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Saying ‘no’ to Rockwool: Jefferson County Foundation to fight against rezoning of Jefferson Orchards

By Staff | Jun 19, 2020

A farmer's field along Scrabble Road is illuminated by a sunset on Friday night. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — While many people have been experiencing a slower life, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, one local group has done anything but slow down. The Jefferson County Foundation, Inc., has kept up its work to prevent Rockwool’s plant in the former location of Jefferson Orchards from being opened, holding virtual community events and lobbying local politicians to oppose decisions that would help the plant open.

On Friday night, about 40 community members attended the Jefferson County Foundation community forum about the upcoming vote on Ranson Ordinance #2017-302. If the rezoning ordinance of the area that includes the former location of Jefferson Orchards is approved, the plant will be cleared to begin producing its stone wool insulation products in Jefferson County.

“People who are for heavy industry are purportedly so, because they’re for a strong economy. So we’re going to break down the fact that heavy industry does not mean a strong economy,” said JCF member Christine Wimer, DVM DACVS-LA.

Wimer, who has an MS in applied molecular biology and has over 15 years of experience in the biomedical research field, answered questions that had been submitted to her by viewers before the beginning of the Facebook Live forum. Many of the questions centered around explaining the harm that the plant’s heavy industry will have on residents’ health, along with Jefferson County’s main multi-million-dollar industries of agriculture, tourism and horse racing.

“The zoning change in Ranson will enable this much heavier industry, and that will effect this area for a long time,” Wimer said. “This is our chance to tell Ranson all of the reasons why this industry is wrong for Ranson. We have a number of opportunities to get these things done.”

Cows graze in a field along Scrabble Road on Friday night. Tabitha Johnston

Wimer mentioned a few things that community members could do to encourage the Ranson City Council to reject the ordinance.

“You can register to attend both of the meetings on the 16th and 23rd of this month. That’s the first reading and vote, and then the hearing and second hearing of the ordinance that would allow more heavy industry in the area,” Wimer said. “Secondly, you can sign up to speak at the hearing on June 23rd by contacting Stacey Pfaltzgraff. You can send a public comment to Stacey Pfaltzgraff by June 18.”

The forum can be viewed on the Jefferson County Foundation Facebook page.

To contact Pfaltzgraff, email spfaltzgraff@ransonwv.us. To learn more, visit www.jeffersoncountyfoundation.org/.

A farmer's field along Scrabble Road is filled with cows on Friday night. Tabitha Johnston