Public Library Steps Up To Save Steelworker Statue

The Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County has secured funding to have the 25-year-old steelworker statue moved from its Ohio 7 site to the small park directly across South Fourth Street from the library.

The fate of the 7,500-pound statue that depicts a blast furnace employee taking a sample of molten iron was uncertain after City Engineer Michael Dolak told City Council in April the Ohio Department of Transportation wanted the symbol of Ohio Valley steel moved by Nov. 30 so construction can start on a new highway interchange.

Dolak said no one is certain who actually owns the statue, but it was in the way of an area to be used for the new Ohio 7 and University Boulevard interchange. The Ohio Department of Transportation said the statue must be moved by Nov. 30.

ODOT has set a 2015 construction start date to improve access to the Veterans Memorial Bridge through the redistribution of vehicular and truck traffic by improving adjacent connecting thoroughfares. The project is estimated to cost $10.6 million.

Alan Hall, director of the library, announced Monday the library received a $10,000 grant from the PNC Charitable Trust-J.C. Williams Trust to assist relocating the statue.

“The estimated cost of the move is $18,000, so I am reviewing the budget and prioritizing to determine what we can do with the $ 10,000. Of course, the most important thing is to get the statue physically moved. Development at the library site can be accomplished in stages once the statue is here,” Hall said.

Hall said the library has an engineer working on a separate project, and officials will ask him to design a concrete base for the statue. He said he wants to have the statue facing South Fourth Street with the ladle pointing toward the Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel plaque already in that area.

Hall said he is hoping to have the statue moved by Oct. 30. He said officials began discussing the possible move a few years ago when a plaque containing the names of 19 Wheeling Steel employees who died during World War II was placed in the park. The plaque had been found in the former Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel office building and donated to the library.

“I hope the addition of the steelworker statue will lead to the creation of a steel plaza that will celebrate our steel industry legacy in the Ohio Valley,” Hall said. “It is important for all of us to remember the steel industry that once flourished here. We should preserve that history for future generations. The statue will serve as a reminder of that industry.”

Hall said a close inspection of the statue revealed some pitting and tarnishing of the gold leaf painting. But Carmen DeStefano, who helps to maintain the former United Steelworkers Local 1190 Union Hall, said he will contact Al’s Auto Service in Wellsburg about sandblasting the statue and painting it with gold leaf paint.

“When we had the statue painted in 1989, that gold paint was $168 a gallon. I am sure the cost has gone up so I will contact the USW offices in Pittsburgh to ask if they can support this project with a donation,” DeStefano said.