State Representative Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) is pleased to announce the Ohio House’s passage of House Bill 36, legislation that memorializes three important individuals from Southern Ohio.
House Bill 36 would name the bridge slated to replace the Ironton-Russell Bridge after Oakley C. Collins, a long-time public servant and former state legislator. Collins served in the Ohio Legislature for 37 years. He served as the chair and the ranking member of the Senate Education Committee for decades. While in the Legislature, he advocated for legislation that created Ohio’s vocational school system and for legislation that implemented Ohio’s use of fluoridated tap water.
“Oakley Collins was a charismatic individual who came from humble beginnings and earned votes the old fashioned way—by representing his district well and forming strong, positive personal relationships,” said Johnson. “He was a dedicated public servant and excelled at seemingly every interest he pursued.”
The two roads would be named after Branch Rickey and Boone Coleman. The “Boone Coleman Memorial Highway” would be located along the stretch of Route 52 that goes past Boone Coleman Construction Company. The Branch Rickey Memorial Highway would be located along US Route 23 between the city limits of Lucasville and Portsmouth.
“Branch Rickey was a towering figure in Scioto County and in Major League Baseball,” said Johnson. “He changed baseball in so many positive and lasting ways. And Boone was a symbol of progress and prosperity for us in Southern Ohio. His heart was as big as his trucks. His equipment and workers were always moving, always building.”
A similar bill to House Bill 36 was introduced last General Assembly as well but did not make it into law. This time, House Bill 36 received added support from a group of Southern Ohio residents who came in to testify in committee.
“We were very blessed to have baseball legends Al Oliver and Gene Bennett testify in committee on the Branch Rickey Memorial Highway. We had Billy Whitaker testify on Boone Coleman, and Judge Oakley Collins Jr., Judge Charles Cooper, Dr. Bill Dingus, J.P. Kaiser, and Robert van Keuren from Lawrence County were there supporting Collins. We showed strong community support, and that was crucial in getting this bill passed.”
The bill passed by a vote of 93-0 and will now be sent to the Ohio Senate.