Bill to bring #036;2.55 million to county awaits Taft#039;s OK

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 3, 2005

Southern Ohioans have more than two million reasons to watch Gov. Bob Taft closely this week.

With a near unanimous vote of 29-1, the Ohio Senate passed a capital bill Tuesday that could bring $2.55 million to Ohio University Southern and the Ohio State Highway Patrol's Ironton Post - if Taft OKs it.

"I don't think there will be any (line-item) vetoes. The House, the Senate and the Governor all worked very closely on it before it was introduced," said Sen. John Carey (R-17th), who also chairs the Senate Finance Committee. "It was pretty much the same as the Governor introduced."

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The bill, which includes $558,831 for the OUS' Proctorville center, $109,277 for the Ironton campus and $1.9 million for the OSHP, passed the House of Representatives last week. The legislation takes effect 90 days after Taft signs it.

For OUS Dean Dr. Dan Evans, the news is an exciting portent of the great things to come.

"We have been bursting at the seams at our Proctorville location for several years. This will give us an opportunity to expand our program offerings there," Evans said. "One of the things we were real concerned about was how we could best serve the eastern end of the county, in terms of facility."

To that end, the new facility along State Route 7 could break ground late this spring or early summer, Evans said.

State Sen. Tom Niehaus (R-14th) said that Carey, former Senator Doug White and State Reps. Clyde Evans and Todd Book deserve all the credit. Still, the newly-elected senator said he was excited to see the educational needs of the region being met.

"Anything we can do to improve the higher education facilities, encourage more people to attendance and make college experience more meaningful is important," he said. "We must continue to do that."

The Ohio State Highway Patrol's Ironton Post is continuing to look towards a new facility. The agency has been looking at several locations including a site in the South Ironton Industrial Park, adjacent to the Ohio Department of Transportation's county garage.

The bill also includes $540 million that would be allocated to the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission to distribute. The Ironton School District and Collins Career Center would both be eligible for potential funding.