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Columbiana Port Authority Leases Land to Chesapeake
EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio – The Columbiana County Port Authority last night authorized the lease of 40.5 acres of property in Darlington Township, Pa., to Chesapeake Exploration LLC.
The land is part of a parcel the port authority acquired from Railroad Ventures Inc. on Jan. 23, 2011. The five-year lease is effective until Sept. 9, 2017 with the option for one additional five-year extension. When production begins, Chesapeake will pay the port authority 15% royalty. Chesapeake made an upfront payment for the property of $1,500 per acre, which is a little less than the lease the company signed with the port authority in May for 43.9 acres in Darlington. Under that least, Chesapeake agreed to pay $1,800 per acre.
The port authority’s CEO, Tracy Drake, said this property, in Beaver County, Pa., “will be part of a 600-acre unit” that Chesapeake is acquiring for shale gas drilling.
At the meeting, the board extended Drake’s contract through Sept. 30, 2013, with two one-year extensions subject to board approval prior to the expiration of each one-year term. Drake's base salary is $200,000.
During the 19 years Drake has been with the port authority, the organization’s assets have increased to $34 million, up from $5 million, said its chairman, Steve Cooper. Drake’s work with the shale industry will “play a huge part” in future development of the area, and the role he’s played at the state and national levels “helped put Columbiana County on the map,” he said.
“The success he’s had here has been great. We’re pleased to offer him this extension of his contract,” Cooper added.
In addition to the oil and shale industry developing in the area, Drake said he’s also seeing traditional manufacturing coming back to northeast Ohio, which is opening up development and infrastructure opportunities for the port authority as well as additional usage of the Wellsville Intermodal Facility.
“We’re already moving steel coils through the terminal, and we’re moving bulk product for the Cimbar facility,” Drake said. “So, I have a fairly strong comfort level that that terminal will be 24/7 in the near future.”
The port authority operates as an enterprise agency, earning money to cover its costs, Drake explained, which means his new contract “will not cost the taxpayers of Columbiana County a dime.
“Over the past 19 years, I’ve brought in an average of $1.6 million per year in grants and earmarks that have gone into infrastructure improvements that benefit the county,” Drake said. “I’m proud to say that partially due to my efforts, the county is recognized in the state and nationally as a key transportation hub for this important economic region.”
In other business, the board entered into a bond resolution with the Delaware-based Apex Environmental LLC to modify bonds issued to Apex in December 2004 for the construction of solid waste disposal facility. The board agreed to modify the terms of the bond so it can be used for equipment. In December 2004, the port authority authorized the sale of $45 million in solid waste facility revenue bonds to finance the landfill that would sit on a 1,700-acre site in Jefferson and Harrison counties.