Commission hears of BDC efforts

WELLSBURG – The Brooke County Commission on Tuesday received updates on an Italian manufacturer's plans to move into the Three Springs Business Park in Weirton and efforts to rehabilitate the former Brooke Glass factory in Wellsburg. Pat Ford, executive director of the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle, said Pietro Fiorentini USA has secured a $1 million loan from the U.S. Economic Development Authority to purchase equipment for a 71,000 square foot facility it plans to build on 17 acres at the business park. Ford said the Italian company, which makes valves, meters and other parts for the natural gas industry, has been operating temporarily in Wheeling while making plans to build in Weirton. Article Photos     He said Fiorentini recently also signed an option agreement giving them exclusive rights to the property, which is behind the rue21 parking area. Ford said the BDC will work with Fiorentini to prepare the site, including extending an access road there. He said together the work amounts to a $9 million investment in the site that will result in 31 jobs, with more possible if the company carries out plans to build another 42,000-square-foot facility later. Ford said there are other hurdles to overcome, and construction of the first facility isn't expected to begin until late 2015 or early 2016. Ford also told the commission while pursuing a Phase 2 environmental assessment of the Brooke Glass site, hazardous materials were found that had to be removed immediately. Ford said following the meeting, chemicals were found in glass jars stored in the building during a walk through of the plant with federal and state environmental protection officials and were transported for proper disposal. He said half of the $25,000 cost for their disposal will be borne by a $77,000 EPA grant awarded for the environmental assessment, while the BDC will pay the rest. Ford said with the help of the Northern West Virginia Brownfield Assistance Center, the BDC will apply for a $200,000 grant to pursue a more extensive cleanup at the site, including the removal of asbestos and any hazardous material at the site. The Brooke Glass site is among several former industrial sites the BDC hopes to rehabiliate for future economic development. The commission also: – Heard from Rhonda Stubbs, executive director of A Child's Place Court-Appointed Special Advocates, who said release of an $8,864 Governor's Community Participation Grant has been halted by the West Virginia Development Office because a letter of protest was filed. A nonprofit group, A Child's Place CASA trains volunteers to represent the interests of children involved in court cases involving abuse and neglect in Brooke and Hancock counties. Stubbs and Michael Thompson, chairman of CASA's volunteer board of directors, said the grant will allow the nonprofit group to install electrical wiring and provide heat for its new office at 613 Main St. Stubbs said the group has been working to pay off past bills, including rent owed for its previous location, but the grant can't be used for debt. She said she's not been given a copy of the letter of protest and asked the commissioners to intervene on her behalf. – Heard from Evelyn Leas, whose mother owns property on Eldersville Road through which the Brooke County Public Service District plans to extend a sewer line. Leas said she disputes the district's appraisal of her property and has written to its attorney about the matter but not heard from him. She was told his response could be delayed by a recent death in the attorney's family. – Signed a proclamation declaring October Breast Cancer Awareness Month at the request of the women of the Community Educational Outreach Service club and joined them in placing a wreath of pink flowers outside the county courthouse to promote awareness of the disease. The proclamation stated an estimated 1,340 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and 289 will die, but early detection greatly reduces the risk of death for those with breast cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends yearly mammograms for women 40 and older, a clinical breast examination every three years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and older. Women in their 20s are encouraged to perform self-examinations following the instructions of their health care providers.