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County gets attention at state capital

COLUMBUS - Lawrence County had the attention of the higher powers Thursday.

Dozens of community members joined the Greater Lawrence County Area Chamber of Commerce to express concerns at the capital as part of the 13th annual Legislative Day.

"This unifies the community with the businesses and the government," Dr. Bill Dingus, executive director of the chamber, said.

Dingus said the senators, representatives and other political figures in attendance had all their attention on Lawrence County.

"You are helping me and all the leaders here to understand Lawrence County by being here," Sen. Tom Niehaus said. "We're looking out for the residents of Lawrence County. Let's focus on the issues to bring the resources to solve the problems."

Also in attendance were Lt. Gov. Bruce Johnson, Sen. John Carey, Jr., State Rep. Clyde Evans. Rep. Todd Book was unable to attend.

The economic development meeting began with a presentation outlining the development of River Walk in Proctorville.

"We (the Ohio Department of Development) are excited to see that you are pursuing this," said Kristi Tanner, assistant deputy director of the Economic Development Division of the ODOD. "We've not seen too many programs around the state that are as ambitious as this."

Tanner continued the meeting by briefly touching on Gov. Bob Taft's plans for tax reform and what the department is doing to market Ohio.

She said the Ohio Business Development Coalition, a non-profit organization, has been created to develop a marketing strategy for the state to bring in more businesses. This will also help improve the state's image Tanner said.

Lt. Gov. Bruce Johnson was the keynote speaker for the event.

He said Ohio is not satisfied in its current condition because it has no reason to be satisfied. This will be remedied through multiple tactics, such as tax reform, Johnson said.

"We can sell our state quite effectively, but we shouldn't be killing ourselves with high taxes," he said.

Johnson also said the state must be concerned with fixing infrastructure, creating job ready sites and staying on the cutting edge of technology.

After lunch, Gordon Proctor, director of the Ohio Department of Transportation, spoke about continuing the Chesapeake Bypass.

He said plans are to proceed with the bypass despite the land and rock erosion problems that have been encountered.

Tim McDonald, the deputy director of the Division of Production Management of the ODOT, touched on transportation issues in the state.

Gov. Taft sees a problem with transportation and the state has a responsibility to fix it, McDonald said.

He said congestion and accidents were the two main issues, citing 400,000 accidents on Ohio state highways each year.