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Many were impressed with talk

February 8, 2012
By MARK LAW - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

STEUBENVILLE - About a hundred state and local officials and residents gathered at Froehlich's Classic Corner after Gov. John Kasich's State of the State address on Tuesday.

Most people interviewed said they were impressed with the Republican governor's comments but the area's Democratic state senator said he wanted more substance.

Rick Desman, Jefferson County Republican Party vice chairman, said his first thought after Kasich's speech was the man has the potential to be president someday.

Article Photos

AT THE RECEPTION — About a hundred people gathered at Froehlich’s Classic Corner after the State of the State address Tuesday afternoon to mingle and discuss Gov. John Kasich’s speech. Among those at the reception talking were, from left, Keith Murdock, Trinity Health System spokesman; Laura Meeks, Eastern Gateway Community College president; Jason Wilson, Governor’s Office of Appalachia director; and Steubenville Mayor Domenick Mucci. - Mark Law

"What stood out in my mind was he is trying to be nonpartisan. That is important today," Desman said.

Desman said the protesters who tried to disrupt the speech "have no clue on the progress (Kasich) has made in the last six months."

Ed Looman, Project Alliance executive director, said. "I think the governor hit it right on the head. It is all about jobs, jobs, jobs. What he is doing with JobsOhio is very exciting and a step in the right direction.

"I liked when he talked about his efforts to get business growing and get business here. I think he is on the right track."

Adam Scurti, a former Jefferson County commissioner and a Republican, said there is a very positive attitude in Ohio and so many sectors of the state.

"I came away very optimistic that we are moving forward, on the right course and ready for the future."

Jefferson County Commissioner Thomas Graham said the turnaround with the state budget was "very impressive," especially with the deficit and the increase in the state's rainy-day fund.

"What he did with the budget sets the tone for further economic development."

Graham also was impressed with the governor's policy on education.

Laura Meek, Eastern Gateway Community College president, said she believes the governor is correct that community college's have their work cut out.

"Business and industry have real training needs and community colleges need to step up and do it. Community colleges need to drive it," she said.

Bryan Felmet, former Jefferson County prosecutor and a Republican, said he was most impressed with how uplifting the governor was in his speech, especially with the Courage Awards.

"There wasn't a dry eye in the house. He was sincere and he really has a heart for the people. What a wonderful venue with that auditorium (at the high school)."

City Mayor Domenick Mucci said he thought is "was just wonderful" that Kasich delivered his address here.

Mucci said the recognition that Wells Academy received and the emphasis he put on education was very appropriate. The mayor said he was a little disappointed Kasich didn't address the cuts in local government funding.

"I loved his thought process on bipartisanship for economic development. If he is able to build consensus on both sides and accomplish his goals, that would be great for Jefferson County and for the entire state of Ohio."

Jefferson County Commissioner Tom Gentile said he was "astounded" to hear that Ohio went from 48th in the country in job creation to near the top. He also was impressed with the current condition of the state's budget.

"It is amazing he was able to get the budget under control. For that to happen in a year is just amazing," Gentile said.

He added he didn't expect the governor to make a major announcement concerning the gas industry and the cracker plant location during the speech.

"I think that announcement may be coming in the future."

Jason Wilson, the area's former state senator and current director of the Governor's Office of Appalachia, said he recognized that Kasich is very excited about Ohio and its recent successes.

"There is a renewed optimism. Good things will happen when we all work together," Wilson said.

He added the governor touched on the opportunities for the gas drilling industry but Kasich also noted the multiple business opportunities flourishing around the state. "We had a chance to give Jefferson County an opportunity to be recognized."

State Sen. Lou Gentile, D-Steubenville, said he was glad Steubenville had the opportunity to host the event, but Gentile said he was looking for more substance in the governor's speech.

Gentile said former Gov. Ted Strickland laid out a specific plan to fund public education in Ohio.

"We heard little or no substance on education (from Kasich) on how to fix public education funding. We heard broad themes. Obviously he believes using taxpayer money for for-profit schools (voucher program) is a good idea."

Gentile said the governor is putting public education funding on the backs of working-class families in the form of local school levies.

"They are being asked to carry the burden through passing levies for education. It is a subtle way of saying local communities need to carry the burden," he said.

Gentile, echoing Mucci's comments, said the governor didn't address the loss of local government funds.

Gentile also said the development of the gas drilling industry needs to include protections for the environment.

He said Kasich mentioned the successes of steel manufacturers around the state but ignored the out-of-work local steel workers and what Kasich is doing to address their needs.

"The governor needs to recognize (these) workers who have been out of work for an extended period of time. On a whole, I was very pleased Steubenville hosted the event. It was an unique opportunity. But in terms of substance, I wanted more," he said.

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