A Visit Home

Last weekend I had a chance to visit Findlay and Hancock County. Didn’t you know I don’t live there? I lived there for the first 18 years of my life but chose to move out when I went to college.

It is good to be gone for a few months or years so you can come back and notice any changes. This time I had the chance to drive around in the daylight.

I ate at IHOP for the first time in about 10 years. The first time was back on a trip through South Carolina. The far eastside of Findlay continues to grow. Even up through high school, there was nothing past the Meijer store, now there are sub divisions and retail stores and restaurants. IHOP actually had good food. Not that I thought they didn’t but the closest to IHOP that I’ve had before is the greasy spoon Waffle House. But IHOP is more like Shoney’s or Perkins.

On Friday night I ate at Tony’s Pizza and Ribs on US 224 west. Tony’s has the best pizza and BBQ in Hancock County. It use to be in McComb but due to a poor business decision on the part of Tony’s landlord, it moved to Findlay in a larger building.

Also on Friday night my mom and I went to see Starsky and Hutch at the Carmike 6 at the Findlay Mall. I have been pampered too much with AMC in Columbus. Carmike didn’t have stadium seating nor did they have arm rests that could be folded out of the way for us larger folks. After 90 minutes I had to stand up to restore the circulation in my legs. The movie was funny and brought back a lot of memories for those of us who lived the 70’s. Unfortunately, most in the audience were too young to catch the cultural jokes.

When I got to Findlay on that Thursday my mom let me know that The Courier had published a letter to the editor I had sent in earlier in the week. Here is the text I sent them:

I write today to comment on the article “Oxley: Economy faring well” that was published online on 3/23/2004.

Rep. Oxley took time during is speech to the Findlay Rotary Club to comment about the series the Toledo Blade published on Oxley back in December, which by the way appeared in several newspapers in the 4th District except The Courier.

He compared Hancock and Lucas county, pointing out that economically that Hancock county is doing better than Lucas county.

He said “the civic leaders and citizens of Hancock County, and throughout the 4th District, come together in public-private partnerships for the common good. They put aside politics when it comes to jobs. I think you have to have lived here to understand that.”

I find it ironic that Oxley would claim one would have to live here to understand. Oxley may have his permanent residence in Findlay but has spent 99% of his time either at his home in the Washington DC area or on trips paid for by the special interest groups that want him to vote and act for their best interests.

If Oxley really lived in Findlay he would know that the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority built and owns the building that was built for the Kuss Corp back in 2001 and that the State of Ohio provided $45,000 for an investment and training grant for the company for example.

Then there are the state grants that will be used to fix the bridges and roads that the county never seems to have enough money to fix. No, Hancock county isn’t “dependent on the state and federal government for handouts”.

Usually the public-private partnerships seem to involve the private building something and the public footing the bill for building the roads, putting in the sewers, and providing the fire protection at little or no cost to the development.

Douglas Berger

Naturally, the editor cut the line where I pointed out the Blade Oxley series had run in some of the papers in the 4th District except for the Courier.

Just today the Courier reported that Findlay City Council’s Parks and Recreation Committee recommended that the city replace the old Hancock Rec Center with a new facility over 15 years and costing $20 million. The current center that the city traded the county for last year was built in 1973 has no air conditioning and only a boys locker room.

HRC has been used a hot political issue over the years. Politicians who fall over themselves to give welfare to businesses have not wanted to spend the money on a new recreation center at any price. Jobs are important to the community but to ignore other elements that form a vibrant attractive community is just as foolish. Businesses looking to add jobs to a community also look at the opportunities in the community for their new employees like good schools and good recreation facilities.

Dublin, a suburb of Columbus, has about the same population as Findlay and they built a top notch recreation center that not only has a gym and pool but also has a community hall, a theater, classrooms, teen center, and Senior center. It cost $14 million and the debt is shared by the users through memberships. Currently, Findlay residents pay fees to use the Riverside Park pool.

It can be done if the current city leadership can see the long term benefits of building a new HRC rather than the short term monetary costs.

Originally posted on the blog “Hancock County Politics Unfiltered”