There may not be anything anybody can do, but if there is, somebody should. At least, as a community, we should show we care.
The future of Continental Refining Company, formerly Somerset Refinery, is in doubt. The refinery, one of only two in Kentucky, had its beginning back in the 1930s and has been a stable employer in Somerset for more than three quarters of a century.
The refinery found itself in deep financial trouble during the early 2000s and was forced to shut down. Demetrios Haseotes, owner and past director of the Cumberland Group of Companies, bought the refinery in December 2011 and it resumed production in January 2013.
About a year and a half ago, the refinery shut down again for an assessment period which reportedly would lead to a $75 million modernization. The assessment period was supposed to end sometime this spring.
Now, Haseotes, one of the most candid and transparent business owners we know, told the Commonwealth Journal chances of the refinery resuming production are slightly more than 50-50. He said it would be years, at least two years, before production could resume. The some 17 employees remaining at the refinery have been told the same, Haseotes said.
SPEDA, the city's and county's new economic development organization, says its No. 1 priority is assisting existing businesses. Maybe they have but we haven't heard SPEDA mention assisting Continental Refining Company.
There may be no way to help. Refining crude oil is a complex business. Bad relations with area producers created before Haseotes may have done irreparable damage to the local refinery.
Haseotes is being honest with his employees and the community. Surely somebody from SPEDA, somebody from the mayor's and county judge's offices, will sit down and talk with Mr. Haseotes, tell him we want Continental Refining Company to continue being a part of this community. Ask him if there is anyway we can help.
THE COMMWEALTH JOURNAL EDITORIAL BOARD is composed of Michael McClerry, Publisher; Jeff Neal, Editor; Bill Mardis, Editor Emeritus; Steve Cornelius, Sports Editor; Mary Ann Flynn, Advertising; Chris Harris, Staff Writer; and Shirley Randall, Production.