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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Ohio Valley Steelworker Statue - Re-Dedication

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Ohio Valley Steelworker Statue has been restored and placed at its new permanent site across S. 4th Street from the Main Library of the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County.


It has been a beautiful site this spring with the ornamental pear trees blooming behind the new statue’s placement, with its new shining coating of bronze and gold gleaming in the sunlight.


The story of the statue began in 2013 when plans for a major highway upgrade of the University Blvd. and SR 7 and bridge intersections showed that the Ohio Valley Steelworker Statue would be in the way of construction.


The ownership of the sculpture in 2013 was undetermined as the original project was performed by the Clean Community System of Steubenville-Wintersville, Inc.; an organization that no longer exists.


ODOT (Ohio Dept. of Transportation) stated that the steel man needed to be removed, or they would remove it as part of the highway project and take it to the scrap yard.


The City of Steubenville asked the Library Board if we would be willing to accept the statue for placement and work with the City as partners to find funding and allow its placement on library property overlooking the former Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corporation.


It was an exciting project to retain and place the Ohio Valley Steelworker Statue at a new location to retain it was part of the community and area.


The library system received a $ 10,000 grant from the J.C. Williams Charitable Trust of PNC Bank to assist with the project, and combined those funds with work donated by various people in our community to make the move a reality.


JDO Engineering, LLC designed a new base for the statue, as only the 3 ton steel portion was to be moved, and a new rectangular base was designed to hold the statue in the new location.


Fort Steuben Maintenance, Inc. was awarded the contract to construct the new base, and work was completed by the end of 2014 on that portion of the project.


The community needs to thank the Howard L. Bowers Contracting Co. of Wintersville for donating their staff and equipment to move the statue from its former site to the rear of the library for work through the summer of 2015.


The 25 years that the statue spent at its former location had not been kind to it, leaving a greasy gray film on its surface from vehicle exhaust.  A well-meaning coat of paint had changed its original bronze-gold luster to a grimy gray.


Retired library staffer Lee Tate spent the warm months of 2015 power-washing and sand blasting the steel statue, and applying a coating of primer to the whole surface.


The hand-held ladle had been bent over the years, and it took two pipe wrenches to restore it to its original position which would be retained by a bracket to the concrete base (this time) by steelworker John McGlone.


Just before winter, the Howard L. Bowers Contracting Co. took the Steelworker across the street and placed it on its new base as your librarian breathed a sigh-of-relief as the four bolts that had been placed deep in the concrete appeared through the holes of the statue base.


Since then, Signs, Ltd. added the new flag pole and LED lighting so it shines both day and night.


People have commented that the statue seems to be taller or shorter than it used to be; and we have changed the statue.  None of those assertions are correct, it is the same height as before, and the base height is the same as before.


The difference may be that formerly the statue was viewed from the lower level of the streets, and landscaping had grown up and covered some of the statue.


Regardless, we are proud at the library to allow the Ohio Valley Steelworker Statue to become part of our beautiful library setting, and rescue it from destruction by a highway project.


This was another of those “I didn’t learn this in Library School” things that seems to be part of a librarian’s career.


The Re-Dedication of the Ohio Valley Steelworker Statue will take place at 11:00 am on Friday, April 29, 2016 followed by a reception and refreshments at the library.