MIDDLEPORT — The Meigs County Pioneer and Historical Society has encountered some difficulties with their proposed levy initiative for the May 3 ballot. As a result, the levy will officially be withdrawn from voter consideration early next week.
Due to changes made by the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, the proposal reads Meigs County Levy instead of Meigs County Pioneer and Historical Society Levy.
According to Museum Director Mary Cowdery, both she and the society board are concerned that voters will not know who the levy is for, and plan to withdraw it from the May ballot.
Cowdery went on to say the levy submitted for the 2022 ballot had the exact wording of the 2019 proposal. Since that levy was not approved by voters, the board had decided it was time for another attempt.
The proposal had been approved by the Meigs County Commissioners before the filing deadline and sent to the secretary of state’s office for placement on the May ballot.
According to the Meigs County Board of Elections (BOE), the reason they were given for the change by the secretary of state’s office was, “it was not reflective to the resolution, and so marked off the proposed ballot language”.
According to additional information given to the Meigs County Board of Elections by the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, the levy was “approved to form by the State because they couldn’t find the statute in the ORC that it pertained to.”
The Meigs BOE advised the society that the levy could remain on the ballot, but the decision has been made to withdraw it from voter consideration. The levy will still appear on the ballot as it is too late to make any physical changes, but once the levy is officially withdrawn, the BOE will post signs indicating the deletion of the levy. Paperwork for the removal is expected early next week, but until that time, the BOE cannot advise voters of any changes.
Cowdery indicated they are very disappointed and frustrated, and said, “We did all the work in 2019 to make sure the levy had the proper wording, and it was placed on the ballot as submitted at that time, with changes only to the date. This time, the secretary of state’s office took “Pioneer and Historical Society and Museum” out of the levy title. There just isn’t enough time and resources to inform voters, so we decided to withdraw it from the ballot and try again in the fall.”
So, what does that mean for future levy proposals?
“We thought everything was in order,” said Cowdery. “We were not given a chance to explain or correct any of the information before the secretary of state’s office made the decision to omit the title of our organization.”
She said this time they are still trying to understand what will need to be changed or included to meet the secretary of state’s requirements to avoid a recurrence.
“We were counting on the levy’s passage to assist with operating and development costs,” Cowdery said. “Now we will just have to wait longer for additional funds, and some of our buildings just won’t wait for repairs,” she said in reference to the collapse of the roof the former Ford Building, part of the museum. “Thank goodness we didn’t have anything of value in that building. We knew it needed a new roof, but we didn’t have the funds to replace it, and now we have lost most of it.”
She said in order for the society’s mission of “Preserving Meigs County’s Past for the next generation,” to be achieved, funding and additional volunteers are desperately needed.
“The museum is for everyone,” Cowdery said. “It contains so much of our county’s history; it is something to remind us of what we have accomplished and of what we can achieve in the future.”
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Lorna Hart is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing.