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Barbour County residents receive a dose of good economic news

by Paul Leakan

STAFF WRITER

BELINGTON -- It isn't everyday that Barbour County officials can rub elbows with the governor, announce the expansion of an industrial park and discuss the creation of two dozen new jobs.

But much to the pleasure of local and county officials, that's exactly what happened Monday afternoon inside the Belington Fire Hall.

Officials from the Barbour County Development Authority told residents and Gov. Cecil Underwood that they plan to expand the Belington Industrial Park by more than 70 acres.

Officials also announced that Energex American Pellets, Inc. will move into the expanded facility sometime in the coming months, likely bringing around 24 new jobs to the area.

"Three or four years down the road, with the help of some agencies, Barbour County will not show up on the map as a distressed area," said Charles Ervin, director of the Barbour County Development Authority. "That's our goal."

Eddie Canterbury, president of the Barbour County Commission, was also pleased by Monday's announcements.

"It's been a long time coming," he said.

The development authority will pay for the expanded facility with several grants and a loan worth nearly $900,000.

Underwood said the state needs to continue to work hard to cultivate more economic opportunities in forest and wood products.

"I think what we see in West Virginia is a snowballing effect -- one success after another," Underwood said.

Bruce Lisle, chief executive officer of Energex, said the area was right for his company.

"We're here in West Virginia because this is where the resources are," he said.

Based in Quebec, Canada, Energex manufactures wooden pellets used for wood stoves.

According to the company's Web site, it operates the largest wood pellet plant in North America.

Energex may break ground on the facility sometime this summer, Lisle said.

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