillPratt


    You’re right that the Portsmouth has a greater significance and that’s why we supported it. We’ve not mentioned the I-73 connection here. The Portsmouth Bypass is a portion of that broader project.

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  • mickakers

    Bill; I feel the Portsmouth Bypass should take precedence over the Chesapeake Bypass as it benefits the vast majority of Lawrence county citizens and promotes industrial development on a larger you aptly pointed out in your first comment. I feel your second comment is a bit politically motivated. The Chesapeake Bypass will come about in due time, but that time has not arrived.

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  • BillPratt


    If you’d have done much driving from Rome to Ironton, I think you would appreciate the significance of this. Those traveling from Windsor, Mason, Aid, and Symmes townships would also realize a great benefit.

    The greatest benefit is that it would make our county more interconnected and dissipate some of the East/West stigma we’ve had for decades. Getting those residents in the most affluent part of the county (Rome) to the most active financial part of the county (Burlington) would generate a substantial increase in sales tax for the County and the State of Ohio.

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  • mickakers

    I feel the Chesapeake Bypass would be a waste of money. The Portsmouth Bypass makes more sense. My compliments to the State of Ohio in their decision.

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  • BillPratt


    An excellent column! Your analogy at the beginning is spot on and I had to laugh a good bit over that. In the real world, it’s not quite as funny since this Chesapeake Bypass project dates back to 1953.

    For me, this was my first smack down on this one as an elected official but not the first overall. I got to experience this, first, on the Chesapeake School Board with decreased funding, second with the closure of the ORV, third with their cuts at the county level in our local government funding, and now the thumbs down of our bypass. It is both frustrating and disappointing but as you allude to, also eye opening.

    I remember asking the question specifically at a meeting with ODOT on Legislative Day if our support of the Portsmouth Bypass would negatively affect the progress of the Chesapeake Bypass. Of course, the answer was no but in the back of my mind I couldn’t help but question that. There are different funding sources but to bring it down to a common sense level I could see that southern Ohio wasn’t going to get two gifts in the same year.

    That being said, lets look at the good in this. What is the benefit for Lawrence County once the Portsmouth Bypass is complete? When this highway is complete any traffic with the intention of heading east or southeast will no longer be taking 23 south and across the Ohio River into Kentucky. That traffic, especially truck traffic, will use the Bypass and be funneled toward Ironton, South Point, Burlington, and across the river to I-64. This will make business ventures like the hotel project in Ironton, the truck stop on Marion Pike, and the heavy manufacturing companies along the path more competitive and more profitable. The logistical position of The Point Industrial Park will be improved dramatically.

    In the end, we may see this increased traffic flow as a precursor to emphasizing the need for the Chesapeake Bypass.

    In the short term, probably no individual is more disappointed than I am as a resident of the Chesapeake area but I’m not giving up. We’ll get this to happen. In the meantime, we’ll keep working on the advancement of our community and proving to the State officials why it should happen. We’ll show them that Lawrence County isn’t just a step sister but perhaps is Cinderella.

    Bill Pratt
    Lawrence County Commissioner

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