By Marc Kovac
A couple of projects included in Gov. John Kasich’s $2.4 billion two-year capital budget proposal spotlight eastern Ohio’s emerging shale-oil fields.
Funding is included in the plan for a new training initiative for oil-field workers and others in Trumbull County, and for new equipment to train firefighters in responding to natural-gas emergencies.
A total of $250,000 was included in the capital budget for a proposed Technology Belt Oil and Gas Learning Center, an effort of Eastern Gateway Community College, local developers and others.
The group had sought about $1.5 million for the project.
Marc Ciccarelli, director of work force and community outreach at the college, said the proposed capital outlay isn’t enough to guarantee the project will come to fruition.
But plans call for the conversion of a former military site in Lordstown into an educational campus to provide classes and job training for area residents.
Ciccarelli said the parcel is well-suited for training oil and gas workers and others in welding and other industrial arts.
“It would be ideal for some type of industrial training center, along with traditional-type college classes,” he said.
Ciccarelli said backers would meet in coming weeks to discuss the future of the project, with plans to seek out other funding sources to complete renovations and purchase equipment and furnishings.
“We have a really good idea, and we have a really good place, but for it to come to fruition, we need like six or seven times more than we have,” he said. “We’re going to try to reach out to these other sources and see if they can contribute.”
The capital budget also includes $250,000 for an expanded natural-gas fire training area at the Ohio Fire Academy in suburban Columbus. The funds would pay for a new natural-gas line, control tower and multiple training aids that simulate different emergencies.
The grounds already have a natural-gas area, said Michael Duchesne, a spokesman for the state fire marshal, but the capital funding will provide additional training opportunities for emergency crews working in eastern Ohio.