RANSON, W.Va. (WDVM) — A prospective major employer in the eastern panhandle got a green light from a Jefferson County court late last week. But for Rockwool Industries, there are more hurdles ahead.
The Denmark-based insulation manufacturer is a big economic development coup for West Virginia, a supplier to the building industry. But opponents have been vocal that with the good jobs come unwanted environmental impacts. And late last week a Jefferson County court struck down their objections to a zoning accommodation favorable to Rockwool. One local state legislator downplays the judge’s ruling.
“What happened in court last Friday was a skirmish,” says Del. John Doyle (D-Jefferson), “a very minor skirmish in a long fight. There are more battles to come.”
Rockwool just switched from coal to natural gas, a cleaner fuel, as the energy source for its sprawling facility in the town of Ranson. But Delegate Doyle speaks for the opposition in saying critics will not be silenced. “There’s too much danger to our drinking water and too much danger to our air,” Doyle insists.
Still, supporters of the company say it is a great complement to the fastest-growing region in the Mountain State, joining international investment from Tenma, an Italian plastics concern.
“Rockwool has an impact not only locally but regionally for the economy,” says sot Dennis Jarvis, head of the Jefferson County Development Authority.
And Jarvis says despite major layoffs in the county at the PennNational Gaming’s Hollywood Casino, the region has weathered the pandemic’s economic downtown pretty well.
Meanwhile, Rockwool hopes to be fully staffed by early next year with a workforce of 150 by spring, 2021.
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