OHIO Committee seeks ways to save sites

The issues involve protecting financial aspects of the historical sites as well as the historical value.
COLUMBUS -- Hoping to strengthen and better define the relationship between the state and the Ohio Historical Society, lawmakers began meeting in a special committee charged with finding recommendations to keep Ohio historical sites open.
"This is a unique partnership," said state Rep. Kerry Metzger, a New Philadelphia Republican. "Its a different relationship" than with other state agencies.
Metzger, chairman of the House Select Committee to Study the Effectiveness of Ohio's Historical Programs and Partnerships, said each time the group takes state money, it enters into a contract with the state. He said that entitles the state to help strengthen the group and partnership.
"In some aspects it could mean more state involvement," he said. "In some aspects it could mean less state involvement." He said there are certain things the state can and can't ask the historical society to do.
Metzger said the committee's recommendations could eventually be turned into legislation. He said that while all the legislation may not pass this legislative session, the committee members will continue to present it in the future.
Site issues: According to Metzger the issues involve protecting financial aspects of the historical sites as well as the historical value. He said the state also relies on the sites for tourism money.
The state provides 65 percent to 70 percent of the historical society's budget depending on the year, Metzger said.
He said he would like to see all ideas on the table, then eliminated and sorted until the committee develops its list of recommendations. He said some of those recommendations will be fiscal and some will be operational.
Youngstown Democrat and committee member Sylvester Patton said he is excited about the committee and its tasks.
Local involvement: According to Patton, D-64th, the experience and interest of committee members as well as a heavy meeting schedule should allow the committee to develop its list of recommendations by the Feb. 15 deadline.
"Its going to make a very good committee," he added.
Patton's experience includes several months on the Northside Historical Society in Youngstown. He said he had to leave the group when he was elected to the House.
"Now I get to pick up where I left off," he said.
Patton said he hopes the committee will learn the number of historic sites and their locations.
"I want to learn a little more about the Ohio Historical Society," he said. Patton said he would also like to learn more about the way public and private funds are used at the historical society. He said he would like to see the two work together in a partnership.

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