Fundraiser planned for Otway bridge

November 28, 2012

Wayne Allen

PDT Staff Writer

Members of the Otway Historical Society have scheduled their next fundraiser for the Otway Covered Bridge. The event will be a spaghetti dinner, Sunday, Dec. 9, from noon to 5 p.m. at the Otway School Gym.

In August a federal grant of $285,025 was awarded to fund needed repairs and upgrades to the Otway covered bridge. In order to receive the funding, $70,000 needs to be raised by the community as matching funds.

According to the Otway Historical Society, “the Otway covered bridge has been a historical landmark that has attracted people to our county and to the Otway area for many years. However, we often drive by on a regular basis, sometimes without even giving it a glance. It has been a lack of dreams that has allowed the bridge to become in a state of serious disrepair. It is a lack of dreams that threatens the bridge’s very existence for the next generation to enjoy.”

Craig Opperman, Scioto County Engineer, said if the Otway area were to receive a lot of rain, water would get on the bridge and it would likely cause significant damage. In March, a portion of the bridge roof was damaged by an F-0 strength tornado that went through Otway, and also damaged the fire department. According to Otway Mayor Suzanne Nichols the damages to the bridge were estimated at $1,800.

“When the tornado went through (Otway) it did a lot more damage than some people may like to think. Fortunately there was some bracing inside of it, which helped to stabilize it,” Opperman said.

According to The Otway Historical Society, the Scenic Scioto Heritage Trail Committee, the Otway Historical Society, Brush Creek Township Trustees, the Scioto County Commissioners, and the Scioto County Engineer’s Office have come together to work on formulating a plan and applying for grant monies that would allow the bridge to be repaired and preserved.

“If $70,000 can be raised before the upcoming deadline, the grant money will be released and construction to repair and preserve the structure could begin in the spring of 2013. However, if the matching funds ($70,000) are not raised, the grant funding will be lost and the future of the bridge will be in jeopardy,” said Jonathan King, president of the Otway Historical Society.

According to the Scenic Scioto Heritage Trail, the bridge is located southwest of the junction of state routes 73 and 348. The bridge was erected in 1874 and was in use until it was bypassed in 1963. This historic structure is listed on the National Registry and was completely restored by the village of Otway in 1974. What makes the Otway Bridge so unique is that, of the nearly 80 covered bridges that were built in the history of Scioto County, it is the lone survivor.

Opperman said work is being done to raise the necessary matching funds to the project.

“We have not finalized where all of the money is coming from yet. We are getting money from various sources,” Opperman said. “We have applied to various locations for funding. We have applications in through the Ohio Public Works Commission, Ohio Historical Society, Scioto Foundation and various other places.”

Trena Stewart suggested to her fourth grade class at Bloom Vernon Elementary that they bring in their spare change and encouraged them to write letters to the Otway Historical Society. The class gathered their spare change and sent their donation to the society. Members of the Otway Historical Society along with Opperman visited with Stewart’s class. While there, the group made a presentation to the students about the importance of the covered bridge. The society presented the class with a framed picture of the bridge to hang in their classroom.

Tickets for the spaghetti dinner fundraiser on Dec. 9 are $6 for adults and take-out orders; seniors $4 and kids $3. All you can eat $7.

For more information, contact Norval Davis at 740-372-8320, Mike Seaman at 740-372-8888, or Jack Orlett at 740-259-5747, or visit the groups facebook pages “Otway Historical Society and Otway Covered Bridge.”

Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or wallen@heartlandpublications.com.