Land Sought for Mine Safety Training Center

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources seeks to buy 10 contiguous acres of land in Belmont County near major highways, and county commissioners want private landowners to know of this opportunity because there isn’t county-owned property available to fill the need.

The ODNR hopes to build an East Ohio Mine Safety Training Center in Belmont County near Interstate 70 and Interstate 470, and the agency desires property with water and sewer lines already present, according to county officials.

“When Belmont County is the home to Murray Energy, mining is important,” said County Port Authority Director Larry Merry. “We don’t as a county or a port authority own property that matches what they need. So it’s up to the private sector.”

Commissioners ask those who have 10 acres of land meeting the requirements to call the commission office at 740-699-2155, or the Belmont County Port Authority at 740-695-4397. Commissioner Mark Thomas said ODNR officials contacted commissioners this week with their request for proposals.

“They would like to buy 10 acres and build a building, but they are also amenable to leasing if necessary,” Thomas said.

Commissioner Matt Coffland said he has contacted property owners he knows who have property to fill the need, but those with such land say it is already under option or contract as development expands in Belmont County.

“It’s a good problem to have,” he said.

Thomas said the ODNR wants to be in Belmont County because it sees the county as the hub of coal mining in East Ohio. The agency wants to have the project started within the next fiscal year, and Thomas cited the East Ohio Industrial Park in Barnesville that will be open soon as a potential site for the training center.

Merry said infrastructure to the park should be complete by fall, but he does not believe the training center will be a good fit for the park because it will bring few full-time permanent jobs to the park. It will, however, bring hundreds of miners to the area who are seeking training, he added.

The ODNR presently operates the Jerry L. Stewart Mine Safety Training Center in Cadiz.