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It’s official: Collins levy approved

Smith GOP candidate in 93rd House race

Six recounts and one month later the results are the same for two well-watched Lawrence County races from the March primary.

The Collins Career Center half-mill levy whose passage school officials said was vital to a multi-million dollar renovation project will now go into effect after pulling in 4,988 votes for and 4,956 votes against.

The five-year levy will bring in approximately $300,000 a year for a set-aside maintenance fund for the campus once the $22 million renovation project is finished.

The project includes expanding classroom size and adding 11,000 square feet overall to the facility. Since 75 percent of the cost is coming from the Ohio School Facilities Commission, the district is required to escrow funds for 23 years to make sure the facility is maintained.

School officials campaigned hard to get the levy passed in the wake of the defeat in November of a one-mill senior citizen levy that lost by only 95 votes. Superintendent Steve Dodgion had said if the levy were defeated, the renovations would continue but program and personnel cuts were on tap.

“I really believe it was certainly a team effort by everybody,” Dodgion said. “Everybody involved with the career center went out and told our story. Once the taxpayers saw the critical nature, they were willing to give their support.”

Because the original vote met the parameters of a recount — the difference in the tally was one-half of one percent of the total votes cast — Lawrence and Gallia boards of elections spent last week adding up the figures again.

The original margin was 31 votes; this time that figure went up to 32 votes.

“We picked up a vote, picked up a concerned citizen,” Dodgion said.

In the 93rd State House race for the Republican nomination, Gallia financial adviser Ryan Smith gained four more votes to pull ahead of his opponents Lawrence Economic Development Corp. director Bill Dingus and Jackson County Commissioner Jim Riepenhoff.

After the first vote was in Smith and Dingus were neck and neck forcing a recount for that race. Now with tallies from all four counties in that district — Lawrence, Gallia, Jackson and Vinton — the final count is 6,966 for Smith; 6878 for Dingus and 3,176 for Riepenhoff. This time Smith gained four more votes in the recount.

Smith will face Ohio University student and Wellston Councilman Luke Scott in November.

“I am excited to get started,” Smith said. “I look forward to trying to improve the district and region as a whole and hope to see some good things happen.”