Jesse Owens Park Good for E. Ohio

It has been known for nearly a year that state officials were negotiating with American Electric Power to create a new state park in East Ohio. During his State of the State speech this week, Gov. John Kasich made it official.

Kasich also put some icing on the cake, revealing the new Ohio Department of Natural Resources area will be named the Jesse Owens State Park and Wildlife Area. It will honor the Buckeye State native who, in the governor’s words, “stood up to Hitler and came home with a gold medal” won in the 1936 Olympics.

An excellent choice, governor.

East Ohio residents already are blessed with excellent opportunities for outdoor recreation. Barkcamp State Park in Belmont County is one.

But the new park, a reasonably short drive from our area, is important. It will consist of 13,000 acres out of AEP’s existing 60,000-acre recreation park in Guernsey, Morgan, Muskingum and Noble counties. The facility already is blessed with numerous improvements including campsites and boating areas.

Kasich’s announcement brightens the prospects for spring, which is just around the corner (we hope). It adds a new option for Ohioans and West Virginians seeking to enjoy the great outdoors and — important during a time when many bemoan the seeming addiction of many youngsters to their smartphones — to get our children and grandchildren out into the fresh air.

Good for the Kasich administration in concluding negotiations with AEP successfully, and in recognizing the importance in many ways of outdoor recreation and wildlife preservation in Ohio.