July 31, 2014

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Lorain honors airman, renames street

LORAIN — Over a year after lobbying began, a street is being renamed for Air Force Airman 1st Class Eric Barnes.

City Council members at their Monday meeting approved renaming Osborn Avenue from West 11th Street to South Lakeview Boulevard as Eric Barnes Avenue.

Barnes, 20, was killed in 2007 by a roadside bomb in Iraq after volunteering to ride in a supply truck in a convoy.

Three years later, while serving a tour with the Ohio Air National Guard, Dan McBennett saw the road sign outside the firehouse at the Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait, named after Barnes. McBennett, a Lorain firefighter, didn’t know Barnes, but he had taken part in the funeral service for Barnes when thousands lined the streets of Lorain.

McBennett, a member of the Mansfield-based Ohio Air National Guard’s 179th Airlift Wing, said he got “chills” when he saw the sign and made a replica for Barnes’ parents Tom and Shari Barnes. When he returned from Kuwait, he lobbied Council members to rename a Lorain street for Barnes, a 2004 Admiral King High School graduate.

“I thought something should be done,” McBennett said.

The proposal initially stalled due to concerns by some Council members and the administration of then-Mayor Tony Krasienko that a formal process needed to be established to rename roads after local soldiers killed in wars. The delay angered Shari Barnes who criticized Council members in 2011. She noted that in addition to the street in Kuwait, one at the F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyo., was also named after her son.

However, Barnes was happy Monday after the approval and thanked Mayor Chase Ritenauer for his efforts. “We know Eric would be proud,” she said.

Barnes and several other local soldiers killed in Iraq and the Afghanistan wars also are memorialized at Eric Barnes Heroes Walk, a small trail by Settlers Watch and the Admiral King Memorial off Hamilton Street.

In other business:

• City Treasurer Karen Shawver said about  $18.6 million in taxes were collected last year. About $18.8 million was collected in 2011 and nearly $16.8 million in 2010.

•Councilman Eddie Edwards, D-6th, asked councilmembers to compile a list of parks in their wards that could be sold. Edwards said some of Lorain’s 56 parks are in disrepair and too costly to maintain. “We could save ourselves and the residents some money and some headaches too,” he said.

•Ritenauer announced Lorain will be divided into four parts for cutting of high lawns at abandoned homes or homes where residents haven’t mowed them. Bids will be sought for multiple contractors. The high number of un-mowed properties swamped contractors and Street Department workers last summer.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.