Lehigh donates $50,000 to town

Cement company furthers footbridge, monument

'One heck of an asset'

Union Bridge

May 09, 2002|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,SUN STAFF

Lehigh Cement Co. has donated $50,000 to Union Bridge to complete two projects that will help beautify the smallest town in Carroll County.

Mayor Perry L. Jones Jr. said the money would be used for a footbridge across the stream in Little Pipe Creek Park and to build a monument to Union Bridge artist William Henry Rinehart in the new town square, part of the Main Street revitalization.

The donation was made at the recent dedication of Lehigh's $270 million kiln and other improvements made to the plant during the past three years.

Jones praised the company for its community support.

"Lehigh came to us and wanted to know what kind of projects we had going and what could they do to help," Jones said. "Lehigh is very community-oriented and one heck of an asset to the town of Union Bridge."

The town had received grants from several agencies for work on the 30-acre project, including rerouting the stream, digging out the streambed, planting trees and creating a walking trail. The town tried to obtain additional grant money for the footbridge and was rejected, Jones said.

"We had the footbridge designed to put over the stream and knew we were $20,000 short and were looking at using town funds if we had to," Jones said.

As part of the Main Street improvements, the town also wanted a monument to native son Rinehart, a sculptor who was born on a Union Bridge farm in 1825. The Main Street Revitalization Committee recommended casting one of Rinehart's sculptures as the centerpiece for the new town square but needed $30,000 for the project.

David Roush, Lehigh plant manager, said both projects suited the company's desire to further environmental improvement and promote arts and history.

"The company wanted to do something special to mark the event of this dedication, so we decided that we would make a total contribution to the town for those two projects," he said.

About 150 people attended Friday's dedication, including corporate officials from Germany. Lehigh is a member of HeidelbergCement Group.

Lehigh's expansion includes a kiln with a five-stage preheater, new stone-crushing facilities, a pre-blending dome and revamped finish grinding and roller press.

"Things have improved in the way we handled materials around in the plant," Roush said. "When we started the new plant, we radically changed the handling of material to eliminate `fugitive' dust. The new plant eliminated all the handling of the stone."

Previously, stone was picked up and dropped into bins for crushing. Now, stone goes into a covered enclosure where it is stacked and blended, then to an enclosed silo, he explained.

Roush said the company's investment is important for the town and its employees.

"We've been here 90 years and we want to be here another 90 years," he said. "The increased demand for cement in our area was a chance to modernize and expand the plant, and it means a long-term future here."

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