By DAVID SKOLNICK
Secret Service agents and White House staff are spending a lot of time at Astro Shapes in Struthers and the Canfield home of Bruce and Rori Zoldan, preparing for Vice President Joe Biden’s Monday visit to the Mahoning Valley.
The agents and staff arrived Thursday at Astro Shapes in Struthers and at the Zoldans’ house in Canfield on Friday and will be at both places through Monday.
Astro Shapes is where Biden, a Democrat, will speak at a rally from about 1:45 to 2:45 p.m.
Also at the rally will be Gov. Ted Strickland and Yvette McGee Brown, his lieutenant-governor running mate.
Besides making security checks, a stage is being built and plans are being finalized for the rally, said Bob Cene Jr., co-owner and vice president of the aluminium extrusions company.
The company employs 470 workers, he said.
The presence of Secret Service agents and White House staff isn’t distracting, Cene said.
“It’s no big deal; everyone’s working,” he said.
Biden is making his first visit to the Valley as vice president, campaigning for Democratic candidates on the November ballot. In particular, Biden is here for Strickland’s re-election effort.
The vide president’s first stop Monday is to be at a diner in the Youngstown area.
The original plan was for it to be the Golden Dawn Restaurant on Youngstown’s North Side, but that may change.
A decision by the White House on the diner location could come today.
Also, Biden will attend a fundraiser for Strickland about 5:30 p.m. at the 11,871-square-foot Zoldan home on Sugarbush Drive.
The Zoldans have hosted numerous political fundraisers at their home.
Among those who have visited the Zoldan home for such events are former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
This is the first time the Zoldans have had a sitting vice president — they’ve never had a sitting president — attend an event at their home.
“It’s very exciting,” Zoldan said. “Whether it’s Republicans or Democrats, if I can host somebody in my home of national stature who can help our community, I’m honored to do so.”
About 100 people are expected at the event, Zoldan said.
The goal is to raise $150,000 to $200,000 for Strickland’s campaign, said Michael Morley, a lawyer and former chairman of the Mahoning County Democratic Party who is co-hosting the event.
The other co-hosts are Atty. David Betras, county Democratic chairman; and Michael Bruno, owner of a major commercial fitness company.
John Haseley, senior adviser to Strickland’s re-election campaign, discussed the fundraiser a few weeks ago with Zoldan and Morley in Columbus.
“It’s huge to have a vice president visit the area,” Morley said. “There have been times where the Democratic Party has been accused of taking the local voters for granted. But this administration has substantively delivered.”