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Rockwool Reaches Out to Jefferson County Residents Through Community Open Houses

Liz McCormick
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Rockwool's stone wool insulation on display during a community open house.

There’s been contention in recent weeks in Jefferson County between thousands of residents and a new manufacturing plant being built called Rockwool. In response to the pushback, the Denmark-based company has scheduled community open houses through Saturday to engage with community members.

Rockwool is a European-based company that makes stone wool insulation. The product is made from basalt rock and recycled slag and is fire and water resistant. The facility in Ranson, Jefferson County is the second the company has built in the U.S., and it’ll offer 150 jobs.

But thousands in the community are upset. The plant will feature two smokestacks and will be located just a few miles from four public schools.

Rockwool held the first of four community open houses Thursday at the Jefferson County Community Center in Shenandoah Junction.

Rockwool’s North American President Trent Ogilvie said he hopes to connect with residents to allay their fears.

“What we didn’t do enough of is engage with everybody,” Ogilvie said. “We missed a part of this community in our communication and didn’t answer their questions well enough. We want to get everybody’s questions, get the facts, and try to earn people’s trust.”

Rockwool filed for its Air Quality Permit with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection last year and was approved in April.

But residents are still concerned about the impact on air quality.

Ogilvie said the Ranson plant will feature air monitoring stations around the facility with publicly available data. He also hopes to foster better communication between Rockwool and Jefferson County beyond the open houses.

“We’re forming a stakeholder group of eighteen, a cross-section of the community,” he said. “Eighteen people that will meet every month, advise us, [and] tell us concerns they’re hearing. It won’t end after the factory starts either. We’ll always have a really enhanced community relations program.”

There will be three more Rockwool community open houses located at:

Jefferson County Community Center, 235 Sam Michals Rd, Shenandoah Junction, W.Va.

Friday, August 24:

  • 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Saturday, August 25:

  • 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

A rally against the plant is also scheduled for Saturday morning at 10:00 outside the Jefferson County Community Center.

Webmaster/Eastern Panhandle Bureau Chief/Part-time Education Reporter/Producer, emccormick@wvpublic.org, 304-876-9313, @LizMcCormickWV

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