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Owens Corning to restart production at Eloy facility
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ELOY — Owens Corning has announced plans to restart production at its insulation manufacturing plant in Eloy that has been closed for more than 10 years.

The 42,500-square-foot facility at Eloy Industrial Park is expected to be fully operational in the first quarter of 2022 and will bring more than 50 jobs to the area in a wide range of categories, the company said in a press release.

Owens Corning manufactures insulation, roofing and fiberglass composite materials. The Eloy facility will produce fiberglass insulation for building applications.

“I’m thrilled by this announcement, which will provide great jobs for our residents just as the city of Eloy and Pinal County are experiencing a significant increase in new home starts and an influx of new investment,” Eloy Mayor Micah Powell said. “Owens Corning has been a part of the Eloy industrial landscape for many years and this announcement comes at a time when our economic development efforts are starting to yield results.”

The slumping national housing market led to the closure of the facility in 2010 with the loss at the time of 40 jobs. The central Arizona plant had operated for 15 years.

The company also closed other operations due to the slow economy at the time because of the housing recession.

“This project is an excellent rural economic development win for the city of Eloy and Arizona,” said Sandra Watson, president and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority. “We are grateful to Owens Corning for choosing to reopen the Eloy site for their advanced manufacturing, which will provide quality jobs for local residents, and we look forward to supporting Owens Corning in their future success in the state.”

The city of Eloy worked closely with the Arizona Commerce Authority and Pinal County throughout the site evaluation process. Harvey Krauss, Eloy city manager, said, “The coordination and cooperation between these three entities was critical to this project.”

The facility in Eloy expands Owens Corning’s capacity to service the West Coast.

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Eloy's Civil Air Patrol unit aims to build tomorrow's leaders
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ELOY — Civil Air Patrol Squadron 131 was established in Eloy in 2018. With the vision of being an outlet for the young people of Eloy, as well as helping to build tomorrow’s leaders, CAP offers plenty of programs and classes on the topics of aerospace and astronomy.

Squadron Cmdr. Kevin Rattey is a retired member of the Air Force. He decided to get involved with CAP and was instrumental in making it what it is today locally.

“I was working as a volunteer at the Eloy Junior High. Then I found out that the Civil Air Patrol was very much in line with what we were doing at the school,” Rattey said. “So I applied to see if they determined that it was feasible to put a squadron down here.”

One of the big supporters of the squadron is Eloy Elementary School District Superintendent Ruby James. Rattey says that James has played a vital role in providing whatever Rattey needed for the squadron.

“She was instrumental, she really guided us because we needed facilities and support, so she really took it to heart,” Rattey said. “She helped us get into the building we are in now. She got us the educational materials we needed. The squadron would not exist without Ruby.”

Flying a plane, sort of

ELOY — I never thought I would ever be behind the controls of an airplane and be able to fly it, but now I can say that that has been accomplished. Well, in a way.

CAP offers opportunities such as classes in the aviation field, flight simulators for cadets to test and leadership opportunities for young people in Eloy.

The squadron also shows kids in Eloy what else is out there and available to them, exposing them to a whole new world that may have not been seen before.

“Giving these cadets an opportunity to move on, they can see what opportunities are out there in the aerospace world, and the careers that are there could interest them,” Rattey said. “It also introduces them to the kind of scholarships that are available. They should not be limited to demographics or economics. There are a lot of opportunities out there for them.”

Rattey sees the cadets’ success as his success and is happy to help in any capacity that he can.

“The Civil Air Patrol can create leaders of tomorrow, and I think we can help shape someone’s life for the better,” Rattey said. “If we can help someone move on to better careers and a better future, that is rewarding for me. It is not a monetary reward by any means, but it is one of those things where your efforts are going to pay off down the road. It might be 10 or 20 years before we see the result, but to see the young people blossom and become very confident — to see the changes in these young people is just amazing.”

CAP is open to ages 12-18 who are looking to find new ideas for careers that could shape their lives as adults.

Flying a plane, sort of

ELOY — I never thought I would ever be behind the controls of an airplane and be able to fly it, but now I can say that that has been accomplished. Well, in a way.

Recently, I visited the Civil Air Patrol building in Eloy. The CAP is a program for kids ages 12-18, and offers opportunities and experiences in Aviation, Air Force, Astronomy and of course, the chance to fly in a flight simulator and see what it is like to be in control of a plane.

The building’s main room has about 10 different simulator stations; Kevin Rattey is the commander of the squadron. He asked if I would like to try my hand at flying in a simulator. I cautiously said yes, hoping to not embarrass myself in front of an Air Force veteran.

The simulator was very engaging and detailed with screens on your left and right, with the center screen being your cockpit. I flew a standard fighter jet, with the simulator showing a detailed location of the Phoenix area, with Camelback mountain in view from a virtual cockpit.

I gave the plane a bit of throttle and it started moving quickly down the runway. Everything was going smoothly until I realized the plane was drifting to the right just a bit. I quickly pushed on the left pedal to counteract my trajectory, but my strong touch on the pedal now had me curving too far to the left.

With my stress, and the feeling of regretting this invitation building, I pulled up on the stick to try to get some air under my wings. With the simulator sirens screaming at me, I continued to pull up on the stick and was finally in the air and flying, narrowly missing an airplane hanger on my ascent.

Once I was safely flying at about 10,000 feet, I made the observation that the flying part was easy, but getting in the air was the difficult part.

I did not get a chance to attempt to land the plane that I had barely gotten off the ground. But I considered that a good thing given the difficult time I had getting the plane airborne.

The flight simulator is a very fun experience. Any child who has an interest in aviation should use a program like CAP to their advantage and learn all that they can.

As for me, however, I think I will be keeping my feet on the ground for the time being.