MARTINS FERRY - Officials from the city and county were out in full force to welcome National Lime & Stone Co. when the business held its official ribbon cutting to celebrate its expansion in town.
The site is about 10 acres, leased from the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad.
Mayor Paul Riethmiller welcomed the newest business and all in attendance.
T-L Photo/ ROBERT A. DEFRANK
A ribbon cutting greeted National Lime & Stone Company’s formal welcome to Martins Ferry. Mayor Paul Riethmiller, Timothy DiBerardino, vice president of marketing and distribution for the business, Bill Callison, president of Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad, and various political delegates or their representatives were in attendance.
"Today is a great day for our city, our county, and the entire Ohio Valley," he said, noting the planning and cooperation involved. He added that the city has made strides in marketing all it has to offer future businesses who are considering locating in Martins Ferry.
"Our city has been blessed to be located on the banks of the great Ohio River," he said, noting the nearby railroads and highway. "Rail lines and our highways are still vital components to the economic development of our city, county, and state."
He added that this was only the first of several upcoming announcements related to businesses locating in the city and investing millions locally.
"Thank you for believing in our city," he said.
Timothy DiBerardino, vice president of marketing and distribution, spoke about the site and operation. The hundred-year-old company operates in Ohio and western Pennsylvania.
He thanked the city, the railroad and county port authority for their cooperation.
"This site is a significant long-term investment in the community," he said, adding that they targeted this market due to the shortage of local quality limestone.
He said the operation begins when the limestone is mined, processed and crushed at Carey quarry, which employs about 30 people. The stone is loaded into 60-car unit trains. The Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad transports trains to the Martins Ferry facility. It is unloaded at the site for use in various projects such as contractors, asphalt and concrete production, Ohio Department of Transportation projects, commercial and residential projects, the Utica Shale pads and roads and the general public.
DiBerardino noted afterward that they have been in operation in the site for about a month. They will hire several employees to manage the site and load and unload the stone.
"This is a multimillion dollar investment, and it's a long-term significant investment in the community," he said. "Ultimately this new rail yard will bring additional tax revenue to the city."
About 200,000-400,000 tons of limestone will be processed yearly, with about 30,000 per month.
Bill Callison, president of Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad, spoke about the cooperation required.
He noted the railroad and National Lime & Stone have worked for five years to make the move possible and thanked the local community, state and federal officials for their assistance.
"We thank you very much for making this happen for National Lime & Stone," he said, adding that his rail lines carry between one and two million tons of stone for them. "It is a first-class outfit."
Callison said their partnership with businesses such as this one have allowed the railroad to grow.
"This is a significant new market. High-quality dolomite limestone can reach this market and we're very pleased to be able to serve it," he said.
Ben Keeler, field representative and deputy press secretary for Rep. Bill Johnson, 6th District, read a proclamation from Johnson, recognizing the benefits of the new business.
Jason Wilson, director of the governor's office of Appalachia, seconded the congratulations and spoke about the area's rich manufacturing history and Ohio's future in the leading local role as economic development of the nation as oil and gas industries develop.
"The state of Ohio is looking to us," he said.
Sen. Lou Gentile also highlighted southeast Ohio's assets and potential.
"With the emerging oil and gas industry, our opportunities could be limitless," he said.
State Rep. Jack Cera, 95th District, spoke about the importance of maintaining the rail lines for the economic prosperity it would bring, along with river or highway access.
Greg L. DiDonato, executive director of the Ohio Mid Eastern Governments Association, thanked the state and federal offices for providing funds for economic development dealing with roadways, rail and water and sewer. He noted the high demand for rail and road access in the 10 counties his group works with.
Belmont County Port Authority Director Larry Merry was credited with his work during the past four years. Merry congratulated the community for their team spirit in taking advantage of economic growth and moving the community forward.
"We're continuing to see growth and trying to encourage that growth," he said.
County Auditor Andrew Sutek added his praise, noting the area will likely see further economic development.
"It's a new blood shot to this town," he said.
DeFrank can be reached at email@example.com