Alton Telegraph (Newspaper) - June 5, 1999, Alton, Illinois
SERVING THE RIVER BEND SINCE 1836
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Vol. 164, No. 141 — 50 cents
Saturday, June 5,1999
Make sure your car doesn’t break down and leave you over-heatedSpecial Section www.thetelegraph.comClark buying refinery
Employees assured of plant’s stability
The Telegraph/JOHN BADMAN
The older and smaller Clark Refinery in Hartford can be seen in the foreground in relation to the much larger Wood River Refining Co., to the rear, which is in Roxana.
By KERRY SMITH and ANDE YAKSTIS
Telegraph staff writers
ROXANA — Equilon Enterprises LLC ended months of speculation when it announced Friday it is selling its Wood River Refining Co. at Roxana to Clark USA Inc.
Jim Morgan, Equilon president and CEO, informed the refinery’s 1,050 employees of the intended sale Friday morning and held separate briefings for union workers, who are 60 percent of the plant’s employees.
Rumors have been rampant for a year about Clark’s possible purchase of the refinery, which produced its first gasoline in 1918 as Shell Oil Co. of Roxana.
Morgan’s message carried words of encouragement and stability about the future of the plant and its employees, said Phil Schwin, Wood River Refining manager.
Morgan broke the news at 9:30 a m. to about 20 representatives of ll refinery unions, including the big Operating Engineers local at the plant on Illinois Route 111.
He informed the representatives that Clark would honor the unions’ three-year contract, which has more than two years remaining.
Roxana’s 2,000-acre refinery, known as Shell
Shell provided jobs for thousands in area
for 80 years, is a division of Houston-headquartered Equilon Enterprises LLC and is jointly owned by Shell and Texaco.
“The refinery has dedicated and excellent employees." Morgan told workers. "The long history of this refinery reflects very positively on your efforts, 24 hours a day, year in, year out. We thank each of you for the hard work you’ve done to maintain the refinery as a competitive plant in a very challenging business environment.’’
Schwin said the sale agreement, which has been in the works for nearly a year, is in its initial approval stage, and the two companies will work to finalize the agreement.
Schwin said Equilon's business strategy is to sell its Roxana refinery to Clark USA and to simultaneously sell its plant in El Dorado, Kan., to another owner as an effort to concentrate more intently on four other key areas nationwide: lubricants, transportation, pipeline and marketing.
■ See CLARK, Page A-11
Workers accustomed to change
By KERRY SMITH
Telegraph staff writer
ROXANA — Friday’s formal announcement of Clark USA Inc.’s impending buyout of Wood River Refining Co. came as no surprise to longtime plant employees, many of whom have been discussing the topic for nearly a year.
Pipefitter and welder Bob Blaine, who has worked at the refinery for 21 years, said he went through a similar transition at the plant in 1994, when he survived a Shell reduction in force but saw 67 of his coworkers leave.
A Brighton resident, Blaine was transferred from his current position to one in operations for two-and-a-half years,
■ See WORKERS, Page A-11
The Telegraph/JOHN BADMAN Workers leave the main gate of the Wood River Refining Co. in Roxana Friday after Clark USA Inc. announced its intent to buy the plant.
Two young stars spark Lady Hawks
By LOUIE KORAC
Telegraph sports writer
PEKIN — Experience is a necessity when a ballclub is trying to win a state championship.
The Carrollton Lady Hawks have plenty of experience, but they also have some youngsters who are playing like seasoned veterans.
Freshman second baseman Alicia DeShasier and sophomore shortstop Karen Brannan have provided the Lady Hawks (34-3 before Friday night’s game) with timely bats and great gloves.
The twosome are going about playing in the Illinois High School Association’s Class A State Tournament like it’s no big deal to them, showing little or no intimidation being around some of the best the state has to offer.
■ See HAWKS, Page A-11
Area/Illinois . .A-3,7 Bulletin Board .A-6
Nation/world . .A-10
Blasingim, Cornelison, Kessinger, Laughlin, Loafman, Makuh, McCauley, Schwegel
Scoreboard ... .C-2
Thunderstorm cancels Alton High graduation
By ANDE YAKSTIS
Telegraph staff writer
ALTON — A violent thunderstorm with high winds, heavy rain and lightning raged through the area Friday evening, canceling the Alton High School graduation and knocking out power to homes and businesses.
“The graduation ceremony was canceled, probably for the first time in history,” Alton School District Superintendent Michael Beaber said.
Beaber said late Friday night that school officials still hoped to reschedule the ceremony for tonight or Sunday.
He said the school’s computer system would call the parents of all graduating seniors to inform them when the decision is made. The information also will be broadcast on WBGZ Radio in Alton, and Beaber said he would ask St. Louis television and radio stations to spread the news.
The storm blew a tree down
School officials will call parents to inform them when ceremony is rescheduled.
across high-voltage power lines in the 600 block of Jefferson Street, knocking out power to the auditorium of West Middle School in the 1500 block of State Street, where the high school graduation had been moved after the outdoor ceremony was rained out.
Assistant Chief Stephen Mikoff of the Alton Fire Department said a pumper remained at the scene on Jefferson until 10:15 p.m., when power was restored after crews from ArnerenUE repaired the downed lines.
Alton firefighters were busy
■ See STORM, Page A-11
The Telegraph/JOHN BADMAN Jaime Bechtold gets a comforting hug from her father, Larry, outside of West Middle School in Alton Friday after learning that power outages had canceled the Alton High School graduation.