Renewed Hope

HOPE SPRINGS eternal. And Congressman Bill Johnson’s visit to Yorkville Monday renews hope that the long idled steel mill in the village will again return to production.

Johnson toured the Ohio Coatings facility. Much of his dialogue, however, centered on the future of the shuttered Ohio Cold Rolling Corp. It has had several names, including Esmark and Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel.

The once thriving steel plant has been closed since late 2011. Many rumors of reopening have surfaced since then, yielding only frustration.

James Bouchard is CEO and chairman of Esmark, which currently owns 51 percent of the shares in Ohio Cold Rolling Corp. Bouchard’s plans to get the plant back online have rang hollow.

However, Johnson’s visit may serve as a harbinger for positive change in Yorkville.

Johnson and Ohio Coatings president Jim Tennant revealed Monday that the mill may soon come under new ownership. They noted that, “on April 4, there was a letter of intent signed from an interested party to potentially invest and buy out part of the shares in both the Ohio Cold Rolling Corp. as well as Ohio Coatings and that’s going through the due diligence phase right now.”

Tennant believes the process will play out in some six weeks. It is safe to say, laid-off mill workers and the entire Yorkville community will have heightened optimism.

Only a handful of workers are currently employed at the Yorkville mill. Should it re-open at full capacity, more than 200 steelworkers will be manning the facility. Such a scenario would prove a major shot-in-the-arm to Yorkville, the steel industry and countless families feeling the effects of layoffs.

All those connected to the Yorkville steel mill have been down this road before. Hopefully, this time it leads to a reopened facility working at capacity.