(11/08/2007)

Calhoun's Industrial Park since 1983 will now be put to
some "positive use" says Diane Ludwig of the LKADC

By Bob Weaver

The ownership of the Calhoun Industrial Park near Grantsville is being transfered to the Little Kanawha Area Development Corporation, according to LKADC Director Diane Ludwig.

Ludwig told the Calhoun Commission this week that her agency would assume an existing $65,000 debt. She said the LKADC board approved the take-over of the property and debt.

"We see value in the property even though it's on the flood plain," Ludwig said, "We intend to put the property to positive use for the community."

A loan on the park has reportedly been in default for several years.

Ludwig said earlier this year that a letter was sent by the WV Economic Development Authority to the local Calhoun Development Corporation regarding the loan default.

The state's development authority denied a Freedom of Information request from the Hur Herald, seeking information about the status of the industrial park. The agency cited their exemption of the FOIA.

Records show that board members for the CDC park have been Jim Morford, President, and board members Ivy Von Yoak, Glen Fowler, Larry McCallister and Jackie Robinson. Morford died earlier this year.

The park was created about 1983 on flood-plain land sold by the late Carl R. Morris, Grantsville businessman.

Records indicate there was a state loan for the land purchase and other development in 1983 for $104,059, but the development group reportedly received other monies through a Small Cities Block Grant.

More recently a gas well was drilled on
the flat land of the Industrial Park

It has been referred to by local residents as the "Water Park," since most of it floods from the Little Kanawha River.

Since its' creation, the park has never attracted a business that creates jobs, mostly because of the flood plain problem.

Banks or government agencies will not issue loans on flood plain property where buildings are likely to flood.

Much has changed since 1983, with dozens of empty industrial parks and shell buildings around West Virginia because of the globalized market.

Land was sold or designated for Grantsville's water plant, and reportedly small sections have been sold by the CDC to local businessmen, a property sale that is apparently legal.

More recently, a gas well was drilled on industrial park land, which had appearances of jeopardizing the primary mission of the initial project.

While it has never been clear why such a deal would be approved for economic development, County Clerk Richard Kirby says the wrong set of maps and specs were used by the Army Corps of Engineers to make the sale.

Kirby says the maps and specs were for another piece of property near Cabot Station.

Still, the property was purchased from Morris and the project was created by the West Virginia Development Authority in Charleston.

The county commission has no authority over the park project, although an account earlier this year in the Calhoun Chronicle said the commission exonerated the property from taxes.

The park was granted tax-exempt status when it was created in 1983 under state provisions.

The CDC also owns a building in which Community Resources, Inc. has used in Grantsville for several years.


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