The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

October 10, 2012

Tourist center will be staffed after all

By MARK TODD - mtodd@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

CONNEAUT — Despite a report issued late last week, people will remain on duty at the tourist information center inside the Interstate 90 rest stop in Conneaut, an Ohio Department of Transporta-tion official confirmed Tuesday.

While the status of the employees has changed because of a new collective bargaining agreement, the state has no plans of shutting down the tourism office inside the rest stop, said Tony Urankar, ODOT District 4 deputy director. “Nothing’s changing,” he said Tuesday.

Late last week, an ODOT spokesman said the three workers at the center became District 4 employees this week and would be reassigned to other duties in the area. As a result, no one would be at the rest area to answer questions or distribute literature, he said.

Urankar clarified the situation on Tuesday. Because of a new contract that took effect Sunday, the information center workers now have the right to seek out other jobs available through the ODOT outpost, located on Seven Hills Road in Plymouth Township.

Workers merely have the option to apply for other positions, but can stay at the information center if they choose, Urankar said.

Regardless of how the staffing shakes out, the tourist information center component of the rest area will remain open, Urankar said. “At this point we’ll keep two or three people,” he said.

Ward 2 City Councilman Phil Garcia, a big proponent of the information center, said Tuesday he was pleased to hear the office will remain open, but added the state should’ve shared the employees’ new work status with the city.

A tourist information center has been located in the rest area since it opened in the early 1990s.