FOLLANSBEE - Gov. Joe Manchin, Follansbee City Council and the Brooke County Commission were among area officials who turned out on May 4 to welcome a new Sheetz store and gas station to the city.
Stan Sheetz, president and chief executive officer of Sheetz Inc., thanked everyone for attending the groundbreaking ceremony for the 5,000 square foot store to be built at the intersection of state Route 2 and Veterans Drive.
He said the store, which will include seven pumps and an automated single-bay car wash, is tentatively set to open in September.
Sheetz said the Follansbee store will be among 30 West Virginia locations operated by the Altoona, Pa.-based chain. Six of them opened last year, and there are plans to open another four in the Mountain State, he said.
Sheetz said the location will offer the made-to-order sandwiches, specialty coffees and convenience items for which the chain is known and it will be open 24 hours a day every day of the year.
Sheetz said Sheetz stores typically cost about $3 million to build, including utility extensions.
He said the store will employ about 50, with the number of full-time staff depending on the level of business. Applications for the positions are being accepted online, he said.
Gov. Joe Manchin thanked Sheetz for investing in a Follansbee location and for bringing new jobs to the city.
"Every job is important in West Virginia," he said, adding, "This is an opportunity for a lot of people and they're going to appreciate it."
Manchin applauded Mayor Tony Paesano's efforts to promote the city, saying he "believes in this community like no other mayor I've seen here."
Paesano said bringing Sheetz to the city was a team effort that included City Manager John DeStefano, City Attorney Michael Gaudio and City Clerk David Kurcina and the support of Follansbee City Council.
Wheeling developer Lee Paull IV said Follansbee, who purchased the property from the city for $600,000 at a public auction in August, praised city officials for their cooperation in bringing the chain to Follansbee.
"The city of Follansbee should be commended because if it weren't for them, it wouldn't be here," he said.
While Sheetz said the location's close proximity to state Route 2 was a selling point for the company, Paull said the store also will be a good fit for the city.
"They are truly a community-based business," Paull said.
The Salvation Army, Make-a-Wish Foundation and Special Olympics are among causes supported by the corporation, according to Sheetz' Web site.
Paesano predicted the development will benefit residents throughout the area, a point echoed by Brooke County Commissioner Bernie Kazienko.
"It's a great day not only for Follansbee but also for Brooke County," he said, adding, "The impact it will have on this community is all positive."
Bob Whipp, West Virginia Division of Highways district engineer - who also attended the ceremony, was asked if the new store will affect existing traffic patterns.
He said there are no plans to change the placement of the signals at this time as traffic will enter and exit the store's lot from the adjacent Veterans Drive, though the timing of the signals could change if needed.
While crews have been clearing the two-acre lot for the future store, other crews have been preparing a lot behind the Rite Aid store northeast of the site to serve as the temporary home of the city's men's softball and pony league field.
The field had occupied the future site of the Sheetz store, with a portion of the city's baseball complex beside it untouched.
The fields sit on 12 acres purchased by the city, along with 6 acres north of Brooke Plaza, from Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp. for $1.3 million in hopes of attracting new businesses and jobs.
The Rite Aid site was the first to be sold, at a price of $720,000 to Orion Development, a local developer that brought various businesses to the plaza.
City officials have made plans to permanently relocate the city's baseball leagues and football league, which plays on land north of the plaza, to a proposed athletic complex on 30 acres below Highland Hills and donated by Wheeling-Pitt.
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