Mahoning County Republican Party Chairman Thomas McCabe, Manning’s close friend, said Friday that during a conversation a few months before his death, Manning said: “If something happens to me, I want a bridge named after me.”
McCabe noted Friday, at a ceremony to name the state Route 164 bridge that spans Interstate 680 the Don Manning Memorial Bridge, that “we got it done. It’s nice to have a monument, a bridge named after him.”
Gov. Mike DeWine signed the bill Friday at a ceremony at the Ohio Department of Transportation District 4 outpost in North Lima, a short distance from the bridge.
Manning died March 20, 2020, less than 15 months into his first term in the Ohio House.
State Sen. Michael Rulli, R-Salem, a Manning friend, noted that Manning had unsuccessfully run for the Ohio House seat and others a number of times before his close 2018 victory. Rulli also won election that same year.
“Don never gave up,” Rulli said. “He never stopped. The guy was incredible. We both won. Besides having my children, it was my proudest moment winning that election with him.”
Rulli described Manning as a no-nonsense legislator.
“Don ran into the fire and he couldn’t care less,” Rulli said. “He had this ability in his character to rise to the occasion.”
The bill that DeWine signed into law Friday passed the Ohio House 98-0 on March 24 and the Senate 32-0 on June 24.
The bill was sponsored by state Rep. Al Cutrona, R-Canfield, who succeeded Manning in the House.
“It’s a celebration of his accomplishments,” Cutrona said. “Don Manning was respected and loved by Republicans and Democrats alike. He was truly a man of the people. This is an opportunity to remember his legacy.”
DeWine said Manning’s “passion for the Mahoning Valley was simply unsurpassed. He cared deeply about the Valley.”
State Rep. Tim Ginter, R-Salem and the House president pro tempore, said it was appropriate that a bridge and not a road was named for Manning.
“Don wanted to be a bridge between the people and Columbus,” he said. “A bridge is a connector and Don was a connector.”