01/15/2005 12:00AM

Ohio gets new racing chair


Ohio Gov. Bob Taft appointed Norm Barron as the interim chairman of the Ohio State Racing Commission on Friday.

Barron, one of the commission's five members, had previously been its chairman from 1988 to 1995. He now takes over the interim post from Scott Borgemenke, who resigned last month to become the chief of staff for a member of Ohio's House of Representatives.

Barron, a partner in a Cincinnati law firm, also is a board member of the Association of Racing Commissioners International and has served as that group's legal counsel.

Barron will serve as chairman until March 31, completing the original four-year term of Luther Heckman, who resigned at the governor's request last February after a report from a state inspector accused commission members of accepting meals, trips, and other gifts from the state's racetracks.

Borgemenke, who served just nine months as commission chairman, lobbied unsuccessfully for a major reduction in racing dates for the state's tracks in order to raise purse structures to compete with tracks in neighboring states.

Taft also named Dr. C. William Swank as an interim commissioner to the seat vacated by Borgemenke. Swank will also serve through March 31.

Sam Zonak, the commission's executive director, said a replacement for longtime state steward Allen Fairbanks, who resigned in December, would be hired by March.