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Columbiana County on the brink of an oil and gas rush

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COLUMBIANA COUNTY, Ohio – For months the Columbiana County Recorder's Office has been packed with oil and gas company representatives searching out property deeds and mineral rights.

A map by state geologists ranks Columbiana County as good to very good for oil and gas drilling potential.

Now wells are being drilled and site preparation work for additional well pads is underway. The county engineer says new permits are being issued every day.

"The latest count is a total of 55 permits in the county", said Engineer Bert Dawson.

More than a dozen companies, including Chesapeake, Chevron, Shell, and BP have locked in leases across the county, paying lucrative contracts to hundreds of land owners, including 550 acres owned by the county.

You don't have to look far to find evidence of the new industry's economic impact. Columbiana is no longer the only county in Ohio without a paved courthouse parking lot.

Commissioner Mike Halleck says there are other signs of growth." Just here in little Lisbon you can go up Market Street now there's not a vacant building," Halleck said.

The industry is attracting new businesses, like O.R.C.A Outdoors, who want to be a part of the shale supply chain.

"We decided we'd bring in steel toed boots which are useful for the oil rig workers, as well as other gear which is flame retardant," said O.R.C.A owner Amy Arneault

Truck traffic is on the increase, but the county was the first in the state to initiate road use maintenance agreements with the oil and gas companies.

"In many cases they're strengthening the roads, in some cases they're paving them and practically in all cases they're going to pave them after the works done," Dawson said.

And while there is a lot going on now, Commissioner Halleck says it's only the beginning.

"The next step is these mid-stream companies putting in millions of feet of pipe. They obviously have to have a way to transport this and that is when we're really going to see the activity" said Halleck.

And all the activity is expected to create hundreds of jobs, big payrolls and more tax income.

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