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Ohioans asking government for personal bailouts

AKRON (AP) — The flood of applications for federal stimulus money in Ohio includes hundreds of requests by individuals for business ventures, personal bailouts and bizarre projects.

A resident of Loveland, outside Cincinnati, asked for $100 million to build a gold statue of the president. A man in Canton in northeast Ohio wants $100,000 to train professional magicians and teach magic as therapy.

It’s unclear if some of the requests are jokes, but others appear to be more serious pleas from laid-off workers or parents trying to balance their checkbooks.

One woman sought money to reopen a clothing store for motorcycle riders that had closed because of the sluggish economy. A man cut from a retail job said he wants $40,000 to go to law school. Another woman requested $10,000 to help pay off loans, saying her family was as desperate for a bailout as big banks that have failed.

Susan Arthur of Orrville said she doesn’t expect to get the $200,000 she requested to send her three children to college.

‘‘I was trying to get something across to the government,’’ the 51-year-old bookkeeper said. ‘‘We’re the little people. We’re not the cities, counties or states. All of us little people need help, too.’’

The state’s stimulus funding Web site has received more than 18,600 requests totaling more than $1 trillion. Ohio is getting $8.2 billion from the stimulus package, and about 70 percent of that likely will be used to help balance the state budget.

The Web site will help the state identify which project proposals are worthwhile and eligible for the remaining stimulus funding, said Amanda Wurst, a spokeswoman for Gov. Ted Strickland. Officials hope to refer ineligible applicants to other programs, she said.

They expect the stimulus aid will be distributed to government agencies, businesses and other organizations, not to individuals, according to the Web site.

Joseph and Rebecca Pieleck of Stow say they don’t anticipate the state fulfilling their requests worth $6.75 million. They work as a network technician and a utilities supervisor and said they would use the money to run three businesses: a beef jerky company, an animal day care and a home renovation company.

‘‘Both our jobs are hanging in the balance like a lot of other people in the economy,’’ Joseph Pieleck said. ‘‘This seemed like an opportunity to get a business going. What’s the harm?’’