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Members of the Athens City Council during council's meeting on Jan. 16. (FILE)

City Council: Members oppose closing of Hocking Correctional Unit

Correction appended.

Athens City Council passed a resolution Monday night opposing the closing of the Hocking Correctional Unit in Nelsonville and urging the state government to work with local governments to lessen the impact of it closing.

The Hocking Unit costs $11.5 million to operate with 430 inmates and 110 staff members, according to a previous Post report.

Nelsonville will lose $340,000 because of that action.

“That would be like stripping away our last local government fund,” Athens Mayor Stever Patterson. “That would be crushing a lot of programs.”

Members also approved an ordinance that establishes Title 49 in the Athens City Code to codify initiative petitions created by citizens, such as The Athens Cannabis Ordinance.

Members discussed an ordinance authorizing design engineering of the Stimson Avenue improvement project. The project could cost anywhere between $2.5 million to $4.5 million and will begin in 2020.

The City of Athens received a $2.1 million to $2.2 million grant from the Small Cities grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation for that project.

Members also approved an ordinance that will authorize Patterson to apply for the Small Cities grant this year.

Members heard from the Athens Municipal Arts Commission because it has selected a new poet laureate, Kari Gunter-Seymour. The poet laureate will introduce Athens to poetry and spoken word venues and publish the community’s poetry in a book, “Expressively Athens.”

“When people think of art in Athens, I want them to think of poetry as well,” Gunter-Seymour said. 

Members also discussed an ordinance that authorizes the service-safety director to enter into a state project agreement with ODOT for a bridge deck overlay project on U.S. Route 33.

“They are 100 percent responsible for the project, but it happens to fall within our city borders,” Athens City Councilman Peter Kotses, D-At Large, said.


Correction: A previous version of this report misstated how much money Nelsonville will lose. The article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.

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