Connellsville Industrial Enterprises dissolving, showering nonprofits with donations

| Friday, May 24, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Connellsville Industrial Enterprises will soon be dissolving after approximately 60 years of helping to create or maintain jobs in the area.

John Fiesta, a member of the CIE board, said the group formed because local business Anchor Hocking needed a new warehouse at one time.

“We sold 10-year and 15-year $100 bonds to people in the community,” he said. “They would take their book to the bank once a year and get their dollar, and then at the end of the 10 or 15 years, they would get their $100 back.”

With the sale of the bonds, the group made enough money to build the warehouse and then invested the rest.

“The whole idea was for the local community to participate in helping to retain or create additional jobs,” Fiesta said.

From there, the group bought a piece of property off Bellview Road, which eventually became Connellsville Industrial Enterprises business park.

Fiesta said that to date, the park is 100 percent filled and all of the property has been sold. Therefore, there is no longer any reason to keep the group together.

Van Humbert, a CIE board member, said Fay-Penn Economic Development Council now does what the group was formed to do, but on a bigger scale, so there really is not a whole lot of need for the CIE anymore.

Since the group is dissolving, the bylaws state that any money left must be distributed to local 501c3 nonprofit organizations within the Connellsville Area School District.

Last year the group gave $250,000 — a big chunk of the remaining funds — to Highlands Hospital in Connellsville for the Autism Center that is being created there.

Last week, CIE dispersed another $75,000 between four local organizations, including the Carnegie Free Library, Yough River Trail Council, Fayette County Cultural Trust and Wesley Health Center.

Marilyn Weaver, executive director for the Wesley Health Center, said the $30,000 donation it received was a huge blessing.

“We can get grants to buy things, but it's extremely difficult to get grants to pay for salaries or operating expenses,” she said, adding that the funds will be used to help pay the salaries of the three part-time employees.

“This has been a dream come true,” Weaver said. “This should pay all three salaries for at least a half a year.”

Ted Kovall, board president for the Yough River Trail Council, said the organization has a two-year outstanding loan, which still has a nearly $20,000 balance left for the large tractor purchased to maintain the bike trail.

“We can't get a grant for equipment, so this will pay off that loan,” Kovall said of the $20,000 donation.

The Fayette County Cultural Trust will use its $10,000 donation from the CIE to help build the Connellsville Canteen, which will house a visitors center, model train and cafe.

“We depend on these kinds of donations right now,” said Michael Edwards, board president of the trust. “We are building the canteen so that we can be self-sustaining at some point. But for now, it's these donations that are vital to keeping our organization going.”

The library received a $15,000 donation.

Fiesta said he thinks the CIE might have approximately $70,000 left to disperse.

Rachel Basinger is a freelance writer.

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