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UPDATE: Wisconsin Company Purchasing Ormet

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UPDATE 6/30/2014 11:15 AM

Big news for the future of Ormet.

A new company steps in with a move that could potentially resurrect the idle property.

The president says he wants to bring jobs back to the region.

The big deal is creating optimism for former employees who want the site to reopen.

Friday during a private auction Niagara Worldwide won the rights to purchase Ormet and its assets for over $25 million.

The company is out of Wisconsin.

It's a property developer that acquires, manages, markets and sells idle industrial properties.

Just in the past year, nearly 1,000 workers were laid off at the Hannibal location but now the site's future is looking a little brighter.

"We find ourselves looking at a site in a downturned economy that needs some sort of facelift, modification, marketing, interaction with the community or the economic development council so that it can gain funding, gain momentum and restart or change over completely," says Eric Spirtas, President of Niagra Worldwide.

"It builds the community up, jobs can come back here. A lot of them have left here, and got jobs at other places and maybe they'll com back. I hope so," says Paul Isaacs.

Niagara's president says there's a lot of work to be done but the company will concentrate their efforts toward finding the right plan for the Hannibal site.

Ormet was last year's largest industrial layoff across all of Ohio.


UPDATE 5/19/2014 12:15 PM

HANNIBAL, Ohio (AP) - Ormet Corp. told the state it will lay off the remaining 42 employees at its aluminum smelter in eastern Ohio.

The employees remained after the plant in Hannibal ceased operations in October. They will lose their jobs at the end of the month, with a complete closing of the plant by the end of July.

The company announced it would close its plant along the Ohio River and lay off more than 1,000 workers after state utility regulators rejected portions of its proposed deal for reducing electricity costs.

Ormet said the decision by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio made it impossible for the company to escape bankruptcy.

The plant was once the largest employer in the region.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


UPDATE 2/21/2014 5:10 PM

Lending a helping hand.

Workers from the closed Ormet plant get much needed groceries.

Friday was the first of a two-day food drive organized by the United Steelworkers.

There were also people on hand providing help with pension plans and health insurance.

The workers were laid off when the Hannibal aluminum manufacturer shut down in October.

Congressman Bill Johnson's office had representatives there Friday as well.

he donated $2,000 to help provide tax preparation services to the workers there.


UPDATE 2/19/2014 5:12 PM

Relief is coming in the form of the union for local 5724 members who were Ormet workers laid off at Hannibal's aluminum plant.

The united steelworkers host a food and relief drive Friday and Saturday from 9 to 4.

On top of handing out groceries, presentations about benefits and services will be available for workers and their families, with topics ranging from health insurance through Get Covered America, to tax services through United Way, and even private or anonymous mental health services.

The event will be held at local union 5724 on Union Drive in Clarington, Ohio.


UPDATE 1/8/2014 5:05 PM

They lost their jobs over a power dispute.

Wednesday Ormet workers traveled to Columbus to rally in front of AEP.

They've wanted Governor John Kasich to step in and help resolve the power rate dispute between the utilities commission, AEP and the company.

So far, no luck.

But the Ormet workers are not giving up.

They say they want a resolution.

Outside in the cold Wednesday they marched, trying to raise awareness and get AEP back to the table.

Ormet declared bankruptcy in Febuary of 2013.

In October of 2013 they shut down after no agreement was made on the electric rates.

It resulted in the loss of 1,000 jobs in southeastern Ohio, affecting entire families.

Picketers say if AEP doesn't do something those families will be forced to leave the Valley and even the state of Ohio.

Workers say they just want AEP to charge Ormet the same price they charge the other aluminum producers.

Workers say this is the most depressing thing they have ever had to do.

They say they are disappointed in Governor Kasich and how he is handling the situation.

As the day went on the crowd grew and people that didn't even work at Ormet joined in to help the cause.

Melissa McHenry, Director of External Communications for AEP, released the following statement:

"We are sorry to see any Ohio business fail, and we sympathize with the Ormet employees who lost their jobs, but the reality is that Ormet already had substantially discounted electricity rates, and the Public Utility Commission of Ohio determined that it was not appropriate to further subsidize those rates. It is unfortunate, but Ormet simply could not sustainably compete in a depressed aluminum market, and electricity rates are not the reason."


UPDATE 12/27/2013 4:20 PM

Keeping up the pressure.

The United Steelworkers Union isn't letting up on its efforts to reopen the dormant Ormet aluminum plant.

It's now been three months since that Monroe County, Ohio plant shut down after it failed to get an agreement with state utility regulators on an electric power rate plan.

But the United Steelworkers says it will keep pressure on the Kasich administration and the state public utilities commission.

Ormet, which declared bankruptcy earlier this year, shut down in October after the state public utilities commission failed to approve a new power rate structure with American Electric Power.

The union, in a teleconference Friday morning, once again called on Governor John Kasich to step into the situation.

"The PUCO (members) are appointed by the governor; I understand they act independently of what his desires might be," says David McCall, with the United Steelworkers Union. "But the governor of the state of Ohio can bring the parties to the table, and demand they sit down and discuss what the real facts are."

McCall noted Kasich's predecessors, from both political parties, were able to help keep the struggling plant open.

The Steelworkers Union recently has conducted an on-line petition drive.

But this weekend, it plans to take its efforts door-to-door.

The governor's office has told us it cannot force a solution with the PUCO.

Published reports say some of Ormet's assets have recently been put up for public auction.


UPDATE 11/19/2013 9:40 AM

The issues surrounding the closing of Ormet aren't going away.

Last week the United Steelworkers challenged Governor Kasich to get Ohio regulators and a major utility to negotiate a new power rate to reopen the plant.

The governor's office said it can't tell the utilities commission what to do.

Monday Senator Lou Gentile criticized that answer.

"A lot of concern, especially about our communities. I'm very disappointed that the governor has not become more engaged, he has yet to make a public comment concerning Ormet himself, he has only utilized his spokesman on his behalf and I believe that the people in the Mid-Ohio Valley deserve better, quite frankly," says Sen. Gentile.

Senator Gentile was in Marietta Monday endorsing Jennifer Garrison's campaign for Congress.

Senator Gentile says Garrison has the best interest of this community and the entire district in mind.


UPDATE 11/13/2013 5:50 PM

Tuesday dozens of steelworkers held a rally, trying to re-start the Ormet plant with Governor Kasich's help.

Wednesday the governor's office shared a response the union wasn't hoping for.

The United Steelworkers want the governor to get Ohio regulators and a major utility to negotiate a utility rate to reopen the Ormet plant in Monroe County.

But the governor's office says what they're being asked to do is not their responsibility, and it's also illegal.

"The reality is we've been involved, but the only thing we've seen concrete that they've asked us to do is not permissible under Ohio law and that is push around the Public Utilities Commission,' says Press Secretary Rob Nichols. "In Ohio, the PUCO is an independent entity so what they've asked us to do is not looked upon kindly by Ohio law."

The governor's office adds that they are open to any suggestions and ideas that can reverse falling aluminum prices.

A thousand workers were laid off last month at Ormet after the Public Utilities Commission rejected part of a deal to reduce the cost of power.


UPDATE 11/12/2013 4:25 PM

Trying to re-start an idled plant.

Steelworkers want Ohio Governor John Kasich to get involved.

The United Steelworkers want Governor Kasich to get Ohio regulators and a major utility to negotiate a utility rate to reopen the Monroe County plant.

A thousand workers were laid off last month at Ormet after the Public Utilities Commission rejected part of a deal to reduce the cost of power.

"There's got to be a way they can sit down together and find a solution to this power problem," says Donnie Blatt, with United Steelworkers. "These folks aren't asking for a handout, they're asking for a fair shot to retain their jobs."

The union is promoting its cause through a website and social media.

Ormet filed for bankruptcy protection last February.


UPDATE 11/12/2013 12:30 PM

Ormet workers are not going down without a fight.

A labor union seeking the reopening of the aluminum smelter is launching a campaign aimed at Governor John Kasich.

It is called Save Ohio Jobs.

Through videos and a new website, the union will gather signatures to ask Gov. Kasich to use his position to help.

Ormet filed for bankruptcy protection in February.

It decided to close its plant along the Ohio River near Wheeling last month after state utility regulators rejected portions of its proposed deal for reducing electricity costs

Tuesday a rally is being held in Clarington, Ohio.

We do have a reporter there and we will have more on that story Tuesday on WTAP News at 5, 6 and 11 and right here at thenewscenter.tv


UPDATE 10/28/2013 11:45 AM

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - What was once the largest private employer in its region is now Ohio's largest industrial layoff of the year.

As we told you earlier this month, Ormet announced it would be closing its doors, putting more than 1,000 employees out of work.

Now, Governor Kasich is facing criticism over the smelting company's closure.

Officials with Ormet are blaming the governor for not helping the company with their negotiations with state utility regulators.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio denied the company's request for an energy transition plan to operate while building a natural gas based power facility.

Kasich's supporters say Ormet was doomed by the economics of huge power requirements and historically low metal prices.

The company began a partial shutdown in August after being turned down for a temporary reduction for its power bill.

Ormet filed for bankruptcy in February.

Officials say a restart of its plant would depend on its ability to get a long term economical power supply .

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


UPDATE 10/11/2013 04:50 PM

Some Ohio lawmakers want pressure on the governor to keep Ormet open.

Others say: just get some kind of resolution.

Echoing the latter statement is Republican State Representative Andy Thompson.

Thompson says that, while the governor appoints members of the state public utilities commission, there's only so much influence he has over the commission's decisions.

"The difficult thing for Ormet is the economic climate right now. The market for aluminum is not good," Thompson says. "They want to see light at the end of the tunnel, and they want to see this turned around. That's something that's going to be involved if they sit down at the table, if they're able to sit down to the table."

Ormet says the failure of PUCO to approve in its entirety an interim agreement on utility rates was behind its decision to close its Monroe County aluminum plant.

Lawmakers and the united steelworkers union have called on Gov. Kasich to intervene in the case.


UDPATE 10/10/2013 5:05 PM

Thousands of people have lost their jobs after the closing of Ormet in Monroe County.

It's a big issue right now and Senator Lou Gentile is trying to help.

Senator Gentile says his heart goes out to the workers and their families.

He says this is just devastating to the economy in southeastern Ohio and all of Ohio.

He says the Kasich administration did not hold up their end of the deal to secure the reasonable rate to operate.

His office is working with the people that lost their jobs and their families to help them with the next steps to stay afloat.

Ormet announced last week it was closing the Hannibal, Ohio plant after failing to get approval from the state Public Utilities Commission for a transition plan

That, the company said, would have allowed it to keep the plant operating while transitioning to natural gas power.


UPDATE 10/9/2013 12:20 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The United Steelworkers say Gov. John Kasich can help save 600 jobs in southeast Ohio by intervening in an electricity conflict between aluminum maker Ormet Corp. and state utility regulators.

Ormet has proceeded with "full curtailment" of its Hannibal, Ohio, operations after the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio partially rejected its energy transition plan last week. The company's request to continue operating while building an onsite natural-gas power plant was declined.

A statement on Ormet's website says the decision makes it impossible for the company to escape bankruptcy. Commissioners allowed Ormet to defer electricity bills through December. It filed bankruptcy in February.

The steelworkers' union asked Kasich to urge Ormet, PUCO and American Electric Power to negotiate a compromise.

Kasich's spokesman says the state wants Ormet to succeed and previously has given it a more than $300 million subsidy.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


UPDATE 10/7/2013 4:49 PM

Steel workers take another huge hit.

Another long time plant decides to shutdown.

Ormet, just up the road in Hannibal, Ohio, made the announcement at the end of last week.

This is not exactly a closing that sent shockwaves through a community.

Ormet announced back in February it is in bankruptcy, and the company gave its required notice of a partial shutdown this past summer.

What, according to company officials, sealed the plant's fate was the decision by the Ohio Public Utilities Commission to approve only part of a request for electric power rate subsidies.

Although the Hannibal, Ohio plant's employment is below what it once was, one area development official says it's still a sad day for the area.

"When they lose their jobs, it has a ripple impact. Fewer people are buying cars, buying houses, buying all the things that go with living life here," says Charlotte Keim, President of the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce. "It hurts other businesses who may be suppliers to that company."

In a company statement released last week, Ormet says the rate it pays to purchase electricity from American Electric Power has increased more than 50 percent in the past four years.

Leaders of the United Steelworkers local representing Ormet workers were reportedly in meetings Monday with company officials.

We have not been able to reach them for comment.


A big blow to the economy along the Ohio River.

Ormet says it's closing its doors, putting 600-employees out of work.

The Hannibal based aluminum smelter made the announcement in a news release on its website.

Back on Wednesday, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio denied the company's request for an energy transition plan to operate while building a natural gas based power facility.

Because of that, the company is shutting down operations immediately.

In August Ormet began a partial shutdown, after being turned down for a temporary reduction for its power bill.

And, back in February Ormet filed for bankruptcy.

The company says that a restart of its plant would depend on its ability to get a long term economical power supply.


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