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Old County Jail project is supported

BURLINGTON – One by one, they’re lining up to express their support for something they now hold only in their hearts.

Monday, March 18, 2002

BURLINGTON – One by one, they’re lining up to express their support for something they now hold only in their hearts.

Concerned Citizens For Burlington committee member Virginia Bryant says local and state leaders are enthusiastically lending their names to the project to transform the old Lawrence County Jail at Burlington into a museum.

Bryant has received letters of support from 6th District U.S. Congressman Ted Strickland, as well as Common Pleas Judge Frank McCown, Lawrence County Municipal Judge Donald Capper, Lawrence County Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Boster, and a number of other local office holders.

"And all the letters are enthusiastic – they’re not just your typical letters of support," she said. "These letters are just glowing."

Fellow member David Milem agrees.

"We haven’t found anyone who doesn’t support the idea," he said. "From one end of the county to the other, they say it’s a great idea."

The list of supporters is even coming from outside Lawrence County. Retired Huntington businessman A. Michael Perry sees not only an historical gem in the old stone building, but a structural one as well.

"Just the construction of that massive building is something," Perry said, noting that the stones were cut by hand in a quarry some miles away and then brought to the site and used to construct the two-story jail, all without modern construction equipment. "I think it tells our children where we came from and what kind of people we are."

Perry said it saddens him that people in this area sometimes take for granted their heritage.

"Sometimes we aren’t as proud of our heritage as we are entitled to be," he said. "We need to celebrate it."

"We’ve not really shared the message of our county’s heritage," said retired Ohio University Southern Campus Dean Bill Dingus.

He adds that talk of a new museum created from a piece of Lawrence County’s past is just in time "as we move toward the state’s bicentennial next year."

Organization members are hoping that all this public support will translate into the dollars needed to make the museum a reality.

Bryant says members of Concerned Citizens For Burlington are preparing applications for grants to help pay for the purchase and refurbishment of the building. They plan to solicit donations as well.

"We don’t have concrete figures yet on what restoration will cost," Milem said. "But we’re thinking it will be in the neighborhood of $300,000." He adds that the committee will welcome volunteers who are willing to work on "any part of the project."

Those who want to donate may send their contributions to P.O. Box 1266 Burlington, Ohio 45680.