Monday, March 11, 2013

Third Street: Thick as Thieves

Third Street: Hatcherville

Third Street

      Shawnee State University doesn’t have a master plan as much as a master plot. By plot I mean not “a measured area of land,” but rather “a secret plan, a scheme.” The plot was to enrich a local lawyer, Clayton Johnson, and his partner in crime, a local developer, Neal Hatcher, by giving them sweetheart deals: for example,  taking  the worthless Marting Building off Johnson’s hands, for almost two million dollars, and allowing Hatcher  to build SSU student dormitories in a can’t-lose arrangement. Hatcher  built dormitories on the  northern side of Third Street, a major thoroughfare running through the heart of the university. The dormitories were on one side of Third Street, the classrooms, the administration buildings, the athletic center, the student center, etc., on the other. A hazardous arrangement. 
       Every student who lives in Hatcher’s dormitories plays Jeopardy. They have to to cross heavily trafficked Third Street day and  night, much of the traffic coming from or going to the Grant Bridge. Just the other day a young man from Portsmouth, on a moped,  was killed on the Kentucky side of the bridge, apparently by a driver who reportedly ran a red light. Like most streets in Portsmouth, Third Street speed limits are frequently violated, putting the lives and limbs of students in jeopardy. Now, the university wants to close Third Street and put grade school, middle school, and high school students, just north of Third Street, in jeopardy, making a bad situation even worse.
      Those who might be opposed to the project are dismissed, in a recent PDT editorial, (9 March 2013) as “people who are opposed to anything that brings progress.” Sound familiar? Steve Hayes has been peddling that line at WNXT for years. Where is Steve’s buddy, WSAZ’s Randy Yohe, now that the ruling clique could use Yohe’s support for closing Third Street? But the Can-Can Man was canned after being arrested for drunken driving. Of course, Yohe or no Yohe, the collection of bankrupts and political pawns who make up the Portsmouth City Council will pass the measure to close Third and probably quickly, as the PDT urges in the same editorial, as the council previously acted quickly to unload the Marting building on the taxpayers of Portsmouth. 
      If the most recent editor at the PDT did not support the closing of  Third Street,  it would not be long before he would join the long line of editors and reporters who have  quit or been fired when they failed to please the rich crooks who control the no-longer daily Daily Times  and the city. Now,  the politics are even thicker than they used to be. The Felix of the Odd Couple, Clayton Johnson, has retired, leaving Oscar, Neal Hatcher, holding the money bags alone, prompting Jeff Albrecht, Portsmouth’s preeminent snake oil salesman, to make his move for the Municipal Building, backed by the American Savings Bank in the person of Michael Gampp. Thick as thieves, they are all for closing Third Street, as quickly as possible, whatever the consequences. 

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