Debate Arises Over Whether To Rename Ottawa County Bridge

Wednesday, September 20th 2006, 6:08 am
By: News On 6

MIAMI, Okla. (AP) -- Family members of an Ottawa County soldier killed in Iraq earlier this year want to have a bridge renamed in his honor, but descendants of the man for whom the bridge now is named have objected to that request.

Air Force Technical Sergeant Jason L. Norton died in Iraq on January 22nd. His family asked Ottawa County Commissioners in June to rename the Steppford Bridge, an aging wood-plank span which crosses the Neosho River about five miles west of Commerce.

But commissioners denied that request when descendants of Andrew Jackson Stepp protested and turned down the Norton family's latest request Monday.

Stepp ferried people across the river and lived in the area more than a century ago.

Norton's brother Bert Norton says the family means no disrespect to the Stepp family and that the Nortons just wanted to honor his brother.

Now the Norton family is requesting a plaque be placed on the bridge to honor Jason Norton. Tabitha Stepp Reeves, Stepp's great-great-granddaughter, says her family has no objections to such a plaque.