COLUMBUS — Ohio’s 69th governor will have his place in history at the Ohio Expo Center and State Fair, following a naming ceremony Jan. 4 in which one of the newest buildings was named Kasich Hall.
Formerly known as the Cardinal Center and built in 2016, Kasich Hall features exhibit spaces ranging from 12,500 to 75,000 square feet, and constructed from funds the governor and Ohio Legislature approved.
Virgil Strickler, Ohio State Fair general manager, said he was “incredibly thankful” for the governor’s leadership and “forward thinking,” which helped secure more than $67 million in capital appropriations between 2011 and 2018.
“I am thrilled that we commemorated that support today by dedicating Kasich Hall, formerly known as Cardinal Hall, in his honor,” Strickler said.
Investing in the future
Gov. John Kasich said one of the things he was most proud of was the planting of 160-plus trees on the fairgrounds, which will help create more shade and make for a more enjoyable experience. He recalled visiting the fair with his wife and daughters, and many late nights that his daughters spent on the rides.
Kasich reflected on the tragedy of 2017, in which a ride malfunction claimed the life of two. He complimented the fair management, his cabinet and the Ohio State Highway Patrol, for their response effort and for changes intended to make the fair safer going forward.
Nearing the final week of his term in office, the governor talked mostly about achievements in his eight years as governor, and where he thinks the state and country are headed.
The two-time presidential candidate was the last Republican challenger to President Donald Trump in the 2016 primaries, and is exploring a possible third run for 2020.
“In America today, there’s so much confusion and change and people are frightened,” Kasich said. “They want to know whether somebody cares about them.”
He said the most important thing about his term was working with the people around him, and not leaving people behind. He said his team worked hard to respond to the needs of all demographics and races, including single mothers, people with autism, drug addiction, minorities and all races.
“The power and the change in our country does not come from politicians,” he said. “The change in power in our country comes from you. What you do, how you act, how you try to change the world — that’s what really matters.”
James Zehringer, director of the Department of Natural Resources, thanked the governor for the largest capital funding project the fair has received — $38 million in 2014, and said the governor was responsible for both the Kasich Hall and the Buckeye Agricultural Complex, and keeping the All American Quarter Horse Congress in Ohio.
Tim Derickson, interim director of agriculture, said the governor was a good supporter of all of Ohio’s fairs.
“State dollars improved fairs all across Ohio and strengthened our local communities,” Derickson said.
During his time in office, Kasich signed legislation abolishing the Ohio estate tax, also known as the death tax, and he signed legislation that updated the state’s farmland tax formula, known as the Current Agricultural Use Formula, which had allowed for 200-400 percent increases to what some farmers had to pay.
A more controversial move came in 2018, when the governor tried to get eight northwestern Ohio watersheds declared in distress, and set new rules that would have affected nearly 7,000 farms.
The rules were unpopular among farmers and non-farmers, and in October, Kasich fired former Ag Director David Daniels, apparently for siding with farmers.
In December, the state’s rule-review committee decided there were too many issues with the rules to proceed, and sent the package back to the ag department for further review and re-filing.
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