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.