DeWine ‘cautiously optimistic’ about cracker plant
COLUMBUS — As he prepares to become Ohio’s next governor early Monday morning, Mike DeWine says he is “cautiously optimistic” an ethane cracker plant soon will be announced for Belmont County.
“I think the benefits for Eastern Ohio will be not just the jobs that come from the cracker plant, but there’s going to be all the related industries and companies that spring up,” DeWine said. “This is very exciting, and will extend well beyond Belmont County.
“It’s going to be important for West Virginia as well as Ohio. This is very big, big deal.”
PTT Global Chemical has proposed construction of an ethane cracker plant to be located in Dilles Bottom at the site of the former R.E. Burger Plant. Last month, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency issued an air permit-to-install and a modified wastewater discharge permit for the planned facility that cleared the way for construction.
DeWine said he hasn’t been given any hints as to when an announcement regarding the cracker plant might be forthcoming.
“I don’t have a date, but I’m cautiously optimistic,” he said.
Plans for inauguration
There will be both a private and a public swearing in for DeWine, who presently is serving out his term as Ohio attorney general.
He officially will be sworn into office as governor just after the stroke of midnight Monday at a private ceremony at his farm in Cedarville in Greene County, Ohio. A small group of friends and family have been invited to attend.
A public and ceremonial swearing in will take place 12 hours later at noon in the rotunda of the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus.
A gala will be held Monday night, and DeWine said after that his family will spend their first night in the Ohio Governor’s Residence. Current Gov. John Kasich and his family have not lived in the governor’s mansion, but instead resided in their home in nearby Westerville.
DeWine said the intent of he and his wife, Frances, is to live in the governor’s mansion during the week and return to their farm on weekends. He grows corn, soybeans and hay on the land.
The DeWines are the parents of eight children, and they have 23 grandchildren.
Prior to serving as attorney general, DeWine was elected to six-year terms in the U.S. Senate in 1994 and in 2000. He was lieutenant governor under former governor George Voinovich from 1991 until taking office in the Senate.
He also has served in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Ohio Senate, and as Greene County prosecutor during his career.
“I think I’ve really spent my lifetime preparing for this job (as governor),” DeWine said. “I still rely on some things I learned as a county prosecutor. Each job I’ve held over the years has helped me prepare for this job.”
While Fighting Opioids
DeWine has spent much of his tenure as attorney general fighting Ohio’s opioid crisis, and he believes educating children about the dangers of drugs at the earliest age possible is the best way to combat the issue.
He wants anti-drug education in all grades — from kindergarten through high school — implemented every year in all Ohio schools.
“If we look at what the most important thing we can do for our children, and what we can do about reducing our drug problems — it’s about reaching our children at an early age,” he said.
Education, prevention, treatment and law enforcement all will be components of Ohio’s efforts against opioid abuse, according to DeWine.
A second initiative by DeWine will be to make certain Ohio’s workers have the skills they need for 21st century jobs, and he said this initiative is related to the fight against opioids.
“We have adults who cannot get certain jobs because they can’t pass a drug test,” he said. “Matching workers and jobs with job skills and the ability to pass a drug test ties into jobs and moving Ohio’s economy forward.”
DeWine also said he will be looking outside Columbus and to local communities for answers to many of Ohio’s issues.
“I think you will find the DeWine administration to be an administration that listens,” DeWine said. “We do not think that all wisdom resides in Columbus, Ohio. My instructions to my cabinet will be to travel out of the state, and find people with information we need in the communities. In return, we want to be helpful to local townships, cities, villages and counties.
“We’re going to be decentralized, which means nearly all services will be delivered at the local level.”
Kasich cut funding to local governments during his tenure. While willing to partner with local communities, DeWine isn’t committing to restoring local government funding during his administration.
Ohio’s Governor For 2020 Election
When it comes to American presidential elections, the adage is “whoever wins Ohio wins the White House.”
As Ohio’s governor, DeWine is likely to play a prominent role in the future of the nation’s politics as the 2020 campaign approaches. Kasich sought the presidency himself in 2016 — and hasn’t been shy about voicing his differences with fellow Republican President Donald Trump. DeWine, meanwhile, promises to back the GOP presidential nominee next year.
“That’s absolutely right — Ohio will be a battleground state in 2020,” DeWine said. “Calling it a ‘red’ state is not really accurate. It’s a state that can go back and forth between parties.
“I certainly will do what I can to help our nominee. But today my focus is on Ohio and making the right cabinet decisions. We’re focused on hitting the ground running after I take office on Monday.”