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Dravo was a good fit, at the time

November 4, 2008 - Jim Bartholow
Recent headlines about the future of the coal industry got me to thinking about Marietta's prominence in the field of fabricating pipes for nuclear power plants around the world. Nuclear power is being mentioned as a possible alternative to fossil fuel for generating electricity. Back in the '70s, Marietta's Dravo Corp. plant on Gilman Avenue Westview Avenue was busy beyond belief. It looked like the business would be a solid employer for a long time. Dravo had a stack of contracts to provide piping for a number of nuclear power plants that were to be built. The work meant a skilled workforce was needed and Marietta's reputation for having top-notch pipefitters to fabricate the piping was on the rise. Then came the Seabrook, N.H., nuclear power plant. Initially two units were to be built, but a steady stream of protests over that form of power, caused delays and plans for the second unit were canceled. A construction permit was granted in 1976 and work was finished by 1986, but the handwriting was on the wall — anyone building a nuclear plant faced a long fight for permits, funding and a potential public relations disaster for being labeled anti-environment. Then in 1979, the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident in Pennsylvania sealed the fate for widespread nuclear power generation for the forseeable future. That meant Dravo held millions of dollars in contracts to make pipe for plants that were never going to be built. Eventually, Dravo sold the Marietta facility to Connex Pipe Systems, which kept going until it closed in 1993, eliminating 110 jobs. Many of those pipfitters found other work at Pioneer Pipe in Marietta or through the Plumbers and Pipfitters union. However, many of those workers must travel to jobs outside the Marietta area, but their skills are still being used, meaning local people are still earning money, just not the way the envisioned years ago. So, the Dravo plant is part of Marietta's history, but it's still a contributor, through its pipefitters, to the local economy.

Browns backer I contribute to the weekly football picks that appear in our weekend paper and I will tell you now I will no longer pick against the Browns. I usually pick them anyway, but a few weeks ago I had a lapse of faith and picked the Giants to beat Cleveland. Obviously, that must have inspired the team, because they beat the defending Super Bowl champs, a team that hasn't lost to anyone else all year. Go figure! Anyway, my apologies to loyal Browns fans. And, I'm excited to see how Brady Quinn does as the new starting QB. He might be a bit rusty, but then again he might provide a spark the team needs. The season is far from lost, but they have to start winning. How about Thursday night?

Baseball I'm not surprised to hear the Yankees are going to try to sign prized free agents Manny Ramirez and CC Sabathia. Just like the '70s when the Yanks made a steal of a deal with Tribe to get Chris Chambliss and Craig Nettles for Fritz Peterson and a host of other scrubs. Cleveland did get a measure of revenge on the Yanks in the '90s when they traded an aging David Justice to New York for an up and coming pitcher named Jake Westbrook. Now THAT was a good deal.


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