The Ashtabula County Metro Parks is the little engine that could.
With no local tax money to speak of the parks system still has been able to leverage state and federal dollars for worthwhile projects.
Not only does the parks system operate a first-rate paved north-to-south bike/hike trail through the middle of the county it now is being given big bucks to acquire land along Conneaut Creek for steelhead anglers.
The parks system will get $18,650 in state voter-approved NatureWorks money to help buy 35 acres along Conneaut Creek. Ohio's voters first approved the bond-issuing program in 1993 and has proven popular ever since.
Also, the parks system will get another $70,000 in order to expand Conneaut Creek Metro Park under the same 35-acre plan. This latter funding comes from the federal Land Water Conservation Fund, which gets its dollars from offshore oil lease revenues and other non-tax sources.
What all the dollars mean is that Conneaut Creek steelheaders will have more public waters to fish without being hassled by irate private landowners - a situation that is growing more acute, particularly along the Ashtabula River and to a lesser extent, along Conneaut Creek.
While on the subject of Ashtabula County, Wade Dunlap - the Ohio Division of Wildlife officer assigned to the county - is leaving to assume the same duties in Tuscarawas County.
No replacement has been found though a replacement could be named as soon as next week. Until then Dunlap will stick around. Part of the problem in keeping wildlife officers in Ashtabula County is that it is "an extremely demanding county," said one Wildlife Division official.
No way, though, will the county ever be left vacant, in spite of the fact that it is the busiest in the state in terms of TIP line calls.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn