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U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson Says Belmont County Cracker Plant Is on Track During Event at The Highlands

Photo by Joselyn King U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, delivers the keynote address at the Project BEST “Excellence in Construction” Awards Thursday at The Highlands Event Center in Triadelphia.

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson urged patience as the region awaits official word on a proposed ethane cracker plant in Belmont County, and said the local project is moving faster than a similar one did in Western Pennsylvania.

Johnson, R-Ohio, gave the keynote address at the Project BEST “Excellence in Construction” Awards Thursday at The Highlands Event Center in Triadelphia.

He reminded those attending the project represents a $9 billion investment by PTT Global Chemical that would take six years and 10,000 construction workers to build. After this, there would be 1,000 permanent jobs at the plant, and many more expected in ancillary industries.

The Shell Oil Corp. already is constructing a similar plant in Western Pennsylvania across the river from East Liverpool.

“I am still very optimistic about this (Belmont County) project,” Johnson said. “Do I wish we already had a decision on it? You bet. But let me remind you. … The time frame of this project — the PTT Chemical Project — is faster and at a point in time quicker than Shell’s was.

“When you’re talking about a $9 billion project, with this many moving parts, you’re taking about dotting every ‘i’ and crossing every ‘t’ that you get it right. It has been a long project, but it will be worth the wait when we get the good news.”

The PTT Global project would represent the largest construction project ever in the state of Ohio, according to Johnson.

“For the biggest project ever in our history to happen right here in Belmont County — and not in Cleveland or Columbus or Cincinnati — is a really big deal. … It would be a game changer for our region. Everybody knows that.”

The Project BEST “Excellence in Construction” Awards brought together representatives of construction labor and management, as well as members of the community, associated with developing local construction projects.

Project BEST is an organization comprised of over 500 contractors and 6,000 building trades craftsmen and apprentices serving the Upper Ohio Valley Region. Its goal is to promote jobs for its membership by providing trained craftsmen doing safe and quality work.

Awards were presented Thursday night to those singled out for being the best at what they do based on the nominations of Project BEST membership.

Among the winners were Grae-Con, general contractor of the year; Karras Painting, sub-contractor of the year; Wheelhouse Creative, supporting business of the year; and The Health Plan, project of the year.

Individual awards went to Mark Paul of Quality Steel, person of the year; Chuck King, craftsman of the year ; Patrick J. Rymer, McKinley Architecture and Engineering, architect of the year; and John Kalkreuth of East Coast Metal Systems, for distinguished service.

Kim Carfagna of Jarvis, Downing & Emch was honored with the lifetime achievement award from Project BEST.

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