• 52°

Purple Hearts group wants state to hurry up on road naming

They want a tangible tribute that honors their sacrifice, but they say state officials are dragging their feet.

Monday, March 25, 2002

They want a tangible tribute that honors their sacrifice, but they say state officials are dragging their feet.

Seven members of the Lawrence County Chapter 765 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart Thursday met with representatives for U.S. 6th District Congressman Ted Strickland to see if they would pressure state officials to adopt their proposal to designate State Route 93 in Lawrence County as The Purple Heart Highway.

Vice-post commander Charles Meadows said the group approached 17th District State Sen. Ted Shoemaker with the idea in 1999. Shoemaker put his support behind the proposal, and then sent it to State Senate President Richard Finan for referral to committees and, they hope, eventual approval by the full senate.

Eight months later, they charge the bill still has not made it to the floor of the senate for approval.

"We’d appreciate any help we can get," Post Commander Ronald McFann said.

"We did our part," added Meadows. "We fought for our country."

Meadows pointed out that the order is only asking the state to rename that part of State Route 93 that lies within Lawrence County – approximately 35 miles of roadway.

A spokeswoman for Finan said the bill was approved by the Highways and Transportation Committee June 27, 2001, and was then sent to the Senate Rules Committee, where it remains at least until after the Easter Break. Legislators will return to Columbus April 16.

Field representative Judy Newman and caseworker Clare Rubadue said they doubted there was much they could do, since this is a state issue, and they work on the federal level. However, Newman suggested they also speak with State Senator John Carey, who represents part of Lawrence County. Perhaps the two senators together would have more impact than one alone in getting the road renamed.

Group members discussed several issues at Thursday’s meeting. One idea addressed was a federal fishing and hunting license for disabled veterans.

Right now, Ohio veterans who are 100 percent disabled are entitled to a free license that entitles them to hunting, trapping, fishing and camping privileges within the state. Most states have similar allowances for their disabled veterans.

But Meadows, who is himself disabled, pointed out that if he goes to other states, he must pay

a fee to hunt and fish there.

"I went to Grayson Lake in Kentucky to fish once, and while I was there, I was stopped by a game warden. He asked to see my license. I showed him my Ohio license, which is free, and he told me that didn’t work in Kentucky. I went before the judge in Elliott County and when that judge heard my situation, he told me I could fish and hunt anytime I wanted in Elliott County and nothing would happen to me. But that’s not the point."

"We didn’t just fight for Ohio," McFann countered. "We fought for America." The group wants a federal hunting, camping and fishing permit for 100 percent disabled veterans that would be acceptable in all fifty states.

Rubadue agreed to present the request to Strickland, but would not say if he thought the idea actually has a chance of passage.

"I have no idea what the congressman will say about it," Rubadue said. "This has traditionally been a realm of the states, and there would probably be intense lobbying against it by the states."