‘The Oak’ is fitting bridge namesake

Published 12:58 am Sunday, March 24, 2013

Esteemed Republican legislator Oakley C. Collins — often affectionately called “The Oak” — was known as a man who helped tie southern Ohio to the rest of the state and built connections on both sides of the political aisle.

So, it seems only fitting that a new bridge here would bear his name.

It will ultimately be up to the Legislature, a body Collins served in for more than 34 years between the House of Representatives and the Senate, to make the decision on what to call the new span that will replace the Ironton-Russell Bridge.

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Hopefully the powers that be in Columbus will, at best, realize the former educator deserves this honor or, at worst, allow this decision to be determined locally through a nomination and public hearing process.

Collins’ legacy was built on the fact he relentlessly fought to make sure southern Ohio wasn’t forgotten but he also pushed common-sense initiatives that benefitted the entire state. He was a champion of education and voting rights, among many other issues.

Far too often in today’s political arena, the idea that laws should actually make sense seems to be forgotten. Collins understood this.

The new bridge connecting Ironton with Russell, Ky., will be vital to Lawrence County’s future, so it is fitting that it be named after such an important person from its past who helped pave the way to the present.