Canton Repository

February 14, 2003


 Federal aid earmarked for police, road, airport projects in Stark

By PAUL M. KRAWZAK
Copley Washington correspondent

WASHINGTON — Rep. Ralph Regula, R-Bethlehem Township, said Thursday he has secured millions of dollars in federal aid for projects in Stark County, including $5 million to improve police radio communications that could save lives in the future.

The fatal shooting of Massillon Police Officer Eric B. Taylor in August spurred the search for federal assistance to law enforcement.

Additional earmarked funds will help finance sewer-system improvement in Massillon and North Canton, a new Interstate 77 exit at Shuffel Drive NW in Jackson Township, improvements at Akron-Canton Regional Airport in Green and extension of a scenic railroad to Canton.

The federal grants are part of a $397.4 billion spending bill that will finance government operations until Sept. 30. The House passed the bill Thursday, and the Senate is expected to approve it without changes today.

It was last summer when Regula revealed he was seeking federal aid to link the radio system, allowing different police agencies to communicate directly with each other.

The grant, which goes to the Stark County sheriff, “will be key in preventing situations such as the death of (Taylor) last fall when direct communications with him were not possible to warn him that an armed suspect was in his area,” Regula said.

An improved system also will help first responders in a terrorist attack or similar emergency.

As a “cardinal,” or chairman of an Appropriations subcommittee, Regula has the clout to direct federal spending to projects he likes. He also is vice chairman of the full Appropriations Committee.

Regula earmarked $3 million to extend the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad to Canton. The tourist attraction operates between Independence and Akron. The grant will pay for upgrades to existing track. Service could begin in July after a new rail station is built in downtown Canton.

Another $4 million will help pay for terminal security and gate area expansion at the fast-growing Akron-Canton Regional Airport. Regula put in $1.5 million to help build the Shuffel Drive exit off Interstate 77, which he said would provide easier access to the airport. State and local funds also will be used.

The Massillon and North Canton sewer systems are to receive $900,000 each to help finance improvements in water treatment.