Ohio agency requests $80K to replace Smokey Bear

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — State officials are seeking to replace the 55-year-old Smokey Bear figure that greets visitors by name at the Ohio State Fair.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is asking the state Controlling Board to approve $80,250 for a new bear. The agency says the current Smokey is in irreparably poor condition.

The panel is slated to vote on the spending request Monday afternoon.

Smokey Bear has promoted the prevention of forest fires at the state fairgrounds since 1959. The 14 1/2-foot figure is part of a display in the natural resources exhibit.

LifeFormations Inc. in Cincinnati has won the bid to build the new Smokey, which the state says would have more capabilities and automated functions.

The agency says it would use a federal grant to help pay for it.

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