CUTTING MY teeth in this business as a sports writer, predictions go with the territory.
With 2012 unfolding today, I am poised to make a prediction for the new year. I am prognosticating an economic upswing of major proportions for the Ohio Valley. That prediction is forged on several factors.
First, Ormet Corp. in Hannibal is booming. Ormet's well-being means a great deal to not just Monroe County and Switzerland of Ohio School District but to the entire Ohio Valley. The aluminum producer employs more than 900 workers from a wide geographic area.
Ormet appears built for a long and productive run. The company is a major player on the local economic landscape.
Secondly, King Coal appears primed for more growth. Bob Murray's commitment for major expansion at his Century Mine in Monroe County is proof positive that the coal industry will not just survive but thrive. Coal and a strong Ohio Valley economy are one in the same.
The biggest factor playing into economic resurgence locally is the oil and gas drilling business. Marcellus and Utica shale have spawned much hope and optimism in the valley. We are just beginning to feel the economic benefits that go with the projected billion dollar industry.
Several local school districts have been positively impacted by leasing deals. More will follow. It may prove a salvation to financially ailing school districts
Shale will generate thousands of well-paying wages for a ready-made work force in waiting. The total amount of projected jobs vary, but it is safe to say Eastern Ohio is on the threshold of an employment windfall. The Ohio Valley used to be driven by coal and steel, now it may be shale and coal.
Other predictions for 2012.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I like the guy personally. He brings energy and personality to the Oval Office. However, he has done little to help the nation in his three years in office. I still believe he will win a second term as the current GOP presidential field is a train wreck.
URBAN MEYER: Ohio State is coming out of Tattoogate and Tresselgate smelling like a rose. Meyer is the BEST in the coaching business. He is re-energized health-wise and is now at his dream job. After dealing with NCAA penalties this coming season, the Buckeyes and Meyer will enjoy a long and successful gridiron marriage.
BCS TITLE: It is unfair for unbeaten LSU to have to defeat Alabama twice to become champions. The Tigers already beat the Tide in Tuscaloosa. This is an unfair rematch, one that Alabama will prevail in.
JOHN KASICH: I think this guy is a smart individual with much political but misguided savvy. I believe he will learn from his Senate Bill 5 fiasco and become a more bipartisan governor, attempting to secure some Democratic support.
LINDSAY LOHAN: More jail time.
THE PITTSBURGH Pirates will post a winning record, ending a 19-year run of losing seasons.
THE WHEELING HUFFER: See Lindsay Lohan.
THE TOP story in Ohio for 2011 had to be the exotic animal episode nears Zanesville. The top sports story in the state was Tressel and Tattoogate.
CONGRATULATIONS GO to our reporter Robert A. DeFrank. He was honored recently by the Harrison Hills Board of Education for his fair and excellent reporting.
HAPPY NEW Year wishes to all our readers. We hope 2012 is a prosperous one for the entire Ohio Valley.
Kapral may be reached at bkapral@timesleader online.com