Plan to rename street for West Chester’s Corey Hood stalled

Plans to rename a West Chester Twp. road after a local Army parachutist who died during an air show performance have hit a snag.

Trustees, at the urging of a group of residents, planned to rename all or part of Lakota West Drive in honor of Army Master Sgt. Corey Hood, who died in 2015 during a parachuting demonstration with the Army Golden Knights at the Chicago Air and Water Show.

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“You would want to name a street or a building after something you value. I’d like to have people ask, ‘Who was Corey Hood?’,” Jason Cronk, Hood’s former chemistry teacher said.

“Corey wasn’t a great student at West as far as what his transcript will tell you,” he said. “Corey found his way in the Army… he was a poster child for the U.S. Army.”

Trustees agreed to rename the street as long as the Lakota school district didn’t object, but later learned the roadway is owned by Butler County, not the township.

The township’s law director has now been asked to provide guidance on how to proceed.

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“We’re going to find out what it’s going to take,” Trustee George Lang said. “And whatever the next steps are, I’m going to lead the charge to get that done.”

Lang, however, acknowledged that the name change could set a troublesome precedent. The concern was also shared by fellow trustees Lee Wong and Mark Welch.

“There is a concern, where do you draw the line?” West Chester Twp. Trustee George Lang asked. “There are lots of people who have served our country and come to an untimely death. Obviously we can’t change the names of all the roads.”

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Hood, a 2001 Lakota West graduate, joined the Army right out of school. During his 14-year tenure in the Army, Hood served as a Forward Observer, Team Chief, Platoon Sergeant and an Airborne Instructor. He completed five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, and received many accolades and medals.

Hood was awarded two Bronze Stars, two Meritorious Service Medals, five Army Commendation Medals, five Army Achievement Medals, Master Parachutist Badge, Pathfinder Badge, Air Assault Badge, and the Combat Action Badge.

West Chester could be traveling down a “slippery slope” by changing the name of any road to honor Hood, Trustee Mark Welch said, adding that perhaps a plaque could be commissioned for Hood instead.

“These are obviously emotional issues and once you open the door, other people are going to say well ‘you did it for them’,” Welch said. “We have to be very careful about setting precedent and we also have to be very consistent in the application of everything we do.”

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Road name changes are rare in the county, according to Butler County Engineer Greg Wilkens.

The changes can be an inconvenience for people who live on or businesses located on the particular street, he said.

“It gets somewhat ticklish because people who have addresses on it, it changes all the addresses, all the checks all the other things,” Wilkens said. “The only time I remember us doing it was where we had a reconfiguration of roads.”

There are two businesses located along the stretch of road in question, according to Wilkens. The remainder of the road runs along Lakota West High School, which uses a Union Centre Boulevard address.

Changing of the county-owned road would require the approval of Butler County commissioners, Wilkens said.

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Proposals like this should be considered case-by-case, Butler County Commissioner T.C. Rogers told this newspaper, but he said he would give deference to the desires of the local community making the request.

Considerable discussion and advice from the Butler County prosecutor would be involved in any decision, Commissioner Don Dixon said.

“It would be something that would not be taken lightly,” he said.

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Tom O’Brien, whose son was Hook’s friend, told this newspaper he would expect elected officials to make decisions like these on a case-by-case basis.

“Hopefully they’ll make the decision based on the merits of this particular petition and this particular individual,” he said. “And that they would do the same ongoing in the future, with any individual that was proposed to have a great honor because of his great service.”

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