Weirton Chamber awards Christmas parade trophies

Weirton Chamber awards Christmas parade trophies

WEIRTON — The Weirton Area Chamber of Commerce has announced the award recipients for this year’s Weirton Christmas Parade, which was held Nov. 27 with a theme of “Weirton Wonderland.”

Trophies were presented Monday at the Weirton Chamber offices for the following categories:

Large Float: Lombardi Development, first place

XX Large Float: Cleveland Cliffs and John D. Rockefeller Career Center, tie for first place

Mini-float: Chambers and James Funeral Homes, first place; Dance by Hillary, second place

Decorated Vehicle/Specialty Unit: Rust Belt Jeep Alliance, first place; Army National Guard, second place

Performance Group (Dance Troupe, Walkers, Strollers, Carolers): Dancy by Hillary, first place; Weir Middle School Cheerleaders, second place

Best Band Sound: Brooke High School

Chamber officials noted there were close to 70 entries in the parade.

Sponsors for the 2021 Weirton Christmas Parade were Nick’s Auto, West Virginia Northern Community College, Summer’s Enterprise and Best You Boutique.

Fireworks sponsors were Encompass Health, Hancock County Savings Bank, Nick’s Auto, First Choice America Federal Credit Union, Tomtreyco/McDonald’s, and Window World, with Summer’s Enterprise serving as the grand finale sponsor.

Cameron High School Athletic Complex Unveiled

Cameron High School Athletic Complex Unveiled

A major overhaul to the adjoining sports facility of Cameron High School is now in its final stages, and school officials are ready to show visitors what the Dragons’ lair looks like on the inside.

Overhauling the Dragon Stadium Athletic Complex began in January 2020, and M&G Architects and Engineers were tasked with a tricky setup — with limited room to expand outward, due to an already tight parking situation, the existing fieldhouse and concession area were instead renovated on the spot and built upward, while additional work was done along the sides of a nearby road to reinforce them. In total, the square footage was increased from around 4,300 to 12,425, at a cost of around $3.2 million. Construction was handled by Lombardi Development Co.

Marshall County Facilities Director Mike Price and CHS Athletics Director Roger Cain gave a tour of the new complex at the Board of Education meeting Tuesday evening. Earlier in the day, the directors did a walkthrough to show off the facility in the morning sun.

“The only thing we didn’t do was replace concrete in the block,” Price said. “Everything else has been re-engineered — we upgraded electric, we upgraded gas, we upgraded lighting, safety alarms, all those things.”

The first floor consists of a new locker room for referees, a visitor’s locker room that doubles as the middle school wrestling practice room, a middle school locker room, restrooms, and a newly outfitted concession stand. The middle school locker room, Cain added, was a massive improvement itself, as student athletes now have a place to stow their gear during the school day.

The facility’s upper story had several rooms serving multiple purposes, allowing multiple teams to practice at once. A 103-foot room runs the length of one side of the building, which provides space for an archery practice range, but also a mound surrounded by netting for pitching and batting practice. A large room with high ceilings serves as the central room on the upper story, allowing gymnastics, cheerleading and wrestling. This room is also used for community events, such as junior wrestling. Basketball will continue to be held in the two gyms of the high school.

Prior to the construction of the new facility, Price said, athletes of all stripes had to share the two gyms at Cameron High School, which seriously limited the amount of time available.

“They had to share the gym, and that’s why this is such a needed facility,” Cain said. “Year round, they’re doing all these things, and trying to utilize the same gym everyone else wants a piece of. They tried to schedule time, so the athletic directors’ challenges were, basketball is here until 9, archery maybe until 10 or 11, and with wrestling and everything else going on.”

The second floor also hosts a spacious and modern locker room, with an adjoining coach’s office connecting to a conference room. That room will double as an athletic training classroom. A training room and equipment room round out the top floor.

In the future, Cain said there are plans to establish a Hall of Fame — academic, athletic, and for any other purpose — in the vestibule.

The complex, now two stories, towers over the field, which itself was recently renovated, with turf and high-end material replacing a field that was grass only a few years ago. The field was partially damaged in the floods in June, but after two days of cleanup work, had been restored, good as new.

Cain added that with the pandemic last year, he’s eager to see the field and athletic complex finally be able to welcome returning fans and players at the same time.

Price added that the Cameron community has been fantastic in its support of the project and the Dragons, extending that support to the taxpayers of Marshall County who fund the school district.

“I can’t believe how well-received the community is. They’ve been nothing but gracious during this whole process,” Price said.

Follansbee chamber honors local manufacturing firms

Follansbee chamber honors local manufacturing firms

FOLLANSBEE — In observance of National Manufacturing Week, the Follansbee Chamber of Commerce has recognized five local businesses for the vital role they play in the local economy and community.

“We need to be grateful for the industries in our area because they employ a lot of our people. They also support the community in various ways, including contributing to festivals and free concerts in the park, sponsoring scholarships for students and helping us with community projects,” said Chamber President Debbie Puskarich.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has joined the chamber in acknowledging Eagle Manufacturing, a division of the Justrite Safety Group; Jupiter Aluminum; Lombardi Development; Mountain State Carbon; and Wheeling-Nippon Steel through a resolution in which he states: “In West Virginia we pride ourselves on working hard to support our families and striving to benefit our communities and our entire state, and that is what Manufacturing Week is all about. It is vital that we showcase the importance of manufacturing to the economy and draw attention to the many rewarding high-skill jobs that are available.”

Manchin noted the occasion offers “an opportunity to introduce state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities to a new generation of students and future workers. Partnerships between manufacturing businsses and educational institutions at all levels are essential in preparing students for careers today and in the future. Our state is fortunate to be the home of many great manufacturing facilities, some of which are world leaders in their respective fields, employing thousands of people.”

Established in Wellsburg in 1894, Eagle Manufacturing is a leading producer of safety cans, safety cabinets, poly drums, materials used in secondary spill containment and other products for the handling of industrial materials. In 2018, it became part of the Justrite Safety Group, another leader in the safety products industry.

Eagle was a founding and active member of the West Virginia Manufacturers Association in 1915 and has remained active in it during the years, supporting its educational fund and establishing the Explore the New Manufacturing campaign to encourage middle school students and others to consider careers in manufacturing.

Dave Harvey, vice president of operations at Eagle, noted that prior to the pandemic, students from Brooke, Ohio and Marshall counties often visited the company’s facilities, where they viewed robotics, 3D printers and other state of the art equipment in use.

“We have shown them how a concept can go from idea to prototype within our plant,” Harvey said.

Jupiter Aluminum has operated in Beech Bottom since 2013, when it moved into the former Wheeling Steel Corrugating Plant. The former steel mill was acquired by the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle and Hackman Capital Partners and renamed the Beech Bottom Industrial Park.

Established in Hammond, Ind., in 1992, the company recycles aluminum scrap for use in construction materials, including gutters, screens and vents; recreational vehicles, irrigation lines used on many farms and other products ranging from cookware to license plates.

Paul-Henri Chevalier, the company’s chief executive officer, noted, “Since its start in Beech Bottom, Jupiter Aluminum has been investing in its business and strengthening ties within the community. We expect to be one of the largest employers in the area for years to come.”

The company invested a 10-year lease for its space in the industrial park in 2017 and has invested $9 million in renovations to the former steel mill benefiting itself and potential future tenants there.

Lombardi Development was established in 1999 by Follansbee natives Paul and Karolee Lombardi and grew quickly from a small construction company to a builder and renovator of homes, administrative offices, medical facilities, churches, government facilities and academic buildings.

Lombardi Development has headquarters in Follansbee, Morgantown and Bonita Springs, Fla., where it has constructed custom-built homes.

The business was named the chamber’s Corporate Business of the Year for its community involvement, which has included contributions to the Bruins Helping Bruins clothes closet and food pantry and other nonprofit groups.

Mountain State Carbon’s roots can be traced to 1917, when the Follansbee plant was a major supplier of steel for the then emerging auto industry and soon after, military equipment used during World War I.

Today it supplies carbon, stainless and electrical materials for many products, including automobiles, appliances, buildings, culverts, cutlery and cookware as well as heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, industrial motors and power transformers.

It is one of many facilities operated by AK Steel, a subsidiary of Cleveland Cliffs Inc. As part of the AK Steel Cares program, Mountain State Carbon employees and vendors serving the company have donated hundreds of pounds of food to the Follansbee R.E.A.C.H. Program, a local food pantry.

Monetary contributions to the charity also have been made by the United Steelworkers of America, which represents many of the 265 employed by the plant.

Established in 1986 as Wheeling-Nisshin Inc., Wheeling-Nippon Steel has applied protective, corrosive-resistant coatings to millions of tons of steel used in agriculture, automotive manufacturing, construction, solar power and many other industries.

In recent years, $28 million was invested in the Follansbee plant to allow it to produce ZAM, an extremely durable zinc aluminum and magnesium alloy developed by its parent company in Japan and found in Brooke Middle School and along Follansbee streets and other roads.

The company’s community involvement has included awarding numerous scholarships to Brooke High School seniors and donating $100,000 for renovations to the city’s baseball fields.

Officials with all of the businesses stressed a good education as a prerequisite for careers in manufacturing and construction.

“Students and young adults looking for a career in construction are best prepared if they enter a trade school and/or participate in high school construction courses. Students should seek construction jobs during the summer to gain hands-on experience. Having a strong work ethic with the desire to grow your career through on-the-job experiences will help advance your career quickly. Lombardi Development Company is always interested in hiring individuals who are eager to learn,” said Joe Lombardi, Lombardi Development’s director of business development.

Drew Vrotsos, operations manager at Mountain State Carbon, said as a growing number of long-time employees retire, the company looks to fill their positions with qualified new recruits.

He said a test is used to determine each applicant’s basic mechanical and electrical aptitude, with eyes geared currently toward those suited for electrical, mechanical and electronic maintenance as well as production jobs.

“There’s a very big shortage of crafts people in the steel industry,” he said.

Harvey said Eagle and other manufacturing firms need machinists, electronics maintenance workers and those who can program robots and other machines.

“Those are skill sets we’re always looking for,” he said.

Lombardi Development Company is blessed to be able to continue to support the community

Lombardi Development Company is blessed to be able to continue to support the community

FOLLANSBEE – Lombardi Development Company is blessed through the hard work and dedication of our employees to be able to continue to support the community. A check was presented to the Bruins Helping Bruins to help fill the food program needs. LDC Employees also spent an afternoon building “Free Pantries”. Two of the pantries will be donated to the Brooke County Public Library and Follansbee Branch for books the community can take or leave. The other two will be donated to the Community Bread Basket, Inc. so food will be accessible if there is a need when they are closed.

Group Dedicates Time Capsule

Group Dedicates Time Capsule

WEIRTON — The members of the Leadership Ohio Valley Class of 2019 have made their mark on the community, and they hope to see it remain for years to come.

Saturday morning, members of the class, along with special guests, gathered behind the Mary H. Weir Public Library to unveil their work on the revitalized outdoor art gallery and garden.

“The 2019 graduating class is here today to make a memory, hopefully make a tradition,” class member Joe Lombardi said.

In recent months, the Leadership Ohio Valley participants have uncovered a sidewalk which led to a house once on the property, purchased new benches and planted flowers around the displays for the outdoor art gallery. A new lamp post also was installed.

As part of the project, the group also commissioned a time capsule which was buried in the gallery Saturday.

The capsule, which has been marked with a plaque and a paving stone in the gallery, contains copies of The Weirton Daily Times, photographs of the class, a letter discussing Leadership Ohio Valley and other items selected by the class. Plans are for it to be uncovered in May 2029.

“It’s an idea for people to see life 10 years past, and see the subtle changes or hopefully the large changes,” Lombardi said.

Others noted the items in the time capsule will showcase the bonds formed by the class through their experiences together.

“Our class has developed a camaraderie like I have never experienced,” Alexis Russell said. “We now have a lifelong connection.”

In addition to planning their activities and learning together, the class also went through several life events, with one member having a baby during the program. Shortly after their graduation in June, the group also experienced loss with the death of classmate Tom Bowman. A moment of silence was held in Bowman’s honor Saturday, and a sign hung near the entrance of the gallery shows the work has been dedicated in his memory.

DeeAnn Pulliam said she was grateful for the experiences, as they created new friendships while also helping her to integrate more in the community.

“We had a really fun class,” she said. “There was probably more laughter than seriousness.”

Members of the 2019 Class of Leadership Ohio Valley, and their sponsors, were Alexis Russell, Follansbee Chamber of Commerce; Anthony Bernardi, Greco-Hertnick Funeral Home; DeeAnn Pulliam, City of Weirton; Deidra Edwards, Hancock County Savings Bank; Joe Lombardi, Lombardi Development Co.; Kaylee Richter, Hancock County Savings Bank; Kerri Freshwater, Weirton Geriatric Center; Missy Mikula, Howard Hanna Mortimer Realty; Stephanie O’Brien, Weirton Area Chamber of Commerce; Staci Breen, Weirton Medical Center Physician Practices; and Tom Bowman, Weirton Heights Rotary and Wellspring Family Services.

Leadership Ohio Valley is organized through the Weirton Chamber, and President Brenda Mull expressed her pride in the class.

“I hope you continue to bond,” she said.

Debbie Puskarich, president of the Follansbee Chamber, said she has known of the Leadership program for many years, and is glad to see it growing into other communities of the region.

“I think it is a great program,” she told the class.

Weirton Mayor Harold Miller also was on hand, thanking the class for their efforts to preserve local history with the time capsule.

“When you open this in 10 years, it’s going to be interesting to see how our community has grown,” he said.

Area businesses and organizations contributing to the project included the John D. Rockefeller IV Career Center, Iannetti’s Garden Center, Morelli Brothers Block and Brick Co., Atlantis Technologies LLC, Lombardi Development Co., American Muscle Docks, the Follansbee Chamber of Commerce, Serra Village Retirement Community and Busy Beaver Building Centers Inc.

The plaque showing the location of the time capsule was made possible by an anonymous donor.

The class also offered its thanks to Rik Rekowski and the members of the Mary H. Weir Public Library Board for allowing the project.