WAPAKONETA — President Donald Trump’s Sunday visit to Wapakoneta is stirring a great deal of excitement from government officials, business owners and the community.
It was announced Sunday night that Trump will visit Wapak’s Pratt Industries with Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia. The Australia owned facility recycles paper and manufactures cardboard boxes.
On Tuesday afternoon Rex Maxwell, owner of Fern Hill Farmhouse in downtown Wapakoneta, set out a life-sized painting of President Trump in front of his business his wife Jodie Nicole Maxwell painted when Trump took office. The portrait accompanied flags that motorists could view as they passed by the business. He has sold artwork and unique gift items for the past 10 years in downtown Wapakoneta.
The Maxwells are Trump supporters and their nephew Jaden is employed at Pratt Industries.
“We should be thankful Trump gets out and comes to small towns. I think that it reflects the good job he is doing for our country,” Rex said.
Don Regula, Auglaize County Commissioners president, said he is a Trump supporter and it is a good thing for the president to visit.
“He speaks our language. I’m a conservative and he is a conservative and knows how to get the job done and doesn’t care what others think of him,” Regula said.
Regula said he had the opportunity to visit Pratt Industries’ plant in Valparaiso, Indiana, and said he was impressed with the staff and described it as a mirror of the Wapakoneta business.
Lauren Fisher, Wapak resident, ate lunch Tuesday afternoon at J. Marie’s, and said she is excited for Trump’s visit. With Trump eliminating student loan debt for veterans, she said she supports that as her sister is currently serving in the Army.
“I have lived in Wapakoneta for 27 years and I think it’s important for him to visit. The election is coming up and regardless of your thoughts, I think it is good to support your president,” Fisher said.
Kimi Brown, Cloud Nine Cafe employee, said she is excited about Trump’s visit.
“It is an amazing thing to have our president visit our small town and at the same time I’m excited because I am a Trump supporter,” Brown said.
She said she is excited about the upswing in the economy and foreign relations under Trump’s leadership.
Nikki Sawmiller, Wapakoneta Police Department dispatcher and records clerk, said the department is working with the White House’s Secret Service to ensure safety.
“We are putting together a safety plan and assisting them with what they need,” Sawmiller said.
John Bergman, Auglaize County GOP chair, said it is important to show Pratt Industries’ operations to Trump that he said he hopes will generate ideas.
“It bodes well that good things can happen in Auglaize County that Trump is interested in coming here,” Bergman said. He said he hopes Trump will get a sense of the work ethic in Wapak as well as the hospitality.
Greg Myers, Wapakoneta Area Economic Development Council executive director, said the president is coming to visit a major foreign investment project.
“Pratt Industries is a $500 million project in Wapakoneta that will employee over 300 people and is a major economic development project for our region and community,” Myers said.
Myers said Trump is looking for projects that represent direct investment in the United States and to employees in the U.S. in the world’s largest consumer market.
Tom Stinebaugh, Wapakoneta mayor, said he is thrilled Trump is coming to Wapakoneta and he has been getting inundated with phone calls from people wondering if they can attend.
“With Pratt Industries being there and the president’s relationship with owner Anthony Pratt it’s huge and will help us in the long run,” Stinebaugh said. He said if people want to start a business they can come to Wapakoneta and will be welcomed.
Reach the writer at 567-242-0362.