Intel to change Johnstown forever


By Kay Conklin

Contributing columnist

The first time I saw the words “Intel” and “Johnstown” in the same sentence in the newspaper, I wondered what was going on. I know lots about Johnstown, but what does this word “Intel” mean? I thought it might be an abbreviation of the word “Intelligence.” However, when the word “Johnstown” pops up, I think of the fact that my parents were born there and that my mother lived there until she married my dad and moved away. However, her siblings stayed, so we visited there often. A very quick scan of said article told me that Johnstown was going to have 1,000 acres of their land be a part of “a $20 billion computer chip manufacturing facility.” Reading that type of business made me think about the large number of people who would be moving into the area to work there. With all of that going on, my first thought was of the many children who would be coming and adding to the schools in the Johnstown system. Ever since reading that first article, there has been a lot written about what is going on in Johnstown, Ohio.

Since the newspapers kept having more stories, we decided to drive over and see what that area looks like now. Since it will be 2025 before it’s done, it might be interesting to watch it all grow. We knew exactly how to get to Johnstown because of all the trips for family reunions as well as when my mom was in the nursing home there. So, we took off for Sunbury, knowing to take Rt. 37 E. right on into Johnstown. When we stopped at a gas station, we asked how to find Intel. The directions were simple. We were told to go the first stop light, turn right, take that road until you can turn right again, and follow that road until you see it. Following their directions, we drove right to the place that looked just like the pictures of it that had been in the newspaper. The roads we were on that had been just 2 lane roads are now rather messy 3 lane roads. And just that quickly, we found ourselves on a road filled with a mass of huge trucks, both in front of us and behind us, for as far as we could see in either direction. As we first began on this long road, we noticed several large white buildings off to the left. They must be for the huge number of persons who will be working for Intel.

When we thought we had seen enough, we decided to start for home. It seemed unnecessary to turn around and go all the way back the way we came, so we chose to exit when we saw a sign that said “New Albany.” We thought we were going into New Albany. However, there was a roundabout section and we found ourselves on back roads that had no road signs at all.

This is where I got worried about ever getting out of the unmarked countryside. All we had to do was to find Sunbury again, and we would be on our way back home. But Sunbury wasn’t about to be found. At that point I was glad it was still daylight and that we had a full tank of gas. And that the roads were clear and no snow in sight. But there were no road signs anywhere to let us know where we were. I was hoping to find some of those places in the roads that had houses on only one side of the road, with the other side belonging to Intel.

But no luck on that either. A note about those houses on only one side of the road. In tonight’s paper, one of the owners of one of those houses tells how difficult it is at this time to get his house sold. They are concerned as to what future places they will be able to move to. They want to stay close to where they are now. Mostly because of being close to the rest of their family.

After too much time on unmarked country roads, we saw the word that meant we were going the right direction. It was a huge red and black water tower off in the distance with the word “JOHNSTOWN” written on it! What a relief! By heading toward the sign, we had to get in another of those long lines of huge trucks. It didn’t bother me that we had to stop and start every few feet all the way, as long as it lead us toward home. We found ourselves right in the heart of downtown Johnstown again. This time, for just a flash, I got to see the house where my Dad was born back in March of 1900. Before it got dark, we found Rt. 37 and happily headed home.

I’m glad we went. All I know is that Johnstown, Ohio, will never be the same as it was before Intel came to town.

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