Downtown's top attractions? This one is often overlooked


Some items while wishing members of the all-male Augusta National Golf Club would realize they look like a bunch of Neanderthals (stubborn Neanderthals at that):

SOURCE OF PRIDE: As I've mentioned before, the overnight package for all out-of-town visitors to the Lemmon household includes, at no extra charge, a driving tour of metropolitan Toledo.

Operating on the premise that you only get one chance to make a first impression, the standard tour starts in Sylvania and makes its way to Ottawa Hills and the Old West End before winding up downtown.

I'm thinking about reversing the tour route this year because, unfortunately, our ghost town-like downtown is what makes the lasting impression.

As far as I'm concerned, the view of the skyline from International Park should be the tour's highlight. But to get there, we have to drive past countless vacant buildings and the city's biggest eyesore -- the 55-year-old Sports Arena.

And even though Fifth Third Field is a $39 million gem, it's not like Toledo is the only city with a downtown baseball stadium.

So this tour guide doesn't take it personally when the skyline and stadium receive ho-hum treatment from visitors.

What consistently piques their interest, I've discovered, is Owens Corning's headquarters.

A nationally known company. A building that commands more than just a glance. Yes, there's something to be said about a Fortune 500 company calling your city home.

While I wouldn't call Owens Corning the corporate model for community involvement, Toledo is fortunate to be associated with a firm of this stature. It allows us to name-drop with a sense of pride, just like we do with Jeep.

Toledo needs Owens Corning more than Owens Corning needs Toledo; so I'm glad the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority's board of directors didn't engage in a game of chicken with the bankrupt company.

In voting to sacrifice $18 million in future income, the port board -- at the urging of Toledo Mayor Jack Ford -- treated OC with the respect it deserves. Now, unless a federal bankruptcy court rules otherwise, the tenant at 1 Owens Corning Parkway will be the same for decades to come.

It would have been a civic embarrassment had Owens Corning been forced to abandon its headquarters because the port board played hardball. Hopefully, OC's creditors will agree to the terms.

If OC is forced to move to another location, I know one tour guide who will dread explaining what happened.

TWIN PACK: Two slanted questions this week. To commemorate the number of days since President Bush declared he wanted Osama bin Laden “dead or alive,” I'm offering 567 points for each correct answer. (Note: Click on the links below and check out reader response to previous questions.)

1) Why would Ohio lawmakers pat themselves on the back for introducing a bill that would require prison time for a sixth DUI conviction? (Shouldn't three convictions be enough to trigger mandatory incarceration?)

2) Won't this be the defining decision of George W. Bush's presidency: Once we wrap things up in Iraq, will he focus on our ailing economy or turn his attention to the other two members of the “axis of evil” (North Korea and Iran)?