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CONCRETE PLANT SHOWCASES ROLE IN NEW CASINO

L. Chandler Whitford showed members of the Allegany County Legislature and some others his newest project.

The president of L.C. Whitford Co. of Wellsville led a bus tour Wednesday of the plant producing the concrete wall units and support columns for the parking garage at the Seneca Indian casino in Salamanca. Nearly 1,000 are trucked daily to the job site from the Bolivar Road plant.

Some of the precast concrete units are 60 feet long by 15 feet wide by 5 feet deep and weigh 43 tons, he said.

Whitford pointed to a stack of those "double-tee" castings on the runway of the former Wellsville airport, where a half-mile of them await shipment.

Whitford said he has added 40 people to the casting crew of 45 to 46 people to handle the project.

Whitford -- who invited the legislators to tour the plant -- said the work will be finished so the eight-story parking garage, "the tallest structure in southwestern New York," can open by New Year's Eve.

Whitford said he hopes to attract additional precast concrete work for the plant soon. The county has not contributed any money to the operation, and Whitford isn't looking for any. He just wanted to showcase his business, which is adding to the economy of Allegany County.

He said the double-tee slabs, the largest his plant is fabricating, will become the horizontal components of the garage -- floors, ceilings and roof.

The plant also is forming the walls, which will admit light along the sides, as well as support beams.

He said his company has invested about $1 million in new equipment and material to handle the casino work, including traveling yard cranes to load the concrete in Wellsville and unload in Salamanca.

While the crews had started working 16-hour days when the contract opened, he said, "They're down to about 12 hours, now," he said. "The fast-track challenges of this project were met with the immediate acquisition of land, forms, travel cranes, steam generator, trailers and test equipment."

Whitford called the Seneca decision to use local contractors "a boost to the Western New York economy."

And he said he hopes to take part in the construction of the hotel next to the casino and garage.

"We drove piles for that yesterday," he said.

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