2006.04.05 Let's start our own state

Written by David Green.


I’ve been reading the news lately about folks that think the Fayette area is being ignored by the powers that be in Columbus. Since it seems to be a time for new ideas, here’s one I’ll bet no one’s suggested recently, if ever: Let’s secede from Ohio and form the 51st state.

It’s not like there isn’t a precedent in history for the idea. Forty counties broke away from Virginia in 1863 and formed the new state of West Virginia. Why couldn’t we settle the even older controversy over the land known as the Toledo Strip by forming a new state from the northern portions of Williams, Fulton and Lucas counties?

That would end the debate over whether Michigan or Ohio won the Toledo War. The winners would be us, the residents of the new state of...well, let’s call it Utopia for now. Suggestions for a different name will be accepted as none of this is written in stone yet. Heck, I just thought of the idea, don’t bug me for all the details already.

For those not up on their history, the Toledo Strip is about five miles wide at the Indiana state line, gently increasing to about eight miles wide at Lake Erie, taking in most of the modern day Toledo metropolitan area, containing a grand total of 468 square miles. We’ll take the title of smallest state away from Rhode Island. In a weird historical footnote, Robert E. Lee was one of the original surveyors of the strip’s border in 1834.

If you have a Fulton County map handy, County Road K pretty much signifies the new state’s southern border. In the areas where there is no CR K, but a north-south road suddenly makes a severe jog (such as on 66 just south of Zone) the short east-west connector straddles the new state line. Welcome to Utopia, citizens of Zone, Winameg and Ai. Archbold, Wauseon, Delta and Swanton...sorry, you’re still stuck in Ohio.

Since It’s my idea, Fayette would be the capital for the new state. Because it’s about halfway between the new state’s east and west borders, it  makes geographic sense, too.

I know that some folks in Toledo will think they should be the capital, but they already are the industrial and population center of the new state in addition to being our port city. Toledo has also long  complained about their treatment at the hands of the former state capital, so I think a slight increase in the amount of their tax revenue returned to them should make them come around.

Just think of the boon to the economy a state capital will bring to Fayette. We’ll need a capital building, a governor’s home, offices for all the various state agencies and plenty more. And maps, lots of maps.

Then there’s the need for a Fayette International Airport. You can’t have a state capital without air service. And since our new state will have some electoral votes in the 2008 presidential election, you can bet all of the candidates will be wanting to fly into Fayette to campaign.

And think of the mad rush of politicians in Washington trying to curry favor with the new state by giving us all sorts of governmental largesse. Libraries, hospitals, schools, all this and more ours for the taking.

If we ever did run into money problems, we could follow Indiana’s lead and lease US 20 (wait, make that Utopia 20) to a foreign consortium, allowing them to charge a toll to truckers and non-Utopians.

Of course, we’ll also have a rush of political types fighting over the new governor, congressional and senatorial seats that will be created. I would suspect Toledo mayor Carty Finkbeiner would want a bigger role in the new state. “Senator Finkbeiner” has a bit of a ring to it, don’t you think? Well, it might to him.

And don’t think I’ve come up with this idea just to advance my own political aspirations. In fact, I’m not really looking for a political office at all. I’m willing to settle for ownership of the new riverboat gambling casinos at Harrison Lake. I think that would be fair compensation. Like I said, it was my idea.

  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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