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Published: Sunday, 11/2/2008

Local voters get one last chance to revive Toledo science museum

BY ALEX M. PARKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Isabella Frownfelter, 11, of Flint, Mich., takes the high-wire bicycle for a whirl during COSI s last day of operation in December, 2007. The downtown science museum has remained closed. Isabella Frownfelter, 11, of Flint, Mich., takes the high-wire bicycle for a whirl during COSI s last day of operation in December, 2007. The downtown science museum has remained closed.
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COSI, which operated in downtown Toledo for more than 10 years, has one final shot to convince voters for support, leaders say.

After failing twice, museum organizers are pulling out all of the stops spending at least $167,200 raised from private donations in a campaign to persuade Lucas County voters to reopen the museum.

Science and technology is the base of our work force. It s where we re going, where our country is going, and where our county is going, said Lori Hauser, the museum s director of operations. COSI is around to spark a wonder in science and math and also to get people excited in this field.

Issue 37, the additional five-year, 0.17-mill levy request, would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $5.21 a year, according to the county auditor. It would bring in $1.25 million annually for the science center s operations, according to levy advocates.

Local businesses such as Owens Corning, First Solar Inc., Xunlight Corp., and BP PLC s Toledo Refinery all said they would not only help fund the levy campaign but would also assist the museum once it opens with new exhibits.

It s a quality of life issue, not just for Toledo, but for all of Lucas County, Maumee Mayor Tim Wagener said.

COSI officials are sticking to a pledge they made during the last levy campaign in 2007 that, if reopened, the museum would have free admission for children from Lucas County on Saturdays, if they are accompanied by an adult.

The museum opened in 1997 and closed in December, 2007.

If the levy does not pass, Ms. Hauser said it would close permanently and its exhibits would be shipped to other museums.

• OTHER ISSUES

Along with COSI, Lucas County voters will consider Issue 38, a five-year, 1-mill replacement levy for the Lucas County Children Services Board.

The levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $30.63 per year, up from $24.17 a year such a homeowner pays today.

We re good stewards of the taxpayers dollars, said Dean Sparks, executive director of Lucas County Children Services.

The levy would bring in $9.8 million annually for the board, and Mr. Sparks said that without it, the agency would have to cut back.

We don t ever want to make decisions about the safety of children based on finances, Mr. Sparks said.

With Issue 39, the Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Board is pushing for a continuing 4-mill replacement levy. The levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $109.22 per year, rather than the $76.06 such an owner pays now.

Rod Standiford, president of the MRDD board, said the board has used its levy funding to help bring back federal dollars.

For every 40 cents we bring back, we get 60 cents on the dollar, Mr. Standiford. It goes back to service for some for the most vulnerable population in our community.

Voters also will decide Issue 40, a 10-year, 1-mill replacement levy for the Lucas County Board of Mental Health and Recovery Services.

If passed, the levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $30.63 a year, rather than the $19.41 a year that such ahomeowner pays today.

Issue 40 will ensure that psychiatric treatment and substance abuse treatment will continue to be available for those with the greatest need, and the least ability to pay, said Jacqueline Martin, executive director of the agency.

Contact Alex M. Parker at: aparker@theblade.comor 419-724-6107.



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