By Christmas 2016, 55 highly paid workers will be out of work in Wellsville. Early Thursday, Lufkin-RMT in Wellsville announced it would close its facility adjacent to the Wellsville Airport by November. The site sat idle for decades...the subject of many political jabs. Then, Lufkin-RMT decided to leave its smaller facility on Bolivar Road in the village of Wellsville. The company invested significant dollars to upgrade the Tarantine Boulevard site where it called home for the past few years. There was hope...until today. The Daily Reporter first broke the story on the plant closure earlier today. Since then, the reaction has been swift.
Wellsville Town Supervisor Donald "Tink" LaForge said the closure was "inevitable" because the local company is owned by General Electric and "it happens." LaForge said the situation is "difficult, but not impossible." The town supervisor said the county immediately sprung into action with support.
Allegany County Legislator Kevin LaForge (C-Wellsville) represents the local area. He said he "wasn't surprised" by the news, although he did say he was disappointed. LaForge said the primary cause is the states "overall lack of an energy policy...for the oil & gas industry." He added, "it's an assault on fossil fuel." The local businessman said he remains hopeful that a new company will quickly move in to the recently renovated manufacturing facility. Allegany County tax records show the 6.3 acre property is assessed at nearly $2 million.
Legislator Dwight Fanton (R-Willing) said "it's a sad day for employee's...not good news." Fanton said it was a "great facility with great employee's."
Legislator Karl Graves (R-Andover) whose district includes Wellsville said it was "terrible news." Graves said "it was a shock" when he received the news early Thursday. Graves said the energy economy has also impacted Dresser-Rand/Siemens and Alstom.
Legislator Dwight "Mike" Healey said he was disappointed by the news but said the county will work with the town.
Later this afternoon, Curt Crandall, Chairman of the County legislature issued this statement:
"I was saddened to learn that the employees of Lufkin RMT in Wellsville have been notified that the facility, a division of GE, plans to close by the end of the year. The hearts of the County Legislators go out to the employees and their families. They are our friends and neighbors, and a vital part of our community. These employees are hard-working, skilled men and women that represent Allegany County well in the quality products they produce. The County has reached out to our federal and state representatives as well as Empire State Development for assistance in retaining these valuable jobs in Allegany County. We will be working through our Development Office as well as our Employment and Training Office to open and explore all options and opportunities. "