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OHIO LEGISLATURE Capital bill passes House panel



Published: Wed, January 26, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Youngstown State University would get the largest chunk of state cash.

COLUMBUS -- The Mahoning Valley would receive $2 million for the convocation center in downtown Youngstown, and the Youngstown Business Incubator would get $750,000 for a new market ready incubator.

Those are but two of the area projects that would get money under the two-year, $1.5 billion state capital bill that passed a House Finance Committee vote Tuesday.

The biggest recipient of state money in the Valley, however, would be Youngstown State University, which would get about $9.6 million for a variety of projects, including the new recreation and wellness center.

Meanwhile, improvement projects at Stambaugh Hall and Powers Auditorium would get $250,000 each in state funding in the bill, introduced Tuesday in the state Legislature.

The funding levels in the bill represent a little less than half of the $4.5 million requested by state lawmakers for the convocation center, half of the $2 million requested for the business incubator and a portion of the $1.7 million requested for the Stambaugh and $1.6 million sought for the Powers improvements.

But at least two Valley lawmakers said they're happy the region will receive funding.

& quot;This is very good in these trying times, & quot; said state Rep. Sylvester Patton, a Youngstown Democrat who sits on the House Finance Committee that overwhelmingly approved the bill. The measure now moves to the House floor for consideration, likely today, majority House Republicans said.

& quot;It's really a star for our area in a very limited capital bill, & quot; said state Rep. Kenneth A. Carano, an Austintown Democrat.

City officials and developers are overseeing the construction of a 5,500-seat, $41 million convocation center between the Market Street and South Avenue bridges in Youngstown. If the state funding is approved, developers will have to work with the Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission to receive the funding.

'Closer to reality'

Meanwhile, officials have been trying to develop a market-ready incubator next to the Youngstown Business Incubator.

Mark A. Brown, Youngstown Incubator board member, said the additional money contained in this bill would bring construction of a second incubator building in downtown Youngstown "closer to reality."

At the Henry H. Stambaugh Auditorium, officials had been seeking to make physical improvements to the interior and the exterior of the facility.

Officials are also building a $4.2 million 600-seat pavilion adjacent to Powers Auditorium at Federal and Chestnut streets in downtown Youngstown.

In Trumbull County, a renovation project for Packard Music Hallin Warren would get $100,000 in the capital bill while the Ward-Thomas Museum in Niles would receive $30,000 in state funding.

In Columbiana County, the Columbiana County Port Authority would get $875,000 in the capital bill. Officials there had been seeking $1.2 million for a computer network operations center at the port authority's World Trade Park in Leetonia.

Construction dominates

Most of the money in the capital bill would go for construction, renovation and maintenance projects at state colleges and universities, mental-health and retardation facilities, state government buildings and state parklands.

If approved by the House, the proposed capital bill would move to the Senate for consideration likely next week. It would have to be signed by the governor to become law. Legislative leaders have said they expect the bill to go through the approval process without any major changes.




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