New Enterprise Stone & Lime

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The Tyrone Forge quarry, owned by New Enterprise Stone & Lime, Inc., supplies blacktop, concrete, lime and crushed stone. For us, the quarry is a bit of mixed blessing. Since it’s only a little over a mile away from our houses as the crow flies, we get noise and light pollution from it – though nothing like the folks living right next to it in the villages of Nealmont, Ironville and Tyrone Forge.

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But it’s damned convenient having a source of 2RC gravel so close to the bottom of our lane. “Lane” perhaps fails to convey the reality of a mile-and-a-half-long, one-lane road up a northeast-facing, steep mountain ravine. Road maintenance has been a constant preoccupation for us in the 35 years we’ve lived here. There are always trees to be cleared, rocks to be pitched off, ditches to be dug out, cross-grates to be cleaned (picture half-culvert pipes topped with narrow versions of cattle guards), ruts to be raked out, and potholes to be filled. So they know us pretty well at the quarry. It’s a fairly friendly place, and the state Department of Economic and Community Development has listed New Enterprise as one of the 50 best companies of its size class to work for.

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Up through the 1970s, the quarry was a small, family-owned operation. But when it was bought up by New Enterprise, it began to expand almost overnight, gobbling up hundreds of acres of valuable farmland. Though limestone quarries don’t produce anywhere near the kind of pollution that other forms of mining do, they can still produce a lot of silt runoff, which can have a devastating effect on aquatic life. And the Tyrone Forge quarry sits right on the banks of the Little Juniata River, a high-quality trout stream. According to FlyFishingConnection.com,

Little Juniata River, located in the Southern region of Central Pennsylvania, is a river that’s making a comeback with help from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and environmental awareness. Throughout the 1960s, raw sewage and pollutants from local mills ran into the Little Juniata from towns above. Cleanup started in the early ’70s and today, the Little Juniata is a large river with large deep pools, moderate water, and prolific hatches supporting the thousands of fingerlings stocked by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission each year. This river is one of the finest in the State of Pennsylvania, running through two counties (Blair and Huntington).

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In March, New Enterprise applied for a permit to expand further–

to deepen the quarry, add additional mining and support area, add an additional sediment pond, add a NPDES discharge point, and change the postmining land use on New Enterprise Stone & Lime Company’s property from forest and cropland to unmanaged natural habitat (251.4 acres) and permanent water impoundment (137.4 acres).

So if this is approved, they will become stewards of a small lake and over 250 acres of “natural” habitat.

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Meanwhile, the parent company continues its active involvement in the permanent destruction and fragmentation of habitat through highway construction. In 2000, New Enterprise was the successful bidder for the construction of a ten-mile stretch of the newly christened Interstate 99 just north of here. Thus, it became the official executioner of a once-beautiful section of Bald Eagle Mountain – the very same ridge we live on – tearing a gash out of its wooded flank that in some places reaches all the way to the ridge crest. The quarry roars through the night to supply the stone and concrete for former Congressman Elmer Greinert “Bud” Shuster’s “Highway to Nowhere.” By sheer coincidence, New Enterprise was always a heavy contributor to Shuster’s campaign chest. (It has continued that pattern with Bud’s son and dynastic successor, Bill Shuster. In the current election cycle, Son of Bud is the second-largest recipient of campaign donations from the building materials industry in the U.S. Congress.)

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Bud Shuster was no stranger to such amazing coincidences during his tenure in power. His highway-building zeal found its fullest expression in his chairmanship of the powerful Congressional Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, during which time he aided and abetted the most expensive road construction boondoggle in U.S. history, Boston’s Big Dig. If you live in Boston and have learned to appreciate the convenience and fine workmanship of this engineering marvel, you can thank his stalwart supporters at New Enterprise Stone & Lime – and you can thank us, the residents of Plummer’s Hollow, for helping to keep them in business. Have a nice day.

21 Comments


  1. re: the Big Dig…actually one of the contractors responsible for concrete is being sued for allegedly using a shoddy product which may or may not be causing all the leaks.

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  2. Well, I didn’t say it was all Bud’s fault! But it does amaze me that they/we can spend so much money and still get it wrong.

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  3. We have a large, active quarry less than a mile from our house. Our place shakes apart when they do their daily blast. I’m going to take my camera next time I do my usual bike route (the bike path — a former railroad line — cuts into the quarry property) and see if I can get some photos like yours. (I love the one with the dump trucks!)

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  4. Okay, I’m intrigued. What’s up with the May 7 excerpt from a blog named Via Negativa in your Smorgasblog? Another.. another blog?

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  5. Peter – I shot all those photos from the open window of my Dad’s dump truck as we drove slowly through the quarry on Saturday. Most of them were blurry, but with the extreme modification, it hardly matters. Glad you liked that photo of the dump trucks – that was my favorite, too.

    Another blog with the exact same address, even! But I think her jealousy was misplaced; Via Negativa is still my main squeeze. Smorgasblog is just my blog on the side.

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  6. Dave and Via Negativa Readership, While it is certainly true that money-bought influence is distasteful and certainly damaging to our democracy, what I most liked about this piece was the complexity you introduce by acknowledging the personal benefits you get from the quarry — and that by the standards of today, the company might be relatively better than others. Hey, and isn’t it us liberals that generally support relativist thinking as opposed to absolutist thinking?

    Also note that influence-pedaling is a spectrum. A friend tells you she is hiring and you think of another friend, who doesn’t know the first, who might be good for the job. You put in a good word and help the two to meet.

    By asserting there is a continuum I’m not seeing that we’re all equally contributing to the demise of democratic life. But it is interesting to think about where the line is for crossing from appropriate to inappropriate.

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  7. Thanks for pointing all that out. Those are exactly the sorts of reactions I was hoping to provoke! It’s not just liberals, though. I do know some conservatives, libertarians and even a few leftists who are also capable of seeing more than one side of an issue.

    I am not sure where to place myself on the polical spectrum sometimes, but I do feel that it’s fatal to look at things in isolation. (See thinkBuddha-org’s recent post on torture for a good critique of “thought experiments” as an approach to social and political solutions.) Even if New Enterprise Stone & Lime donated to causes and candidates I like, I would still have a hard time endorsing them whoile-heartedly simply because they are wedded to a gasoline-driven economy that is environmentally and socially unsustainable. There will always be a need for roads and road-building materials, but it doesn’t have be on anywhere near the scale it is now.

    And at the risk of sounding like a leftist fossil, I will always have a problem with any division between owners and workers, or between owners/workers and native inhabitants. But with that kind of idealism, naturally I can’t help seeing most of my personal and political choices as compromises of one sort or another.

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  8. “I would still have a hard time endorsing them whoile-heartedly simply because they are wedded to a gasoline-driven economy that is environmentally and socially unsustainable”

    What is a person to do then? As an artist, being actively engaged in the materials of one’s cultural is not only unavoidable, but desirable. How else would one participate in the culture of one’s one time?

    I carve stone, and that activity has a very industrial, heavy equipment aspect to it. I could work only with hand tools, but that is a very isolating approach, as I would then be cut off from all the whirling energies of industrial might. Diesel engines and giant trucks are cool, even if they are suicidally unsustainable. It is very difficult not to tap into all the mechanization availible. It is unavoidable when the primary material, stone, is quarried using all means possible. One could work with only smaller, found stone, but then again one is resisting the great industrial genie, the great shaper and maker of our cultural time. In some sense art is a practice of technology applied in a playful spirit. People carve the way they do becasue of the technology of the time. The stone age, the iron age, the pneumatic age and now is the age of the industrial diamond saw twinned with the pneumatic hammer. For this art to speak of its age it requires the agent of the diesel air compressor. In some part the work must be of the compressor and of the diamonds saw and air hammer. They are ghosts in the stone, almost present as subject matter. They are certainly the subject MANNER (italics).

    Oh Dave, bless me to dance in rapture with the wizard! No? Then I must anyway. How can I hold back? Shall we ban sculpture? Half of me says it would be a good thing to make that choice for myself. But the half of me that wants to be held, to join, wants to dance the diesel dance. Yes, I am a killer and want to kill! I only require the death of the plant to satisfy my urge. What a splendid and significant sacrifice. If the coal consumption of the U.S. alots to 600 lbs per person per day, what does a person such as yourself who has only a 100 lbs footprint say to one with a 1,500 lbs footprint? Nothing much good I would guess. Good thing I am only a small time hobbyist, but my aspirations remain caked with heavy industry and oil.

    I want my diesel. I will have my diesel…

    Can I exorcise this demon in me? Isn’t it just easier to give the demon his diesel?

    The dichotomy of the choice brings to mind paintings of the young man considering a women to his left and a women to his right, one sacred, one profane; one is love, one is lust. Very sexy arrangement. Love and lust eye each other competitively, square-off, then begin to wrestle. Love is entangled with lust, wholly penetrated by profane. Diesel is the ground of death upon which they tussle, pouring in, blacking the stems of all flowers.

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  9. Bio-Diesel!!!

    However, I share Bill’s duality. Half of me wants 40 acres and a mule, the other half wants a 5,000 square foot MacMansion. Maybe, one day, I will have both just has I have both Love and Lust in one SWMBO.

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  10. it is the truth in all of our lives to one degree or another. even in the things we love – trees for paper for books – quartz for silcon for cameras for images. it has grown so tangled that i cannot concieve of a simple answer.

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  11. “Via Negativa is still my main squeeze. Smorgasblog is just my blog on the side.” Yes, and you could point out that it’s all stolen material. Although I’m not sure that would make it better or worse. It’s in the “gray area” so to speak.

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  12. Bill – I think it’s very important that artists participate in the culture in the manner you describe. I’m not interested in the ivory tower approach – and certainly, as a poet who has chosen blogging as his primary medium of expression, I am as thoroughly enmeshed in industrial and post-industrial processes as you are.

    “In some sense art is a practice of technology applied in a playful spirit.” I like that! Don’t ask me for absolution, though. That’s not within my power, and you know it.

    Keith – Bio-diesel uses as much energy as it yields. Of course, right now, as an individual, you can probably get all the used fryer oil you need and brew it into diesel – that’s not supposed to be too difficult. But on a large scale, it’s a false hope – unless we can grow it organically and with horse-power. Someday we’ll be driving cars with fuel provided by the Amish…

    Practically speaking, there is no substitute for rail freight and mass transit. Shipping goods by rail uses 1/100th as much diesel as it takes to ship the same goods by truck. A forward-thinking federal energy policy, geared toward reducing our dependence on oil, would recognize that. As for power generation, I favor harnessing the tides to power coastal cities and harnessing wind power on the high plains. Then there’s methane (Americans are uniquely full of shit, let’s take advantage of it), passive solar and earth-sheltered design. And conservation!

    Who will clean that 5,000-square-foot house? How will you feel at home in it? I want to go in the opposite direction. My present cottage is too large by half! I hate cleaning, and I love small, cozy spaces. I actually fantasize about someday living in a airstream trailer.

    Anne -  You said it.

    Leslee – The gray area, indeed! Stolen, perhaps – but with the greatest respect.

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  13. “Don’t ask me for absolution”

    No that wouldn’t be you. But if guilt and absolution are entwined, one requiring the other, you, the ablest informer of my guilt aren’t far off.

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  14. the ablest informer of my guilt
    Not sure if I want that responsibility, either! But if you must indulge your sense of guilt, don’t let me stop you.

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  15. Of course you don’t. But your examinations afford a model of the balance between causing harm and having desire. Of course my guilt is a felt personal matter, but with the public examination you afford a consensual, and debatebal forensic model. Mitigation of harm can come trough private personal action, but it hopefully comes as well due to a shared public sense of responsibility. The work you do activates and incites the promulgation of a shared sensibility.

    Indulgence defines me. I will caress my guilt. It’s beautiful. I brush it like waist-length hair. My guilt is like a tuxedo and a ballroom gown. I will show my suffering in patent leather shoes. Perhaps I should shut the door while grooming myself, since we have to live together. Pardon my immodesty. Feedback helps!

    Oh! Along with your gravel road comes a homunculus, Igor, doesn’t it?

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  16. I worry that I’m not, and relieved to hear you think so. Why not have fun. Truth be told I’m on a coffee binge while waiting for grace.

    My guilt is so needy as to be quite unseemly. But it’s no good if it’s not public. Guilt blossoms on display, I think.

    I absolutely love to think of both guilt and fearfulness as an avenue for indulgence. Very slick! Thank you, it’s kept me quite busy. The concept of indulgence is somehow cubiform and hollow, a bracketing box for uncontainable dread and its topmast, guilt. A pier for a ship! That’s a little too neat such dark psychic forms.

    Once again, glad you are laughing, and not upset my broken mirrors should cast back at you. I do love Igor. I have a straining acquisitive desire toward all that is diesel. My luxurious id, what’s under my pelt, if you will, loves compressive combustion and its torque. So yes, I noticed your Igor.

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  17. Phooey. I’ve lost a comment, I think. Different computer. Didn’t log in.

    You are a gracious host to the idiosyncratic. Thanks for granting me board on your comment list. Well, it’s beyond thanks. Like knots in tangling lines, I get ideas here. I loved your the bracketing suggestion of indulgence as a thing one might do with guilt or fear. My indulgence has gone to seed in a hundred snug soils. Thank you.

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  18. My pleasure.

    You forgot to put your name to your previous comment, so it got held for moderation. There it is.

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  19. Yours is an interesting site, but it seems to have dropped off a cliff. I hope to pick this up again in mid-October, 2006, which is where I am living right now.

    Now, what led me to this was the connection between New Enterprise Stone & Lime and its subsidiaries, and the Shusters. People connected directly with New Enterprise and its subsidiary, Valley Quarries, are the largest contributors to the Bill Shuster campaign for reelection in 2006.

    Fellow Republican, John Eichelberger, put it pretty well when he said about Papa Bud “I think there are too many ethical questions for anyone to be comfortable with.”

    According to FEC documents, New Enterprise made illegal contributions to Shuster’s campaign. This was not a trivial matter. New Enterprise paid a fine of $150,000–the largest settlement of its kind in FEC history up to that time.

    And yet, the contributions to the 2006 campaign of Bill Shuster look just like the ones to his father back in the 1990s. Nothing has changed. I am urging the FEC to reopen its investigation of New Enterprise, Valley Quarries, and the Shusters.

    Don’t be surprised if I disappear, or my body turns up in a quarry somewhere. This is pretty serious business.

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