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.little Ball
    Fayette's Demetrious Whiteside (left)Skylar Lester attempt to keep the ball from going out of bounds during Morenci's recent basketball tournament for fourth and fifth grade teams. Morenci's Andrew Schmidt stands by.
  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • 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.

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