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Athens City Council meets on the Tuesday after Labor Day, Sept. 6, 2022.

City council met to discuss organized crime task force, national forest name change

Athens City Council met Monday to discuss allowing the Service Safety Director Andy Stone to join an organized crime task force and changing the name of Wayne National Forest.

The ordinance joining an organized crime task force will allow police from Athens to collaborate to investigate crimes with Morgan, Noble, Monroe, Meigs and Washington counties, Councilmember Micah McCarey, D-At Large, said.

“When we have investigations involved, to be across county lines, it's really helpful to have task forces that have individuals assigned to share information with one another and assist in investigations,” McCarey said.

He said he has seen many similar agreements, including allowing collaboration with other police departments to bring additional officers for Halloween.

The specific agreement will allow collaboration on organized crime investigations related to murder, money laundering, human trafficking and the cultivation of marijuana, McCarey said. The cultivation of marijuana might not apply if Issue 2 passes in the Nov. 7 election – making it legal in Ohio.

The council gave an update about the movement to change the name of Wayne National Forest. The forest is named after Anthony Wayne, an American general from the 1700s, who was involved in the founding of America but was also involved in a violent campaign to remove American Indians from their land in Ohio, according to a Wayne National Forest news release. 

Christine Knisley, city council president, said the council received a call from the Wayne National Forest supervisor, Lee Stewart, who acknowledged Athens City Council’s suggestion to rename the forest to Buckeye National Forest.

Knisley said Stewart received over 1,200 responses to change the name and had consulted with 40 Indian tribes; 12 of these tribes are actively participating in the process. Stewart told Knisley he has not come to a decision yet but is hoping to by November.

“November is Indigenous Peoples’ Month in the United States. So, it'd be really fitting to accomplish it by that time,” Athens mayor Steve Patterson said.


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