LIMA —The next time Lima hosts the State of the State address, community leaders will know what worked well and how to improve the experience.
Mayor David Berger held a debriefing meeting Monday to evaluate the experience. Rep. Matt Huffman, R-Lima, joked that Lima could become the State of the State capital, the community did such an outstanding job.
Huffman said he expects taking the governor’s speech outside of Columbus to become an annual tradition. Gov. John Kasich's political opponents and legislators in both parties previously against the idea saw value in the day the community provided, Huffman said.
Kasich spent the night in Lima and attended at least two events, Huffman said: a dinner party following the State of the State at Milano Cafe and a private breakfast with about 20 guests Wednesday morning at Shawnee Country Club.
The Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Lima Inc. raised about $52,000 to help cover costs of community events, and the value of in-kind donations brought the total of community support to about $65,000, chamber President Jed Metzger said.
The day served Lima well, Huffman said. At the House Health and Aging Committee hearing at St. Rita’s Medical Center, doctors spent nearly four hours with legislators, first testifying on Huffman’s proposed neonatal regulation legislation, then giving them a tour of the maternity unit.
“Often committee members know only what they’re told in hearings,” Huffman said. “This was an extraordinary opportunity for them. The Ohio Department of Health isn’t happy about that, but that’s OK.”
Those gathering Monday said they repeatedly heard Lima more than set the bar for future events.
“I think we made the transformation from a State of the State to a capital for the day moved to Lima, with the array of events we had,” Berger said.
Much of the session dealt with nuts and bolts, such as parking lot staffing and coordinating charter buses for tours. People at the meeting also swapped stories, such as Downtown Lima Inc. board president and Dominion spokeswoman Peggy Ehora buying out Family Dollar’s stock of hangers and handling other last-minute details.
“A lot of this we just did on faith,” Ehora said. “We decided we needed the floors cleaned at Memorial Hall, and I called Master Maintenance. I asked how much it would cost, and he said not to lose any sleep over it. I still don’t know what that means.”