Ohio agency seeks approval to replace Smokey Bear

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

The Department of Natural Resources must first get approval from the state Controlling Board to spend $80,250 for a new bear. The agency plans to pay for it with a federal grant.

The board planned to vote on the spending request Monday, but a department spokesman said the item was pulled from the day's discussion after panel members had questions about the project.

The current Smokey has promoted the prevention of forest fires at the state fairgrounds since 1959. The agency says the 14 1/2-foot figure is in poor condition.

The department picked LifeFormations Inc. in Cincinnati to build the new Smokey, which is expected to have more automated functions.