WARWICK, RI - On the list of states in order of geographic size, Rhode Island ranks 50th out of 50, meaning the Ocean State is the tiniest in the union.
Its physical area encompasses fewer square miles than the average-sized county in Texas, the nation's second largest state.
Being one of the original thirteen colonies to become states in the country's infancy, Rhode Island has been the littlest for the longest....but that might soon change, if two of its most famous citizens have anything to do about it.
Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, founders of TAPS, the Atlantic Paranormal Society, have a plan to bring their homestate out of the cellar of smalldom. It might not be haunted down in there, but these guys want to help Rhode Island shed its image of being so small that if you blink, you'll pass right through it.
As anyone who watches the Sci-Fi Channel on Wednesday nights knows well, "Ghosthunters" and its spinoff, "Ghosthunters International", have become two of the most popular reality programs on TV. Such success breeds fame and fortune, enough of the latter, perhaps, to do the unthinkable. These guys literally want to buy their state's way out of the aforementioned cellar.
"We think we have a sure-fire idea to move Rhode Island ahead of Delaware in terms of size," Hawes proudly admits. "but it's up to the folks in Massachusetts ultimately."
Hawes and Wilson, best friends, co-owners of their Roto-Rooter plumbing franchise, and fellow paranormal investigators for over twenty years, are hoping to add land moguls to their impressive resumes.
"We got the idea from reading about the pioneers of the great migration westward in the 1800's," Wilson laments. "and how scores of people acquired thousands and thousands of acres of land for pennies on the dollar to do with whatever they wanted. This eventually led to the formation of the states out west."
The two men's inspiration from long ago was on a much grander scale than what they wish to accomplish on their own today.
"Our hope is to do something similar in plan, but smaller in scope, to affect only Rhode Island and Massachusetts." Hawes explains.
The plan seems simple enough, but it may run into complications if not handled in the right manner. Hawes and Wilson envision utilizing their combined revenue, undisclosed at this time, from their wildly successful shows to systematically purchase acres of Massachusetts land all along the border with Rhode Island, including homes, businesses, etc., and allowing their state to annex the entirety of their purchased property to become part of the newly-enlarged Rhode Island.
The size of their land acquisition will only be large enough to carry Rhode Island past Delaware by a mere one square mile to overtake them in the size ranking, but not so large as to affect Massachusetts' size ranking. Many fans across the country label it as brilliant, ingenious, and clever, but will it realistically work? Hawes is optimistic.
"We think it will. Besides, Massachusetts is full of haunted places, so we'll have plenty to keep us busy once we buy up all those old houses."
Wilson agrees, "Yeah, it's a win-win for us and Rhode Island!"
The caveat to all this rests with the citizens of Massachusetts who actually own the land that the ghosthunting duo have their sights set on. Will they all be willing to sell their land that will in turn become part of a rival state?
In separate interviews, the mayors of numerous townships in the border region of Massachusetts have reiterated their peoples' wishes to remain within their homestate and not relinquish their Massachusetts citizenship rights to become Rhode Islanders, to which Hawes and Wilson brought up an interesting point.
"They wouldn't be Rhode Islanders anymore, because we would have bought up their land and forced them to relocate back to what's left of Massachusetts. Duhhh!!!"
Additionally, constitutional hurdles appear necessary to overcome in terms of congressional seating, taxation and education.
"This would set an unhealthy precedent for others who would wish to transform the landscape of this country in such a stark way." quipped Jonathan Appleseed, historian, tenth-generational descendent of a mythical figure, and author of "My America, Your America, Our America, But Not Their America", "Take the situation down in the states bordering with Mexico, for instance: How would we feel if some rich Mexican wanted to buy all of the land on our side of the Rio Grande inland a few miles and make it part of Old Mexico? In that case, we would have to move the river north a little further just to keep things consistent."
Appleseed continues: "Such an endevour would entail countless hours of back-breaking manpower and a fortune in monetary expenditure. Oh, sure, we could just let the illegal immigrants do the work for a fraction of the expense, assuming they would still be illegal after the land purchase, but that's not the point. It's utter lunacy!!"
Neither Hawes nor Wilson believes this would ignite an epidemic of massive land transfers from state to state.
"Mainly because it's terribly cost-prohibitive, but also, when you think about it, because it's just a wicked pain in the ass to change addresses, letterheads, and other public records."
Wilson laughs. "However, since we're such big stars now and still willing to snake out a clogged sewer pipe every once in awhile, I think Massachusetts will have to make an exception for us."
Hawes adds this stern but friendly warning, "If they don't comply with our requsests, believe us when we say we won't ever go back to Massachusetts to track down evil spirits for them...they'll just have to stay scared of the dark over there!"
Negotiations are still underway in this modern-day landgrab, and further updates will come periodically as this pair continue on their quest to upgrade Rhode Island to the second smallest state in the nation.
"Actually, we want to call it the 49th largest, but that's splitting hairs, I guess." Wilson said.
On a side note, Hawes and Wilson, if successful, will hold a contest on their TAPS website to name the additional counties that will be formed in the new and enlarged Rhode Island.
Early suggestions submitted include the following: Taps, Tango, Gonsalves (for Steve, investigator), Hawes, Wilson, Williams (for Kris, if not already taken for an existing county), Boo, Spectre (for a ghost, not Arlen the politician or Phil the producer), and Orb. Each winner will have his or her name chisled on the cornerstone of the new courthouse built to seat the respective new county he or she named.
When asked how they think the people of state of Rhode Island will feel about the possibility of losing their distinction as the smallest state, Hawes and Wilson agree.
"Who wants to be last at anything? Being smallest in size for anyone, especially guys, is embarrassing, so we don't feel anyone in Rhode Island will mind giving up that title." Hawes declared.
"And if anyone does have a problem with it," Wilson adds, "they can just move to Delaware, where they can be first and last at something at the same time. The first in statehood, and the last in size!!"