Hanging prominently on the wall of Michael Dew’s office is a framed hamburger wrapper from the Kewpee.
His father, the senior Mike Dew, gave it to him as a gift.
“He wanted to make sure I never forgot where I came from,” said Michael, who this month was named the Secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation.
It’s a job that has the 40-year-old Elida native and a 1995 graduate of Lima Central Catholic High School overseeing an agency responsible for:
• 122,659 highway miles in the nation’s third most populous state.
• 20 commercial airports, which help transport each year the 107 million (and growing) visitors to the Sunshine State.
• 2 Spaceports.
• 31 urban transit systems.
• 15 seaports.
• 2,895 rail corridor miles, which move 743 million tons of freight in a state which has the 16th largest economy in the world.
On Dew’s third day on the job, he found himself accompanying Florida Gov. Rick Scott to the White House to talk with President Donald Trump and staff about transportation strategies.
“Getting used to the pace of this job is exhilarating, exciting … always something new,” Dew said.
And then there are the basics: “More than 1,000 people are moving to Florida each day, so we need to maintain what we have and add what’s needed.”
So, how does a guy from Allen County end up with such a job? He’ll tell you it starts with having great parents and a solid mentor while in college.
“I love politics, and there was no better person I could have started under than Bob Cupp,” Dew said. “He sets an example of hard work, humility and respecting the people who put their trust in you.”
Dew went on to work in development for Ohio governors Bob Taft and John Kasich. Then one day, he received a call from a friend who worked for Gov. Scott.
“She told me there was an opening in Florida. It was the middle of winter. I looked out the window and saw cold, gray skies and sloppy snow. I asked her what it was like in Tallahassee. She told me it was 78 with bright, blue skies. I packed my bags.”
He’s since been an integral part of Scott’s administration, working the past six years as chief of staff in both the Department of Corrections and Department of Transportation before being named to his new position.
Dew gets back to Ohio every year in the late fall.
“My mom (Sue Dew) and I have a tradition of attending the Ohio State-Michigan game together. I wouldn’t miss it,” he said.
That trip also includes Thanksgiving dinner and, the next day, a Kewpee hamburger.
“I’ve been all over the world and have traveled across the U.S.,” Dew said, “and I can honestly tell you that you won’t find a hamburger any better than that of the Kewpee.”
ROSES AND THORNS: There’s a lot of people running around the rose garden.
Rose: To Keith Bolyard, Jr., of Columbus Grove, whose idea is featured in the Pluggers cartoon on page 2D today.
Rose: To Chris Jackson, of Lima, and all those who helped in bringing the Ohio AAU Region Four Track and Field Championships to Lima Stadium. The event will see 1,200 athletes competing Thursday to July 3.
Rose: To Daryl Bridenbaugh, of Pandora. The John Deere company has selected him as one of three finalists to win a Skid Steere, based on an essay he wrote saying he would use the equipment to help Habitat for Humanity build houses. Around 650 people took part in the contest.
Rose: To the Rev. Dennis Ward, president of the Lima Area Black Ministerial Alliance. The group held a community cookout at Faurot Park to show the church is bigger than four walls.
Rose: To former Allen County Commissioner Dan Reiff, who received the Liberty Bell Award from the Allen County Bar Association for his civic pride and contributions to good government.
Rose: To Ashley Thompson, CEO of 50 Strong. The Lima-based manufacturer, known for its advocacy of American-made products, has landed a contract with Wal-Mart to produce 5 million water bottles. The move will create 20 jobs in Lima while bringing revenue from China to the U.S.
Thorn: Pandora-Gilboa schools is under investigation by the Ohio Board of Education for allowing a person to teach without a license.
PARTING SHOT: Intelligence is like underwear. It is important that you have it, but not necessary that you show it off.
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.