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Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
Charles Town, West Virginia
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November 14, 2018     Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
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November 14, 2018
 

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PAGE A10 ~dnesdav; November 14, 2018 NEWS SPIRIT of .JEFFERSON and EM{MER'S ADVOCATE By TIM COOK Special to the Spirit CHARLES TOWN - Jefferson County Commissioners are expected this week to discuss Friday's resigna- tion of a dozen members of the coun- ty's Economic Development Author- ity. The 12 called it quits just days after the board had been expected to vote on financing for the Rockwool manufacturing plant being built in Ranson. The board members' departure came after a Wednesday request from JCC President Josh Compton to delay for the third time a vote over "My personal feeling is I'm tired of fighting, and if other people think they can do a better job [on the Jefferson County Development Authority] and it's so easy, let them." I DAN CASTO, who resigned Friday from the JCDA I whether to accept proposed West opment rights, and who previously very little power. There is no grand inject $7.5 million directly into the Virginia Department of Commerce- voted as a JCDA board member to conspiracy it was a bunch of vol- local and area's economy, a boost financing arrangement for a new wa- authorize the state funding arrange- unteers doing the best job that they that was quickly overlooked or dis- ter line to serve the $150 million in- ment. could." missed, Martz said. sulation factory being built by the Onoszko was defeated by formerHe said he is concerned the county "At some point you have to diver- Denlnark-based Rockwool Group. county prosecutor Ralph Lorenzetti, could face legal liability if the gov- sify you economy," he said, adding Eric Lewis, the president of the who opposed the construction of the emment disregards commitments that a big non-industrial employer 20-member board of directors, hand- plant, given to Rockwool, a position that to the county would also bring pol- delivered resignation letters of those In his email, Compton told JCDA the nonprofit Jefferson County Vi- lution from the cars those workers board members, including his own, members should hold off on casting sion and other Rockwool opponents would drive. to the JCC's Charles Town office, a vote they might not be comfortable dispute. Martz said he was comfortable Nearly all of those who resigned making. " I think it would abso- He said continuing to delay the with the amount of information he supported authorizing a -$7 million lutely prudent to request an exten- vote on the water line funding while received about the Rockwool project bond to cover the cost of the water sion of the vote timeline rather than he served on JCDA would make him as a JCDA board member. The in- line's construction. Sandra Brun- making a decision they may or may a participant in allowing the JCDAto formation he received in public and iRg, who was appointed last month not be confident doing," Compton avoid its mission and obligations. So executive sessions was timely and as the board's labor representative, wrote, he joined the others in resigning, complete in a transparent process resigned before attending her first But former board member Dan Ben Martz, a business professor that was open for all board members, meeting. Casto indicated Compton's email to at Shepherd University, said he de- he said. Lewis said there remained too delay the vote was the final straw for cided to resign from the JCDA board Martz said seven residents attend- much disagreement within the com- a board that had endured withering after concluding that opponents of ed JCDA meetings in the year be- munity to support voting on the wa- attacks from the community because the Rockwool factory wouldn't be fore the Rockwool protests erupted ter line financing, of Rockwool. swayed with facts or reasoning, and no one voiced concerns about "Unfortunately, it has become ap- He said board members had grown "Part of the frustration [for JCDA the factory. He said he agrees with parent that there are serious differ- weary and worn down by unfair board members] was hearing corn- some residents opposing the Rock- ences of opinion regarding the future character attacks, outright smears ments that don't make sense--they'r wool factory that the public notifi- of economic development in Jef- and false accusations by vehement not on point," he said. "Part of it has cation process about industrial eco- ferson County," Lewis wrote in his anti-Rockwool protesters, to do with not being able to get into nomic development projects should statement. "A segment of the citizen- "None of us signed up for this," he a conversation. You get into a lot of be reviewed to improve the public ry objects to certain types of manu- said. "It's not worth it for an unpaid emotion." notification process. facturing that we as a board believed position when you don't really have One too-lightly considered com- Rockwool officials say the change to be a positive to the community any power to begin with." plaint the JCDA received from Rock- in makeup of the Development Au- Our decisions have been challenged Casto said he has been threatened wool opponents, Martz said, was thority board doesn't impact the and our integrity questioned. That is in online comments, in notes left on why hasn't the county's economic company's plans to build its 460,000- quite unfortunate We did what we his doorstep, and by threatening calls development efforts attracted high- square-foot factory. thought was best for Jefferson Coun- made at his workplace and church, tech industries and non-smokestack "We want to be very clear with the ry and had no ill intent an no ulterior The attacks against him continued warehouse companies with lighter community that we will fulfdl the motives. It is quite unfortunate that online even after he submitted his pollution footprints than the Rock- commitments we have made and will these good people, and I include my- resignation Friday, he said. wool factory, continue to build the factory, make self in that group, have been attacked "My personal feeling is I'm tired But, he pointed out, the water and the investment, and create the jobs so viciously." of fighting," Casto said,"and if other sewer lines that state has offered to and economic activity that we've Compton declined to comment on people think they can do a better job build to support the Rockwool fac- said we will," wrote Michael Zarin, the JCDA board resignations or the and it's so easy, let them." tory is commercial infrastructure the a spokesman for the company. JCC's response, except to point to Casto said many anti-Rockwool county needs to also attract those Opposition to the construction of the statement he posted on his per- protestors don't seem to realize that high-tech companies to the county, the factory began weeks after its cer- sonal Facebook page one day after the JCDA doesn't have much author- Doing the math averaging on the emonial groundbreaking when coun- the election, which saw the defeat ity to stop the project. "Look, gov- local incomes the Rockwool factory ty residents and others raised con- of Republican Peter Onoszko, who eming is hard," he added. "They're workforce - 150 new jobs with av- cems aboutthe level of pollutants the defended Rockwool's legal devel- going to figure out quickly they have erage salaries of $50,000 - would plant would be emitting and its prox, imity to North Jefferson Elementa- ry School. Opponents, who also ob- jected to government support for the heavy industrial facility, said the fac- tory will undermine Jefferson Coun- ty's tourism, agriculture and horse racing industries. West Virginia Department of Envi- ronmental Protection regulators have issued assurances that air pollution levels from the factory's two smoke- stacks would be safe for people and the environment. JCV, formed by residents this sum- mer, released a statement last week calling the board change as a step to- ward a new strategic direction. The group has sought to disband or reorganize the JCDA, a demand that prompted the JCC to adopt a resolu- tion of support for the work of the authority's staff and its volunteer board members and staff. The JCV called the resignations of board members a "terrific oppor- tunity to move forward with posi- tive, consensus economic vision that creates growth while improving the quality of life in Jefferson County." Along with Lewis, Martz and Cas- to, the board members who resigned were: Mike Chapman, director of in- formation technology forRoyal Ven- dors in Keameysville and the JC- DA's vice president; tourism repre- sentative Annette Gavin Bates, CEO of Jefferson County Convention & Visitors Bureau; Shepherdstown representative Howard S. Mills, a re- tired businessman; Jim Ruland, man- aging partner of RAI Properties in Keameysville; Michael Shepp, a re- tired businessman; Steve Stolipher, a commercial real estate manager and developer and vice president of the Jefferson County Planning Commis- sion; Laura Whittington, town man- ager for Bolivar; and Harry Wilkins, a retired executive with American Public University in Charles Town. Nine board members remain on the JCDA board. Those include Neil McLaughlin, an executive with Jef- ferson Medical Center in Ranson; Andy Blake, city manager of Ran- son; Darryl Hennessy, city manager of Charles Town; Karan Townsend, a HarpersFerry representative; Charles Town real estate agent Tony Roberts; Lyle Tabb, a farmer and agriculture representative; and Julia Yuhasz, a Hospice of the Panhandle employee. The JCDA's next meeting is set for Dec. 18. McLaughlin will preside as the board's new vice president until a new president is chosen. ROBERT SNYDER Terri Burhans, director of Ranson Parks and Recreation, talks about "Ranson Walks," a new program that includes the chance to walk for fitness indoors from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays as well as set walking programs offered by the Jefferson County Committee on Aging and other offerings. Walks' ay through This evening's "Ranson Walks" kickoff event begins at 5 p.m. at the Ranson Civic Center at 431 W. Second Ave. with giveaways, blood pressure checks, remarks from Free- dora's Run racing series founder Dr. Mark Cucuzzella and more. Ranson Walks includes the oppor- tunity to walk for fitness indoors from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fri- days as well as set walking programs offered by the Jefferson County Com- mittee on Aging. There's also a Mile Marker program that will let participants track the miles they walk to eam prizes. WVU Med- icine, Ranson Parks and Recreation and the JCCOA are collaborating on the new walking program. At tonight's special event, anyone interested can get information from Two Rivers Treads, the Ranson run- ning outfitter begun by Cucuzzel- la, JCCOA, the Jefferson Activities Group and WVU Medicine. Walkers at Ranson Civic Center must fill out a registration and con- sent form, organizers say. Those who would like to track miles can join the Mile Marker program and begin earning rewards. The JCCOA's walking programs are offered free to anyone 50 or old- er as well as to the general public for a fee of $2 per class. The programs include Walk with Ease, tailored for those with arthri- tis to safely make physical activ- ity part everyday life, and Healthy Steps, where participants learn the Lebed Method, a therapy, exercise and movement that's been tied to en- hanced well-being for those with can- cer and other chronic illnesses. Walk with Ease will be offered from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays while Healthy Steps be- gins at 4 p.m. every Wednesday. Anyone in need of details may contact Terri Burhans, director of Ranson Parks and Recreation (304- 725-2437 or tburhans @ransonwv.us) or WVU Medicine health promotion coordinator Dana DeJarnett (304- 264-1287, ext. 31814, ddejarnett@ wvumedicine.org). Garden Clubs ,'Jefferson County ]December 8, 2018 IO 3 p.n Both Floors of the CHARLES TOWN LIBRARY 200 E. Washington Street, Chades Town, WV b'~xmsored bY the Dotley Madison Garden Club tt~ all proceeds going to the ~fferson Couney Museum. Not only a destination For holiday inspiration, but a t,Jay to give baCl~ to your cth'nmun~. i proud to Wa'ty, a young male Domestic Short Hair cat, is looking for a for- ever home, preferably one without dogs or children. He is current on all vaccinations and neutered. To visit him or any of the other wonderful dogs and cats waiting for homes, please visit the Animal Welfare Society shelter on Old Leetown Pike Road (just west of the county fairgrounds). Our public hours are Wed:Sat. 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. AND Sunday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Closed Mon. & Tues. Visit our website www.awsjc.org, Facebook, or call us at 304-725-0589.