By John Kiesewetter
The Cincinnati Enquirer
LIBERTY TWP. - The Michael A. Fox Highway has come to a dead end. Its name, anyway.
Gov. Bob Taft this month will sign legislation stripping the name of the maverick Butler County commissioner, a fellow Republican, from the highway also known as Ohio 129, said Orest Holubec, Taft's press secretary.
All of Ohio 129 - from Interstate 75 to Indiana - was named Butler County Veterans Highway by legislation quietly approved last month.
"Naming something after a person still active in politics was absolutely wrong," said Sen. Scott Nein, R-Middletown, a longtime Fox foe who introduced the legislation.
He called it "basically a campaign poster" for an incumbent like Fox, who is running for re-election in November.
The highway was named by the Butler County Transportation Improvement District, which built the 11-mile road linking I-75 to Hamilton in 1999.
Fox, of Fairfield Township, initiated legislation to create the district during his 22 years as a state representative.
"Long after my name is removed from the highway, the benefits of the work I did will be felt by residents of Butler County," Fox said Tuesday. "This isn't about his (Nein's) commitment to veterans. This is about his hatred for me."
Nein, co-chairman of Greg Jolivette's aborted attempt to unseat Fox in the March primary, added the provision to a House bill renaming roads in Clark and Coshocton counties. The Senate approved it May 5, and the House acted May 11.
The governor will sign it "in the next two weeks," Holubec said.
Fred Carroll, a Korean War veteran, called the change "a great idea. About every town has a veterans highway."
Said Army veteran Richard Palmer of Middletown:"It's an appropriate honor, a good way to remember those who sacrificed their health, time or life for the county."
Neither man said he had anything against Fox.
"Sometime in the future, Mike Fox's contributions should be recognized," Palmer said.
Nein, whose father served in World War II, said he'll continue pushing a state ban on naming buildings and roads built with public money for a person who has been out of office for less than five years.
"I think people sometimes forget why they ran for office in the first place. They forget who they serve. It wasn't their money," Nein said.
The end of the road for the highway name was the latest blow for Fox, a top GOP vote-getter who has alienated county party leaders.
In the fall, Nein and other Republicans backed Jolivette to challenge Fox. But a bitter primary was prevented when Jolivette, a legislator, swapped jobs with Commissioner Courtney Combs in January.
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