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Yorkville plant cleanup grant discussed

November 2, 2012
Weirton Daily Times

STEUBENVILLE - The possibility of a state grant for cleanup of an industrial site in Yorkville was discussed during Thursday's Jefferson County commissioners' meeting.

Domenick Mucci, director of the Jefferson County Regional Planning Commission, said the agency was applying for a $1 million cleanup grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency's CleanOhio fund for cleanup of soil contamination at the former RG Steel Co.'s Yorkville plant. Mucci told commissioners although competition for the grant fund was fierce, he believed Ohio Gov. John Kasich's visit to the plant site in October was a good sign for obtaining the grant funds.

"We hope to be (awarded grant funds) since the governor visited the plant," said Mucci. "It's on his radar."

Esmark Steel purchased the plant in October, and its plans to reopen an idled cold-rolling mill in Yorkville hinge on obtaining the grant funds for cleanup of the site, Mucci continued.

Esmark Chairman and CEO Jim Bouchard said the Kasich administration was instrumental in closing the $6.5 million deal for the Yorkville mill, working with his company and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to develop a remediation plan that addresses unresolved chemical spills that former owner RG Steel neglected to correct two years ago.

In addition to the Yorkville mill, which will be known as Ohio Cold Rolling Co., Bouchard also acquired a 50 percent ownership stake in the nearby Ohio Coatings Co. tin plating facility, partnering with South Korea's TCC Steel.

During Thursday's meeting, Mucci asked commissioners to sign off on the grant application for the funds. He added regardless of whether Esmark reopened the Yorkville plant, the site still needs to be cleaned up, and he has been in touch with several other agencies on the matter. He added the United Steel Workers Local 1190 and Esmark have been negotiating a labor agreement, and he said up to 185 new jobs could be created if the plant re-opens. Mucci also said he would be discussing the matter with Yorkville Council members next week.

Commissioners commended Mucci for pursuing the grant funds and his leadership on the issue.

"I know the mayor of Yorkville, and he and the community are really excited," said Commissioner Tom Gentile.

Commissioner Dave Maple and Tom Graham also voiced their approval on developments. Mucci said the planning commission should know by May if the grant is approved.

In other matters:

Commissioners asked Shannan Gosbin, county sanitation engineer, and Jeff Rudzik of Rudzik Excavating Co., about delays and concerns about the progress of the Crestview-Belvedere sewer project.

Work began in June on the $11.4 million Crestview-Belvedere sewer project.The county had been under a state mandate to install sewers in the community for about 20 years. The sewers will serve about 330 homes.

The project has run into some snags, including elevation issues. Commissioners Thursday criticized MS Consultants, engineering firm for the project, for what they contend were issues related to the usage of a 20-year-old elevation study of the area. Gentile said he believes the firm should have conducted its own fresh survey.

"We're running into a lot of elevation (issues) out there," said Gentile, adding the consulting firm was "pointing fingers" back at the county. Gentile also asked Gosbin whether the Jefferson County Water and Sewer District was trying to find a way around bedrock encountered during the project. Gosbin and Rudzik said they are working on the issue and believe a solution will be found.

Maple said he'd been on the record in the past regarding his displeasure with MS Consultants. All three commissioners expressed gratitude to Gosbin and Rudzik for positive feed back regarding the project from involved county residents.

Commissioners adopted a proclamation designating November as Adoption Awareness Month.

Commissioners also approved the purchase of a generator to be used by the Jefferson County Board of Elections in the case of a power failure.

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