Tuesday, November 3, 2009


On April 4, 2009 Stark County commissioner Pete Ferguson (Democrat - elected in November, 2008) announced he was going to use his "Department of Defense" contacts to try and get the formerly known "Doctors Hospital" (Perry Township) closed in 2008 converted into a veterans medical treatment facility.

At the time, the SCPR wrote skeptically of Ferguson's effort because of his reference to Department of Defense contacts.  The SCPR believed then and continues to believe that the Department of Defense contacts reference is fanciful.

Putting that aside, Ferguson proposal is an excellent idea.

At the October 28th commissioners meeting Ferguson read a letter (see video below) written by Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray (and referred to a letter written by Ohio treasurer Kevin Boyce) to US Department of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki promoting a veterans hospital at the former Doctors Hospital facility.


Okay, so Cordray and Boyce are not Department of Defense officials.  They are somebody.  Of course, it would have been nice for Ferguson's Department of Defense contacts. if they exist, to come front and center.  But apparently they were unavailable.

And there is US Senator Sherrod Brown is weighing in. (reference:  county administrator Michael Hanke's remarks in the video).

Is somebody missing?  How about Congressman John Boccieri.  Undoubtedly, he is in the mix.  Ferguson must have forgotten him.

So what does Cordray, Boyce, presumably Boccieri and Brown do for Ferguson and his idea?

It remains to be seen.

Commissioner Harmon was back-slapping happy about the letter and catigated those who "scoffed" at Ferguson's April 4th initiative.

Apparently, Harmon was referring to the SCPR's skepticism of the Department of Defense (DOD) factor.

If so, the skepticism remains.

The SCPR hopes, whether or not the Ferguson effort ends up getting "his friends" at the DOD involved, he is successful on bringing veteran medical care to Stark County.  For if he succeeds, Ferguson's "name dropping" will have been amusing but inconsequential.

A primary role the SCPR has taken on is to goad Bosley, Ferguson and Harmon into action bringing jobs, jobs and more jobs to Stark County.

Bosley's BioMass idea with Chevron has real promise to bring some temporary construction jobs to Stark along with significant annual heating cost savings to the county in its operation of the Stark County jail.

Harmon's adoption of Elizabeth Burick's idea of a horse show arena at the Stark County fairgrounds is a start, but way too limited as presently conceived. The SCPR has long pushed Harmon to something - anything - moving on economic development.  If he will carry it further and make it a multi-year project that sees the Stark County Fairgrounds take on the dimensions of what the folks in Clarke County have done.

A Burick-magnified project - many times over - might be a Harmon legacy in the making.

Maybe one of these days we will be celebrating the renaming of the Stark County Fairgrounds to the Harmon Agricultural Expo Center.

Back to Doctor Ferguson.

What will become of Ferguson's initiative?

It's hard to say.

But the SCPR applauds his work to bring this project to reality even if his referenced DOD contacts are likely ghosts of the past which have long ago evaporated.

Cordray and Boyce are state politicians who have tough statewide races coming up next year and are only too happy to put their names to paper for the publicity of it.  It doesn't hurt to have had them write letters.  But really Commissioner Ferguson?

How much weight does he think this duo is going to carry with Shinseki?

Brown is a different story.  He, by far, is the most important person in the mix.  He will be in office for at least four more years to devote time and effort to the fruition of this idea.

Hanke's contribution of making the point that Brown has two staffers working on Ferguson's idea is the most significant of all that was said at the October 28th meeting.

Here is the video of Ferguson reading the Cordray letter on October 28th:

The SCPR says go, go, go Doctor Peter Ferguson!

Show me, show me and show me!

What a prospect for Stark County:  "The Bosley BioMass Demonstration Project of Stark County," "The Harmon Expo Center," and last but certainly not least "The Ferguson Memorial Veterans Hospital!"

These times demand county commissioners who are visionary, persistent and productive in turning their ideas into "real" jobs for Stark Countians.

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