Cracker symposium shares other communities’ experiences –good and bad

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The title of the day-long symposium at Wheeling island Hotel Casino Racetrack was “Lessons Learned and Preparation for Potential Ethane Cracker Plant.”

Potter Township, Pa., has learned by experience how an ethane cracker affects a community–good and bad.

They say police need to deal not only with snarled traffic, but drugs and prostitution.

“What goes on in hotel rooms is an issue, and the connections that makes with prostitution and human trafficking,” said Rebecca Matsco, Potter Township supervisor.

One community college dean said some of their graduates are already getting jobs.

“You need to have the technical skills they’re looking for–individuals who have this associates degree or something similar,” said John Goberish of the Community College of Beaver.

They say spinoff jobs are already cropping up.

“We’ve trained about 450 drivers with their CDL license and constantly are getting calls looking for more people with CDL experience,” noted Ed Mowrer of Belmont College.

They said there’s still a stigma attached with career technical jobs, so many students are not choosing that path.

“And we’ve got to make them understand, and we’ve got to make their parents understand, that those are very good long-term careers where we’re talking about starting salaries in the $60,000 range,” said Mike Kuhn, acting president of West Virginia Northern Community College.

Wheeling’s mayor said the possibility of the cracker has prompted the City to step up its game in terms of underground water and sewer facilities.

“This is something that our cracker plant committee identified,” said Mayor Glenn Elliott. “If we want to be prepared for what’s coming, we have to make sure we have the underground infrastructure to accomodate it.”

Weighing the good with the bad, here’s how one Potter Township supervisor said it shakes out.

“I think the overall picture for a cracker community is positive,” said Rebecca Matsco.

The symposium was sponsored by the Ohio Valley Oil and Gas Association, The Belmont County Tourism Council, The Wheeling Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Greater Moundsville Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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