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Town Council hears concerns about Rockwool, recognizes the service of Nick and Joan Blanton

By Staff | Aug 24, 2018

From left, Nick Blanton and Joan Blanton, of Shepherdstown, received a resolution of commendation for their community service from the Shepherdstown Town Council, which was read by Mayor Jim Auxer during the regular Town Council meeting on Aug. 14. Photo by Tabitha Johnston.

SHEPHERDSTOWN — As Rockwool protesters crowded together in front of McMurran Hall on the evening of Aug. 14, Shepherdstown’s Town Council met during its regular monthly meeting, to discuss town updates and hear the concerns of a few local protesters.

Some of the Jefferson County residents speaking in protest of Rockwool said the Town should be particularly concerned about the plant’s location in the former site of Jefferson Orchards, which is an equal distance of seven miles from both downtown Ranson and Shepherdstown.

“The site is seven miles from Shepherdstown, just as far away as it is from the Ranson courthouse, so our health is just as much at stake as there’s,” said Thann Hill, of Shepherdstown. “The environmental contaminants are concerning — I don’t think smoke stacks and schools mix. They’re letting a smoke stack be built by a school, but they would never let a school to be built beside a smokestack.”

According to Kevin Hall, who recently bought a home in Shepherdstown, if the plant is built, he may reconsider retiring in Shepherdstown.

“I’ve lived in this county for over 40 years, and I was hoping to retire here. We just bought a house here in Shepherdstown, but now we’re not sure if we’ll stay,” Hall said. “Some say quality of life is having a bunch of money, but quality of health is just as important as wealth. The most valuable resource we have is our children, and they’ll be the first to be affected by this.”

Standing in front of McMurran Hall, Deborah Rochefort, left, of Shenandoah Junction, and Gail Kohlhorst, right, of Uvilla, protest the building of Rockwool's plant in Ranson during the Shepherdstown Town Council meeting. Photo by Tabitha Johnston.

The protesters said their goal with speaking at the meeting, was to ask the council members to use their influence to stop Rockwool from building its plant.

After the protesters were finished speaking, Mayor Jim Auxer publicly read a mayoral letter of recommendation, which is being sent by the Advocacy Accessibility Committee to the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities, an affiliate of the World Health Organization’s Age-Friendly Cities and Communities Program. The mayoral letter fulfills one of the steps the organization requires to be completed by a municipality, before it will consider designating Shepherdstown as an age-friendly town.

Although the meeting had a busy schedule, the Town Council took time towards the end of the meeting to recognize the community service of Shepherdstown Music and Dance’s Nick Blanton and Joan Blanton.

“Nick and Joan Blanton have made an enormous contribution to the cultural life in Shepherdstown over the past 40-plus years. It is hard to measure that contribution, and, in fact, it is more likely that we take it for granted since it is so intertwined with what we consider an integral part of Shepherdstown,” Auxer read. Auxer said the Blantons’ service to the community included their business’ hosting music lessons, dances and international music acts from around the world. The couple also manage Shepherdstown’s morris team, Hicks with Sticks.