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Old foundry site sold, bringing cheer to Kendallville

Now that a Lexington, Kentucky, company has bought a vacant plant, Kendallville boosters hope business springs from the site.

Dalton Foundry was purchased for an undisclosed sum, officials said Monday.

Garrett LLC plans to demolish the foundry and rehabilitate the location for new industry or sell the site to the city to market it.

Getting the foundry, which spans at least a city block, shovel-ready will bolster an area in need of redevelopment.

“It gets rid of an eyesore,” said Kendallville Mayor Suzanne Handshoe. “It is somewhat bittersweet because that plant has been in the community for a long time and meant a lot.”

The foundry, which opened in 1927, had ranked among the largest local employers and was one of the largest city water and utility customers.

When it closed in 2009, it employed more than 200 workers.

Likely at its height, the plant employed 340 in 2007, but that began to dwindle not long after. Workers at the foundry earned $15 an hour on average.

Dalton made gray-iron castings for air conditioning, refrigeration, engine heads and other products.

City councilman James C. Dazey II said he is glad to see the site being redeveloped for future use.

“It’s been a long time, it seems like,” he said.

Despite pleas and offers of tax breaks and other incentives to keep the plant open, Dalton’s parent company, Neenah Enterprises Inc. of Neenah, Wisconsin, said the recession forced its hand.

Mayor Handshoe said a press conference with more details about Garrett LLC is tentatively scheduled for July 15.

pwyche@jg.net

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