Rotarian Jim Schoen, right, hosted guest speaker Kelly Kepner, Director of Benton County Economic Development, at the regular Monday noon luncheon meeting.  Ms. Kepner brought good news of a new business venture in Sheff in near by Benton County.  The Appalachian Railcar Services, Inc. of Eleanor, West Virginia, a company that specializes in the maintenance and storage of rail cars, found that the 3 1/4 mile long disconnected Norfolk Southern line that extends from 700N. to 900N. and into Newton County would be an ideal fit for its railcar services.  When a new building is completed and the old tracks are restored, an investment of circa 1.1 million, the spur will connect with the Kankakee, Beaverville & Southern Railroad (KBSR) north of Earl Park.  There will be approx. 20 new jobs with good salaries.  Welding skills might be helpful, but the State is also committed to helping to train new employees.  When hired and trained workers will be maintaining railcars such as:  covered hoppers, coal cars, open-top hoppers, boxcars, gondolas, center beams, air operated bottom dumps and coil cars. 


Appalachian Railcar Services had first contacted the White County Economic Development Organization looking for a feasible site for their maintenance service, but no suitable sites were found in White County.  So, Connie Neininger, Director of White County Economic Development, referred ARS to Benton County where the abandoned Norfolk Southern rail facility meeting their needs was found.  While all of the details have not yet been worked out,  Benton County workers have been busy clearing brush and laying a gravel driveway at the site---- a promising sign of good things to come. 


Brandt Stum

Kentland Rotary Club