PDT Staff Writer
It is assumed by many in the community that current Southern Ohio Port Authority Vice Chairman Bill Thacker will become the chairman after the recent resignation of the chairman.
“As I understand their bylaws, with (former chairman) Mick’s (Sturgill) resignation, I would assume the chair,” Thacker said.
Thacker said he is looking forward to the opportunity of becoming chairman of SOPA and working with the new and existing members.
Last week the Scioto County Commissioners passed a resolution expanding the membership of SOPA to 21 members.
When asked what the thought about all of the added members to SOPA, Thacker said, “I’m not familiar with some of them and I’ve never been a person resistant to change, I hope these would be some people that could add to our efforts and be productive and efficient members.”
Thacker said he does not see a great deal of change coming to the organization as a result of recent changes.
“We (SOPA) are looking at industrial development for the most part. Although, if a good retail opportunity would become available we would certainly take a look at that,” Thacker said. “Our main concern is to bring employment and employers into the area who would provide a living wage, benefits and add some positive impact into our economy.”
He acknowledged the task of working towards bringing employers like that that into the community can be difficult.
“It’s a long and sometimes gridded out process. For example the latest venture with Infra-Metals was about a five-year effort. It was ready to go for a while then in 2008 and 2009 the bottom fell out of the economy and did not feel they would have sufficient orders so they backed away and with a little bit of recovery here they came again and construction is underway,” Thacker said.
When asked about projects on the horizon for the area, Thacker said, “there are several that could possibly turn into something. But, we’ve been asked to keep those confidential in the meantime.”
He said those projects would be industrial in nature.
Thacker said conversations are ongoing with the Ohio Development Services Agency along with the U.S. and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, “to perhaps test a demonstration project at the site of the old New Boston Coke Plant, which is pretty much contaminated. The site has benzene, PCP’s, some coal tar and things of that nature,” Thacker said. “This (demonstration project) is a technology that’s been developed by Patel Institute. In essence its a smoldering technology which you would literally burn, underground the pollutants and clean it up that way.”
He said if the technology works it would cut the cost of remediation.
“If we move forward this would not likely get off the ground for another year. There will be a great deal of time devoted to studying to determine what is exactly at the site,” Thacker said. “When completed, that would open that land up for development.”
Thacker said representatives from the operation will be at the next SOPA meeting scheduled for Feb. 14.
After the appointment of the new SOPA members last week, Mike Crabtree, Chairman of the Scioto County Commissioners indicated more change may be on the way for the Port Authority.
“We are asking the newly expanded Port Authority to review its bylaws and committees to determine if more structural changes are needed,” Crabtree said.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org.