THE OHIO Department of Natural Resources is misguided if it is seriously planning on relocating a mine training center out of Cadiz.
State Sen. Lou Gentile brought ODNR's plans to light Tuesday. Gentile is livid about such possibilities, as well as he should. If such a move does take place, it will be a damaging blow to Eastern Ohio as well as taking a step back in coal-mining safety.
The Jerry L. Stewart Mine Safety Training Center in Cadiz is a state-of-the-art facility, educating those in the coal industry with safer mining methods. The center came about after the tragic Sago mine disaster in West Virginia that left a dozen miners dead.
It is well-equipped, including a training simulator that enables miners from Ohio and neighboring states to practice safety procedures outside the classroom.
To relocate it makes no sense. Rather it takes on the appearance of political scheming.
ODNR Director James Zehringer makes no bones that the Cadiz center closing is a possibility. He noted his agency is considering shutting down the training center and moving the existing offices to another location, although he stopped short of saying the ODNR has definitive plans to reconstruct a new mine training facility.
The ODNR cites no benefits of any relocation. That is possibly due to the fact there are none.
The Jerry L. Stewart Mine Safety Training Center also delivers another huge benefit to Harrison County. That being it serves as a key economic catalyst. It provides good jobs, supports local businesses and draws hundreds of out-of-the-area miners to the area, further boosting area coffers.
Gentile is calling for meetings between ODNR and Cadiz officials to discuss what is acutually going on. Such dialogue needs to happen and Gentile needs to be a part of those talks.