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Made in Ohio

Melissa Topey • Mar 27, 2013 at 5:00 AM

Given the topsy-turvy economy in recent years, it’s perhaps fitting that U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown used Cedar Point’s newly constructed roller coaster as a backdrop to his visit here Tuesday.    

“I am so proud of how much behind us is made in Ohio,” Brown said, the blue tracks of GateKeeper looming large behind him.

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Brown supports marriage equality but hasn't signed the petition to put the the question on Ohio's election ballot. Find out why. Get the Q&A with Sen. Brown in today's Register. Click here for the ePaper, for home delivery or buy a Register daily at a newsstand near you. 

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While the manufacturing industry in the Midwest has long been on the ropes, there are still moments of frenzied comeback.    

This point wasn’t lost on Brown, who expressed his pride in the work being done by one of the largest employers in this area.

In the quiet winter months, when construction elsewhere came to a standstill, GateKeeper’s construction brought jobs to Ohio-based businesses, including A.A. Boos and Sons, in Oregon, whose workers poured the concrete foundation and footers for GateKeeper. 

The steel work was done by Clermont Steel Fabricators, of southern Ohio, while Bert R. Witte Inc., of Amherst, did the carpentry work. Fremont-based S.A. Comunale handled the ride’s brake system and other aspects, while Sandusky-based

Lews Construction installed the fencing around the ride and Firelands Electric assembled the electrical systems.

“In Ohio, we know how to make big things by unions,” Brown said. “This is good quality work.”

Mark MaGee, an employee of A.A. Boos and Sons, thanked Cedar Point and Brown for supporting the unions.

“And letting us be a part of this installation,” MaGee said.

Brown has been a steadfast supporter of unions, fighting against a growing national trend in which some legislators are trying to break unions. Organized labor increases the living wage for the middle class. 

But essential to the equation is businesses, like Cedar Point, contracting with local unions on projects, Brown said.

Another union member at Tuesday’s gathering was foreman Gerald Newsome, a 10-year employee of Firelands Electric, a company that has a long-standing relationship with Cedar Point, working on rides such as Maverick, maXair and SkyHawk. 

For the community to flourish, it’s important to keep the playing field level, Newsome said. 

“It means area people working,” he said. “Especially in this case at the holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas, for people who have families.”

GateKeeper’s 4,164-foot track is now complete. The record-breaking $30 million coaster is on schedule for the May 11 opening day of Cedar Point’s 144th season.

Brown supports marriage equality but hasn't signed the petition to put the the question on Ohio's election ballot. Find out why. Get the Q&A with Sen. Brown in today's Register. Click here for the ePaper, for home delivery or buy a Register daily at a newsstand near you.

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