WELLSBURG – Visitors to the Wellsburg Applefest will have a chance to view a short documentary about the history of Brooke Glass and view a portion of a mural commemorating the former business, which was the last of many glass factories that once operated in the city. Carrie Staton of the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center said the 10-minute documentary includes several interviews with people with knowledge of the factory, which operated for 135 years – first as Riverside Glass, then as Crescent Glass and finally as Brooke Glass. Plans were made Thursday to show the film at the Brooke County Museum and Cultural Center during the Applefest, which will be held Oct. 2-4. Article Photos BROOKE GLASS DISCUSSION — Frank Johnson of the Wellsburg Applefest Committee, far left, asks a question of Marvin Six of the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle; and Carrie Staton of the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center during a meeting about the Brooke Glass property Thursday at the Brooke County Salvation Army Service Center. — Warren Scott There also are plans to display in front of the museum one of three panels that will make up the commemorative mural. Staton said the panel will most likely be the portion created by Austin Isinghood, a Wellsburg native and graphic designer working for the brownfield assistance center. The mural was suggested by Pat Kirby, the center's director, as a way to preserve the history of the business, which is set to be demolished to allow for future development. Plans call for the completed mural to be displayed at the site or another prominent place. At the center's suggestion, Isinghood invited children and adults to paint two of the three murals at an event in April where former Brooke Glass employees and others were invited to share stories with West Virginia University students compiling an oral history of the factory. Recruited from WVU's cultural resource management class, the students included Alex Jebbia and Alex Villaseran. Staton said, unfortunately, Henry Rithner III, Brooke Glass' last president, was too ill to be interviewed. Rithner died on May 16 at the age of 84 following a lengthy illness. Rithner earned a degree in chemistry at Bethany College and completed graduate studies in glass manufacturing at the New York State Ceramics School to prepare himself for his role in his family's business. A Korean War veteran, he also was active in the Wellsburg Elks and Lions clubs and the Brooke County Salvation Army advisory council. A briefcase that belonged to Rithner and containing his calling cards is included in the museum's glass room. The room includes many samples of glass produced by the company and other factories that once operated in the county. Ruby Greathouse, a member of the museum's board, said it will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 2 and 3 and from noon to 5 p.m. Oct. 4, with Applefest co-chairman Michael O'Brien scheduled to appear there as Johnny “Appleseed” Chapman on Oct. 3. She noted air conditioning has been restored at the museum. The Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle acquired the Brooke Glass building and two acres on which it sits last year and has been working with the brownfields assistance center toward its rehabilitation. Since then the economic development agency has used a $77,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to assess cleanup costs and $27,000 of its own funds to properly dispose of chemicals stored there. In May the BDC was awarded a $250,000 EPA grant for the cleanup efforts, which include demolition of the building, which was found to be deteriorating; removal of asbestos and remediation of the land, which contains benzopyrene and arsenic, both used in producing glass. Marvin Six, the BDC's deputy director, was asked about progress on cleanup efforts at the former glass factory. He said bid specs are being prepared for the work with hope the grant will cover the entire cleanup. Six said the BDC hopes the building can be razed later this year, making the site available for new development by spring at the earliest.
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