By DENISE GRANT
State Sen. Cliff Hite and state Rep. Robert Sprague announced Monday that area flood-control efforts are in line for more state funding.
Sprague said Ohio will earmark $4 million for flood-control construction in Ottawa. That is in addition to $3 million already committed by the state for flood-control efforts.
Under initial recommendations from the Army Corps of Engineers, Ottawa would modify the embankment for the I-9 bridge, which acts like a dam during floods, backing up water toward the village.
A diversion channel in the area of the I-9 bridge would also stop the Blanchard River from meandering in the area of the bridge during floods.
The state legislators, both Findlay Republicans, made the announcement at Findlay’s downtown Kan Du art studio.
Monday’s announcement came just days after Gov. John Kasich revealed that his $2.4 billion state construction budget includes money for both the Marathon Center for the Performing Arts and the Kan Du Community Art Center project in Findlay.
A total of $800,000 is being budgeted for the new performing arts center. Kan Du will receive $300,000.
The governor’s newly-formed Capital Arts & Culture Committee recommended both for funding. The committee received 170 applications, with requests approaching $200 million. A total of $33 million in projects were recommended to the governor. Ten projects are in northwestern Ohio.
Kan Du is an extension of Blanchard Valley Industries, Hancock County’s work habilitative program for adults with developmental disabilities. The studio offers a boutique setting for artwork to be created, displayed and sold.
The concept of art as employment for individuals with disabilities is relatively new. Kan Du opened in 2007.
Kan Du will use the money from the state to move to a new location with the goal of establishing a community visual arts center. If successful, it would be the first studio of its kind in the nation that fully integrates artists with developmental disabilities with other artists from the community.
Hite said the governor’s announcement about the funding for both the Marathon Center and Kan Du gave him “goose bumps.”
Sprague said it was Hite who sat down with the governor to talk about Findlay’s vision for the arts.
“This shows you how important it is to have a senator from our area,” Sprague said.
Sprague said when he was growing up in Findlay, the performing arts were a big part of his childhood. As an adult, Sprague said he has worked to expose his own children to the “big city” experience of the performing arts. Now that experience is coming to Findlay, he said.
Anne Buis, a volunteer with the Marathon Center, said ideas about cross-promoting the two centers are being discussed. She said there must be “endless ways” for the centers to interact.
Erika Miklovic, Kan Du director, said the visual arts center project combines both her passions: Kan Du and Findlay artists. Miklovic was named director of Kan Du a year ago.
Connie Ament, superintendent of Blanchard Valley Center, said Kan Du is an example of how best to integrate people with developmental disabilities into the community where they work, live and go to school.
“It enriches the lives of everyone involved. I have seen it so many times, people want to give, so they come to work with individuals with disabilities, and find that they receive so much more. It goes both ways, and Kan Du is a very good example of that.”