Optimism Fades

HANNIBAL – Donnah Willey of Pine Grove said all three of her sons continue searching for work after losing their jobs in October when bankrupt Ormet Corp. closed its smelter, displacing about 900 employees.

Although published reports show that Ormet officials are seeking court approval to auction the smelter after securing a “stalking horse” bid of $15.25 million, Willey said she and her family are not optimistic for a restart of the plant that produced its first aluminum sow in 1958.

“We have always thought it would close. We never thought they would go back to work,” Willey said. “It’s just a bad situation.”

In February, Ormet officials announced intentions to sell the reduction plant that sits between the Ohio River and Ohio 7 in Monroe County. This was roughly one year after the company filed for bankruptcy protection amid a business environment that included falling aluminum prices and disputes over energy costs.

The company may now have a buyer for $15.25 million, pending an auction and court approval.

However, Willey said this does not give her reason for optimism. She said her sons David, Henry and Jeff continue looking for new jobs following Ormet’s October closure. She said all three had worked at the plant for several years prior to the shutdown.

“My husband retired from there after 30 years, so we’ve seen a lot of things happen over the years,” she said.

Willey said her three sons have diligently looked for work after losing their Ormet jobs in October. She said Jeff applied for a job with EQT Corp., one of the many Marcellus Shale drillers working in northern West Virginia.

“They are trying hard. They are all good, hard workers,” she said, noting David and Henry are also traveling throughout the area in search of new jobs.

“We just have to pray and hope for the best,” Willey said. “We are helping them out as best we can, in the meantime.”

Willey also pointed out that Ormet’s closure hurts the entire region due to a loss of property taxes, as well as a loss of money to be spent in other businesses.

“It is going to hurt the schools – it is going to hurt everyone,” she said.

A recent Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act notice on file with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services shows Ormet may soon release the final 42 employees working there.