Bellaire's economic outlook grew brighter Wednesday morning.
At a hastily called press conference in council chambers, the village staked a claim in the booming oil business.
Waco Oil & Gas of Glenville, W.Va., announced it is setting up shop in Bellaire. Waco President Doug Morris said the company is purchasing the Ideal Place on West 23rd Street to serve as its headquarters.
Until recently, Waco did most of its drilling in West Virginia. But Morris, son of Waco founder Ike Morris, believes Bellaire and East Ohio offer a win-win scenario.
"The best deals are when everyone makes money. We believe this is an opportunity for not only us, but Bellaire, local businesses and many others to make money," Morris said. "We loved the look of Bellaire when we visited. It is a big city compared to Glenville. But we also like the people, like the landscape and like the opportunity this town presents.
"Exxon is our horse. That is who we are affiliated with. They are the big boys, and they do things in first-class fashion," Morris said. "We intend to hire 20-25 people right off the bat. They will be local hires. I am sure, as we progress, the work force will continue to grow."
Several Village Council members, chamber officials and Police Chief Mike Kovalyk were present. Morris assured them Waco will do things in proper fashion.
"My dad is old school, and he says you are only as good as you look. We plan on having properties all throughout Bellaire, not just the Ideal Place. You will be proud of how they look and how we operate. Communication is the key," Morris said.
Morris was accompanied at the press briefing by several of his company officials, including public relations coordinator Doug Cottrill.
"We started this project in November with Exxon. It will consist of several phases, which will be marked by a large influx of people," Cottrill said. "We hope this means as much to Bellaire as it has to towns like Moundsville and New Martinsville across the river. We are 'Waco of Bellaire.'"
He noted the project is "massive," as Exxon is looking to cultivate some 900,000 acres in the Ohio Valley.
Waco Operations Manager Vernon Walker also addressed village officials. He said Exxon is adamant about ensuring roads are of the highest quality during the company's work and after its crews leave the area.
Greg Duvall of Key Ridge owns property where Waco and Exxon are drilling and spoke of both in glowing terms.
According to the company's website, Waco Oil & Gas is one of the leading oil and gas production companies in West Virginia. Its staff of about 100 employees is broken down into the following departments: land, technology and mapping, accounting, drilling, production and field service and swabbing. Waco's land department concentrates on acquisition of mineral interests and the permitting of drilling locations. The shop and field personnel build the well locations, drill and complete wells and manage the production of wells.
Waco is concentrating its efforts on drilling Marcellus Shale wells and increasing production, drilling one Marcellus well every two weeks in the Appalachian Basin. During the last 32 years, Waco has successfully drilled more than 1,000 producing wells in West Virginia.