April 18, 2014

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President Obama returning to LCCC Wednesday

ELYRIA — President Barack Obama will return to Lorain County Community College on Wednesday for a speech on the economy.

President Barack Obama speaks Jan. 22, 2010, at Lorain County Community College.

Obama last visited Elyria on Jan. 22, 2010, as part of his “White House to Main Street Tour” when he visited EMC Precision Machining and Riddell, grabbed a burger at Smitty’s and held a town hall meeting at LCCC following a brief tour of some of the school’s classrooms.

This visit will be far quicker with the president’s schedule calling for him to give his speech around 2:30 p.m. at LCCC’s College Center. The event is closed to the public, but students and several local elected officials will be among those attending the speech.

Elyria Mayor Holly Brinda, who was in the crowd during Obama’s 2010 visit, said she will be a lot closer to the action this time around and hopes to have the opportunity to speak with the president about issues facing the city.

“His choice of Elyria, Ohio, to deliver his vision for the economy speaks to the important role that Elyria, Lorain County, Lorain County Community College and the assets of the entire region play in our country’s economic turnaround,” Brinda said Monday.

Brinda and county Commissioner Ted Kalo both said that Obama’s visit will tie in with the county’s efforts to redevelop its workforce.

“Our proud history of manufacturing has created a solid workforce that can easily be retrained for jobs within advanced manufacturing and other sectors,” Brinda said.

Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer, Lorain City Council President Joel Arredondo and county commissioners Lori Kokoski and Tom Williams also confirmed that they would be attending the event, which is an official visit rather than a campaign appearance.

Williams, the only Republican in that group, said he’s excited for the president’s visit, even if they don’t see eye-to-eye on how to deal with all of the issues facing the nation.

“He’s our commander-in-chief, if you agree or disagree with his policies you respect the position,” Williams said.
Even though Obama isn’t here on a campaign visit, Arredondo said the visit will help with the president’s re-election effort, particularly with the county’s large Hispanic population.

Lorain County Democratic Party Chairman Anthony Giardini, who won’t be attending the event because of a prior commitment, said he too agrees that Wednesday’s scheduled appearance is good politically for Obama. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if the president makes a dedicated campaign stop in Lorain County before November.

“It’s a pretty strong indication that the president needs to get back to where he was in 2008 with what I would call moderate Democrats in a union environment,” Giardini said. “Lorain County, I think, is the quintessential county when it comes to that.”

Lorain County Republican Party Chairwoman Helen Hurst, who wasn’t invited to the event, said she plans to watch the speech and is hoping to hear some good economic news. But whatever the president has to say, his mere presence will be a boon to the county, she said.

“It’s always good to have any sitting president come to this county,” Hurst said. “It helps keep us on the map.”

Marcia Ballinger, LCCC’s provost and vice president of strategic and institutional development, said having Obama visit will be good for the school as well. She said the college also has hosted presidential candidates John McCain, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry in recent years.

“The college is absolutely delighted that the president will be visiting Lorain County and Lorain County Community College for the second time in two years,” she said. “It emphasizes the importance of community colleges in today’s economy.”

Ballinger said college officials knew there was a possibility Obama would make a return appearance, but it wasn’t confirmed until late last week.

Brinda said she’s known for about a week, but was barred from discussing it.

“I wasn’t even allowed to tell City Council,” she said.

Elyria Police Chief Duane Whitely said his officers and those from other area police departments have been hard at work putting together a security plan for Obama’s visit, although the details of those arrangements remain a tightly guarded secret.

“Because it’s security details, I can’t talk about too much,” Whitely said.

As with Obama’s last visit, Whitely said, numerous roads will be shut down along the president’s travel route to accommodate his motorcade.

Amy Higgins, spokeswoman for Elyria Schools, said parents were to be informed Monday night that the district will cancel classes on Wednesday because of the road closures and the unpredictability for schedules that accompany presidential visits. She said the district did the same during Obama’s visit two years ago.

Higgins also said that a school board meeting scheduled for Wednesday will be postponed until next week.

At LCCC, morning classes will be held as normal except for those that take place in the Nord Advanced Technologies Center, which will be closed until 4 p.m.

All afternoon classes will be canceled, but evening classes will be held, according to the college. Early College High School classes will be on an amended schedule. Details are available at www.lorainccc.edu/earlycollege.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.