CARROLL COUNTY GROWTH
But perhaps the most easily understood messages came from Amy Rutledge, director of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce, and Chris Jaskiewicz, vice president of local drilling-related company VEC Inc. of Girard, formerly Valley Electrical Consolidated.
Carroll County has the most Utica shale gas-producing wells in Ohio, but the 30,000-population county has been in the Utica drilling business for only about 18 months. The arrival of the companies, their numerous workers, their heavy equipment, their work ethic and their money has had a dramatic — and possibly long-lasting — effect on the sleepy community just west of East Liverpool.
The county has just one hotel with 49 rooms, so plans are progressing to reopen the Atwood Lodge so that tourists can once again find a place to stay in Carroll County, Rutledge said.
The arrival of truck traffic and other heavy equipment has required county officials to establish backup plans so that emergency crews can still get to fires and other emergencies in the event that equipment blocks their path.
Watching drilling rigs move through the community has been “fascinating,” she said.
Meanwhile, the transformation of many dirt roads into paved roads has been interesting in that sometimes the pavement abruptly ends because the companies only need the road in certain areas near their drilling pads.
The deli in Carrollton went from three employees to five after the workers showed up, which is typical of all of the eateries in town, she said.
Many Carroll County residents have left their former jobs to work in the gas industry because it pays better, especially those with welding experience or a commercial driver’s license. Some who have left their former jobs to work 12-hour days, seven days a week have had to learn that drilling companies need people “willing to work,” she said.
Carrollton rarely had to worry about providing people with viable opportunities to give away their money, Rutledge said, but it’s important now because so many more people have money they are willing to give.
When officials with the huge drilling company Chesapeake say they test drinking wells in advance of drilling, it’s true. “They tested my well,” she said.
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