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Stryker residents flip-flop on jail signs

STRYKER - “This Way To The Jail.''

Signs pointing toward the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio likely will be more formally lettered, but that's the message area residents want motorists to get.

For 10 years, not a single road sign has provided directions to the regional prison, because residents in the nearby countryside wanted it that way.

That's about to change. Signs will be erected showing the way to the regional jail. The reason: People who live in the southeast corner of Williams County and in the town of Stryker say they are weary of giving directions to lost visitors.

“They pull in the driveway and ask, `How do we get to the jail?' I tell them, `Take the next right and there it is,''' Wendy Greutman said.

Mrs. Greutman and her husband, Jeff, live on State Rt. 34, just around the corner from CCNO.

A neighbor, Michael Freeman, formally contacted the regional jail to get the signs. “He said he was tired of having people stop at his residence to get directions,'' said Jim Dennis, CCNO executive director.

It wasn't always that way. When the facility was built in 1990, residents in the area requested that no directional signs show the way to the regional jail, which houses inmates from the city of Toledo and Lucas, Fulton, Williams, Henry, and Defiance counties. Each share the cost of running the jail.

“They wished us to be as nonrecognizable as possible and we respected residents' wishes, “ Mr. Dennis said.

“People did not even want us to paint CCNO on the water tower,'' said Scott Bradbee, the center's director of support services. “Now, people have spoken to our Citizens Advisory Committee and to Mr. Dennis asking for signs.”

Springfield Township trustees have given their approval to the sign project.

Trustee Ed Ruffer acknowledged there has been a change in attitude toward the jail in a decade.

“It was a hot issue when it was built here. A lot of people didn't want a prison here at all,'' Mr. Ruffer said. “Some people still are not happy about it being here but it's not a big issue any more.

“We welcome any signs that help people get to the facility without making wrong turns and getting lost. A lot of people come out to visit inmates. But they don't know these country roads and they drive all around looking for the place,'' he said.

He said he often has drivers from Toledo and elsewhere pulling into his residence about a mile from the center.

So, too, do people in Stryker, five miles away.

Many people, out to visit inmates, stop in the U.S. Post Office to ask the way, said clerk Kelly Myers.

“How often? Every day,'' she said. “They're not familiar with this area and even if they get close to it, CCNO is not easy to see, especially in summer when the corn is high.''

Further south at the Stryker Main Stop store, manager Kathy Lloyd said she and the clerks there guide many a driver to facility.

“People stop all the time and ask how to get to the Stryker jail, “ she said.

“You mean the `Stryker Hilton,' that's what I call it,'' said a store patron who preferred to remain nameless. “You could stand here on the corner and give directions all day long.''

Mr. Dennis said he did not know when signs would be erected or who would do the work. At least two will be posted, at the corner of State Rt. 34 and County Road 24.25 and at State Rt. 66 and County Road 24, he said.

Williams County officials and the state highway department will be involved in discussions, he said.

Since the jail opened in June, 1990, more than 86,000 inmates have been booked into the state-of-the-art facility. It was the first regional jail to be built in Ohio.

The low, gray and pink brick structure is partially obscured by a hill. It has high fencing with double barbed-wire coils at one end to identify it as a prison.

“We look more like a school, which is what was intended,'' Mr. Bradbee said.

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