The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

September 24, 2013

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown celebrates Plant C renovation groundbreaking

ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP — For 33 of his 37 years with First Energy, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s father-in-law worked at the former First Energy Plant C pumping station in Ashtabula Township.

Brown held his father-in-law’s hard hat, that he wore as a maintenance worker at the plant, while he addressed local and state dignitaries as well as former employees of the plant during a groundbreaking celebration Monday signifying the start of $3 million renovation project.

Brown, along with countless others, recognizes Plant C, which pumps 20 million gallons of water to local industries every day, as the future of economic development in Ashtabula County.

When First Energy announced, back in 2005, its plans to shut-down the plant, county officials stepped in to make sure that didn’t happen.

Ashtabula County Commissioner Joe Moroski said the birth of the renovation project began almost a decade ago the same way many births do, with a panicked phone call. The call announced the complete closure of Plant C, its water pumping facility and the prospective loss of more than 1,200 of the best paying jobs in the county.

“The Board of Commissioners, along with the County Port Authority, who would come to lead this effort, began immediately to plan to keep the water flowing and the jobs and paychecks growing,” he said.

Moroski said a power grid failure in the eastern U.S. and Canada, resulting in the restart of the facility, demonstrated the condition of the piping system when ruptures showed piping to be almost rusted away and essentially nonexistent. There was a lot to be done with the infrastructure from the intake lines to the pumps, he said.

“Fast forward to today, following millions of dollars of investment in this facility with much more yet to come,” he said. “The achievements are remarkable.”

Since 2006, when the county purchased the plant, the Port Authority has worked with state and federal agencies to redevelop Plant C. The county has spent more than $7 million remediating environmentally hazardous materials off of the site.

Sean Ratican, Ashtabula County Port Authority Executive Director, said more than 1 million pounds of asbestos was removed from the plant.

 Another $3 million will be put into the plant with the renovation of the pumping system, Ratican said.

The project will replace more than 100 linear feet of pipeline within the plant, renovate four water pumps and provide new electrical switch gear and feeder lines into the plant. The project is being made possible because of a $1.55 million U.S. Department of Economic Development grant.

 Ratican said, the project is truly a shining example of public and private partnership.

State Rep. John Patterson said, Lake Erie is the county’s future and its not going away. He congratulated county officials for having the vision to make the Plant C renovation a reality.

“Together we can do great things,” he said.

Brown agreed with Patterson saying Lake Erie is key to economic development. He said when he and his staff visited Ashtabula County, they recognized the potential the county could have with the EDA grant.

“Thank you to everyone in the community who helped make this happen,” he said.

Ratican said the project would not have happened without the county’s private partners, Praxair and Cristal.

“Together we will grow this region,” he said.

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