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Published: Saturday, 7/5/2008

Swearing in of citizens at South Bass is canceled

BY CHAUNCEY ALCORN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

PORT CLINTON - Northwest Ohioans planning to catch a ferry yesterday to South Bass Island's Put-in-Bay and meet the newest batch of U.S. citizens during a naturalization ceremony instead were met with signs informing them the event was canceled.

Neither U.S. District Court officials nor administrators of Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial on South Bass Island could explain why.

Judge James Carr, who presides over the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, and was to swear in yesterday's new citizens, said the ceremony was canceled more than a week ago.

"We were asked to postpone it for this year by the new [Perry's Monument] administration," Judge Carr said. "Judge George C. Smith from the Southern District of Ohio contacted me and asked me if we could not hold it this year. He just said it'd be a better idea if we probably didn't have it. I think we are having it July 20, but I'm not sure where."

Judge Smith could not be reached for comment.

Marcus Hathaway, acting superintendent at Perry's monument, said park administrators were not the ones who decided to cancel the ceremony this year.

"We were called by the [Northern District] court and they informed us they were canceling it," he said. "I asked them why, and they said they were having problems coordinating the judge's schedule. They canceled it, not us."

Neither Judge Carr nor Mr. Hathaway could provide a reason for the cancellation, but Mr. Hathaway said lack of finances may have been a factor.

"I'd [previously] gotten a call from the [Northern District] court, asking if we could assist them financially with getting people over here for the ceremony," he said. "At that point, I suggested that typically Jet Express has paid for people coming over on their ferry. I got a phone call earlier saying the ferry could not do that this year."

But Jet Express Owner Todd Blumensaadt said his company had every intention of transporting the ceremony's participants to Perry's Victory.

"About a month ago I was asked about tickets for the naturalization ceremony and I said, 'yeah no problem,'•" he said.

Mr. Blumensaadt was puzzled as well when he was informed later by one of his employees that the event was canceled, he said. "We actually had that all set up to give them," he said. "No one told me why. It just was canceled."



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