Despite stipulations, more historical markers to come
The deadline for the Longaberger Legacy Initiative is Sept. 30.
By SHERRI L. SHAULIS
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
John Glenn will never be able to appreciate it if a marker from the Ohio Historical Society is ever erected in his honor.
As long as the former astronaut and U.S. senator who hails from Ohio is alive, there can be no official marker honoring his birthplace, hometown or achievements.
It's just one of the stipulations the Ohio Historical Society places on approving applications for the markers that dot the Buckeye State's landscape: They are not awarded to feature people who are still living.
Nor are they awarded to honor events that are not historically relevant or to historical locations that are considered questionable, said Kristina Markel, field service specialist with the society.
Markel is one of three people in the society who approve applications for the markers. There are about 600 throughout the state, she said.
More than 200 applications were received so far this year.
"They started with the state's sesquicentennial anniversary in 1953," she said. "It is really a grass-roots program, where people nominate topics that are significant historically."
Individuals or groups can apply for the markers, which are created exclusively for the state by Sewah Studios in Marietta.
The company also creates similar markers for other states but has patented the design used for Ohio's markers.
The double-sided brown signs feature text in raised gold lettering and are adorned with an outline of the state and a cluster of buckeyes and leaves. The names of the sign's sponsor can be included.
"They cost an average of about $1,500, but for what you get, it's pretty reasonable," Markel said. "They are meant to last forever."
In 1998, the Longaberger family, which operates Longaberger Basket Co. in Newark, set up a fund of $100,000 for people to use toward the purchase of the markers.
Through the Longaberger Legacy Initiative, the money is distributed by the state's bicentennial commission. A 12-member panel chooses the recipients.
The deadline for the Longaberger fund is Sept. 30, she said, but that doesn't mean more markers will not be issued.
Sponsors can work to raise donors or can foot the bill themselves, Markel said.
They also must fill out a four-page application that details where the marker will go, who or what it will honor, who owns the property where the marker will be placed and the text that will be featured.
Applications must also include supporting research documenting the subject.
Markel and her co-workers review the applications and check the facts of the text for accuracy before approving any application.
The number of approvals is expected to increase in the next year as Ohio's bicentennial approaches.
The state marks its 200th birthday in 2003.
"We are looking at getting more topical markers," she said, noting that they will highlight everything from the Civil War to pop culture throughout the state.
More than 200 should be erected within the next year, she said.
Anyone interested in applying for a marker can call the local history office of the Ohio Historical Society at (800) 858-6878.