AFG glass plant announces plan to resume operations
by Torie Knight

    AFG Industries Inc. is just about to finish a 90-day repair to its furnace and production line at the Jerry  Run facility in Taylor County that forced the layoff of about 200 employees.
    Owners shut down the production lines at the facility for the first time in 11 years to repair the 200-foot furnace. It’s a multi-million- dollar expense, but a necessary one, said Plant Manager Jim Mills. “It’s like taking an old car into the shop, striping it down and repairing it,” Mills said.
    What happens over time is that the bricks in the furnace deteriorate and need to be replaced. The furnace itself produces 500 tons of glass a day. “It’s just part of doing business,” Mills said. “You have to repair the business to keep the business.”
Mills believes the repairs demonstrate the glass company’s dedication to the area.
    “With this investment, AFG and its employees look forward to continuing its long and successful partnership with the Bridgeport and Clarksburg area,” he said. During the repair process, AFG laid off around 200 of its 320 employees.
    About 350 contractors worked to help make the repairs during that time. Next week, production should begin again.
The company continued operations during the shut-down by shipping products from inventory remaining on the plant floor.
This is the third time owners  have repaired the furnaces at the Jerry Run plant. “We’ve learned how to operate these things so we can extend the life on them,” Mills said.
    AFG Industries is a flat glass manufacturing facility. The company creates glass used in windows and mirrors, the glass shelving in refrigerators and the glass on the fronts of microwaves.
    The company sells to top brands such as Frigidaire, Whirlpool and Sears, with a total of 600 customers last year.

Clarksburg City Council  gives approval
to budget plan
by Paul Leakan

Let’s at least leave here tonight as friends.
    Clarksburg City Council delivered that message to city employees Thursday night after it passed the city’s $8.3 million budget.
    Council members voted unanimously to pass the budget, which included a 2 percent pay increase for all city employees and special pay for some city employees.
    The Local 119 Chapter of the International Union of Police Associations had pleaded for council to approve a 12 percent pay raise for city police officers.
    City officials hoped the discussions — which became heated at times — didn’t create animosity between them and city employees. “There is no adversarial relationship,” City Manager Percy Ashcraft told the crowd of city employees in attendance. “There is no line drawn behind this podium. “We don’t leave tonight as opponents. We leave tonight as partners.”
    Police, firefighters and public works employees will receive special assignment pay this budget year. They will make an additional 35 cents per hour for work performed on the 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift and the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift.
Police union officials said they are grateful for the pay increase and the special pay provision, but warned council that they will be back next year to get the 12 percent pay raise and hazardous pay.
    John Fuscaldo, vice president of the local police union, told council that it must start coming up with ways to make room for the pay raise next year. “It’s going to to take fiscal responsibility from all of us,” Fuscaldo told council. “I think we’re in the same life boat together. We’re going to have to come up with solutions.”
    The pay raise discussions this year at least helped create better communication and a better working relationship between city officials and employees, Ashcraft said. Robert Matheny, president of the local police union, hopes Ashcraft’s remarks ring true.
    “We’ll work together in the future. And we’ll be better educated for next year. We just hope we can get it done.”
Council beat the deadline to pass the budget by nine days. Under state law, council must have the budget signed, sealed and delivered to Charleston by March 28. “It’s been a tough budget,” said Councilman Jim Hunt. “But I’ve had 14 of them, and they’re all tough.”
    In other business Thursday, council removed an ordinance from the agenda that could have expanded the city’s rotational towing list to include towing businesses located one mile outside city limits.
    Council had tabled the ordinance during its March 4 session and it should not have been placed back on the agenda. Council deadlocked on bringing the ordinance back on the table Thursday. Three voted for it, and three voted against it. Mayor Louis Iquinto abstained from voting. Though the measure is still off the table, it could be brought back at a later time.


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