Canton Repository

November 8, 2003

Watkins could get name on post office

By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley Washington correspondent

WASHINGTON — Canton Mayor Richard D. Watkins would lend his name to the city’s main post office under a bill that Rep. Ralph Regula is pushing.

The measure, which has passed the House, would designate the post office at 2650 Cleveland Ave. NW, in Canton as the Richard D. Watkins Post Office Building.

“I think he’s given the community a lot of dedicated service,” said Regula, R-Bethlehem Township. “He’s been a commissioner, a councilman, a mayor, and I think he deserves to be recognized for the excellent service he’s provided the people of the Canton community and Stark County.”

“That’s a great honor, but I’m rather surprised,” Watkins said when asked for his reaction.

Watkins, 73, said he had heard “rumors” that Regula was working on getting something named after him, but he said he did not know it was a post office.

“I just heard some conversations (from) different sources that I really prefer not to reveal because it’s based only on conversation and rumors,” he said.

Regula is chief sponsor of the bill, which was co-sponsored by all 17 other members of the House from Ohio.

Watkins, a Republican in a city that’s largely Democrat, will retire as mayor at the end of the year. He served 12 years on Canton City Council, eight years as a county commissioner and 12 years as mayor.

Regula said he‘s sure the bill will pass in the Senate, where it has the support of Sen. George Voinovich, R-Cleveland, a member of the Governmental Affairs Committee, which will prepare the legislation.

In a statement inserted in the Congressional Record, Regula praised Watkins as a leader who cares about people.

“I think perhaps the best example involved his efforts to establish the Canton Community Clinic,” Regula said. The free health-care facility, which has served 35,000 people since 1994, “is a beacon light of help to many people who otherwise would not have had access to health services,” Regula said.

Regula commended Watkins for the “aesthetic appeal of downtown ... (which) has been immeasurably enhanced by his actions as the mayor.”