MARTINS FERRY - The city accepted an up-front check for $729,434.97 for the leasing of the mineral rights for 147 acres of property to XTO Energy.
Port Authority Director Larry Merry noted this was a culmination of effort from many sides.
"We are pleased to be able to facilitate this happening," he said. "This is one piece of the efforts of the leaders of this city."
MARTINS FERRY leased the mineral rights to city-owned acreage Wednesday. Pictured, from left, are Belmont County Auditor Andrew Sutak, Councilman Russell Armstrong, Mayor Paul Riethmiller, Port Authority Director Larry Merry and Belmont County Commissioner Matt Coffland.
"It's a great thing for the city," said Belmont County Auditor Andrew Sutak. "It's the tip of the iceberg with the way oil and gas is coming."
Mayor Paul Riethmiller credited a number of people including Councilman Russell Armstrong for initiating the process, Charles Bell Jr. for contract work and attorney Ed Sustersic for his work on deed transfers.
"We're pretty excited about it. It will help us," he said, adding that a well could be drilled in one to two years. Afterward, the city would see monthly royalties. "It's good news for us. It's a great day for Martins Ferry."
The XTO check will be deposited into the general fund account. The street department is currently low and may make use of some of the funds. The property is located in the area of the high school and cemetery.
In addition, Riethmiller noted that the city will see further development next month when an oil business moves into a location on First Street mid-October. He said this represents an investment of millions, some jobs and a significant tax base. The business will make use of the highway and river with barge traffic. Work on the riverside is ongoing, with dredging and construction of docking facilities expected.
The company's purchase of an added tract of land is also expected.
However, he observed that state has continued to cut local government funding. They faced $60,000 in cuts this year and the likelihood of more cuts next year.
"I know we need to be careful with this money," he said.
Sutek is building a petition addressing the issue of local government to take to the state.
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