2006.04.05 Let's start our own state

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY

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.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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