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Strong showing at DEC's Lafarge hearing

The company would like to start construction this year and finish up in 2014. The $400 million project would create 800 construction jobs, Lafarge said.

Those benefits economic benefits were the focus of a slew of politicians and business leaders who provided comments Thursday.

Michael Tucker, president of the Center for Economic Growth, was one of many speakers who noted Lafarge doesn't have to build in Ravena, and argued the plant would be "in jeopardy" without the modernization.

"We do live in a global economy and we are subjected to global competition," he said.

Others said it would be folly to turn away private investment, especially at this time.

"Unlike many projects of this size, it's not dependent on a significant investment from the state to go forward," said Ken Polasky of the Business Council of New York. "It's important that job retention receives as much attention as job creation."

Other notable figures speaking at the event or issuing statements through a representative (all supportive of the project) were Congressman Paul Tonko, Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin, Coeymans Councilman Thomas Boehm, Vice President of the Albany Chamber of Commerce Diana Ehrlich, Ravena Mayor John Bruno and Ravena Councilman Bruce Roberts.

Plant employees and citizens of Ravena also spoke, largely in support of the modernization. Mary Dristoll, a 45-year resident of Ravena, said the Lafarge plant has been vital to the community's economic health for many years.

"Our community has the opportunity to become a ghost town or the home of the most modern cement plant in the United States," she said.

The public comment period on the modernization environmental statement will remain open until Feb. 22, though Thursday's meeting was the last public hearing. Written comments may be faxed to 357-2460 or emailed to r4dep@gw.dec.state.ny.us.""

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