Seneca County voters deflate efforts to save courthouse

SENECA COUNTY -- Efforts to save a controversial northwest Ohio courthouse suffered a major setback on primary day. Voters in Seneca County defeated a bond issue by a two-to-one margin, reports News 11's Dick Berry.

Supporters of the courthouse now don't know if the building can be saved from demolition.

"We're like the boxer in the ring. The count is at nine. Do we get up for the tenth or lay there and take it?" speculates Teresa Sullivan, who's on the Save Our Courthouse committee.

Voters overwhelmingly turned down an $8.5 million bond issue to save and restore the historic 1884 building. Ohio Governor Ted Strickland had promised $2 mllion in state aid if the measure passed.

"We tried to let it be known that restoration would be cheaper than new construction, but obviously the voters didn't see it that way," said Sullivan.

Seneca County commissioners promised voters that if the measure passed, they would not collect the new tax. They needed approval as backing for lower interest rates on bonds sold for the project.

Seneca County Commissioner Ben Nutter says as far as he's concerned, the voters have spoken. He expects the board will begin accepting demolition bids within 30 days.

Plans are also in the works to build a new courthouse at the same site.

Posted by KO