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Farewell Wagner Manufacturing

Published By Sidney Daily News on June 16, 2023
Tim Barhorst In The News

SIDNEY — Shelby County Commission President and Chair of the Shelby County Land Reutilization Corporation Bob Guillozet has announced that a ceremony celebrating the demolition of the former Wagner Manufacturing complex is being planned. The ceremony is scheduled to be held at the site on Monday, June 26, 2023, at 10 a.m.

Invited guests who have confirmed they will attend include Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman. In addition to serving as Senate pesident, Huffman represents the 12th Ohio Senate District. The district includes Allen, Champaign, Mercer and Shelby counties, as well as parts of Auglaize, Darke and Logan counties. Huffman was instrumental in helping secure funding for the demolition of the building and cleanup of the site.

Also confirmed as attending is 85th Ohio House District Rep. Tim Barhorst. The 85th District includes Shelby and Champaign counties as well as the southern portion of Logan County.

Also attending will be 78th Ohio House District Representative Susan Manchester. The 78th District currently encompasses Allen County and the northern portion of Auglaize County. Prior to redistricting, Manchester‘s district included a portion of Shelby County.

Other speakers include Sidney City Manager Andrew Bowsher, Shelby County Commissioner and Shelby County Land Reutilization Board Member Julie Ehemann, retired Western Reserve Land Conservancy Senior Vice President Jim Rokakis, and Shelby County Commissioner and Guillozet. First Presbyterian Church pastor the Rev. Carol Pierson will offer the invocation. Sidney City Councilmember and Shelby County Land Reutilization Vice Chair Mike Barhorst will serve as master of ceremonies.

The Wagner Manufacturing complex includes more than a dozen interconnected buildings, and has been abandoned for some years. Several of the buildings have either already collapsed or are in danger of collapsing.

“This is a ceremony that we wish we would not be observing,” Guillozet said. “It is really a sad ending to a company that provided employment for hundreds of local residents over more than a century.”

“We did want to plan an event that helped recognize those who have helped generate the funds that will pay the demolition costs, which are substantial,” Guillozet said. “In addition, we want to ensure that the site is ‘clean’ of environmental hazards so that it can be returned to a useful purpose once the buildings are gone.”

“A lot of people have worked for years on this project,” Barhorst said, “many of them working behind the scenes. I really haven’t any idea of how many hours have been spent to get to this point, in some cases, by people who are now deceased. It has been a long-time coming.”

“Since the Land Bank was established, we have acquired 109 units, 80 of which have been demolished,” Land Bank Director Doug Ahlers said. “Those have been residential units located in Botkins, Fort Loramie, Jackson Center, Lockington, Maplewood, Port Jefferson and Sidney as well as units in rural Shelby County in Cynthian, Dinsmore, Franklin, Green, Loramie, McLean, and Salem townships. This will by far be the largest project we will have undertaken.”

“The observance planned for June 26 will take place rain or shine,” Guillozet said. “After all this time, we don’t want anything to get in the way of our progress. Members of the pubic who choose to attend may want to bring a lawn chair,” Guillozet concluded.

The contract for hazardous materials abatement and demolition was awarded to Complete Demolition Services, Louisville, Kentucky. Complete Demolition Services will begin mobilizing equipment at the site starting mid to late June.

Funding for the over $4 million project comes from multiple sources. The Shelby County Land Reutilization Corporation (Land Bank) was awarded $2,815,000 for the cleanup and remediation of the site through the Ohio Brownfield Remediation Program. In addition, the city received a $1 million earmark in the 2021-22 State of Ohio Capital Budget bill and has budgeted an additional $500,000 toward the site remediation. The Shelby County Commissioners have committed another $250,000 toward the project.

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