Sunday, September 03, 2000

AK Steel to celebrate 100th year

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        MIDDLETOWN — For the past 100 years steel has rolled off the mills in Middletown — more than 135 million tons.

  AK Steel will hold A Century of Steelmaking in Middletown from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday, at corporate headquarters, 703 Curtis St.
 • Admission: Free. Bring folding chairs or blankets. Coolers and alcohol are prohibited. There will be a variety of free food and beverages.
 • Parking: Patrons can park at Barnitz Stadium, McKinley School, Middletown Public Library, Miami University Middletown Campus, Middletown High School, Smith Park and the former Target store and take free shuttle buses that will begin running at 9:30 a.m. The last bus will leave the festival grounds one hour past the end of the fireworks, scheduled for 9:45 p.m. Those with state-issued handicap parking permits may park in the New Era Baptist Church parking lot, 1120 Yankee Road.
 • Tours: Visitors may tour the Hot Strip Mill, the Electrogalvining Line or both. The first bus from festival grounds will leave at 10 a.m., the last at 3:30 p.m. Participants should allow 90 minutes for a single tour, 120 minutes for both. Those wishing to tour the plant must be 12 years old or older and at least 48 inches tall. Long pants and closed-toe shoes are required, long-sleeved shirts are recommended. Sleeveless shirts or blouses, wheelchairs, walking aids and high-heeled shoes are prohibited. Anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Expect high temperatures. Don't bring cameras.

        As millions of Americans take a day off work Monday to honor workers, AK Steel is opening its doors to a community celebration showcasing its operations and the nearly 3,700 hourly and salaried employees who make up the Middletown Works mills.

        It is one of the rare times that the steel giant is allowing the public into its facilities where steel has been made since George M. Verity founded the American Rolling Mill Company on what was then Doty's Grove — a picnic area — in 1900.

        Since those early days it has changed names twice — Armco and now AK Steel — and grown to become Butler County's largest employer with 4,100 workers, including those assigned to corporate headquarters.

        The company's 100th birthday party has been in the works for the past year. More than 80 volunteers will man booths, run children's games and explain how steel is made. Personal and company artifacts from the last 100 years will be on display, chronicling the history of steelmaking in Middletown.

        “"This is a massive undertaking,” said Mr. McCoy, who said the planning committee is preparing for 20,000 to 30,000 visitors.

        "'A lot of people have put in a lot of hours on this,” said Lee Hartman, an executive administrative assistant.

        A variety of musical entertainment will be provided, topped by a fireworks show at 9:45 p.m.

        On hand will be William Verity, retired chairman of Armco Inc. and grandson of George M. Verity. He, along with AK Steel chairman and chief executive officer Rich ard M. Wardrop Jr. and Armco Employees Independent Federation President Ed Shelley will speak briefly at 8:30 p.m. before the announcement of a monetary grant from the AK Steel Foundation.


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