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Volunteer seeks photos, stories of Leetonia coke ovens for book

December 13, 2012
Morning Journal News

LEETONIA- Photographs and stories about the village's history are being sought for a history booklet that will be used to help secure grants and raise funds for the Cherry Valley Beehive Coke Ovens restoration project.

Justin Hite, an Americorps VISTA volunteer interning with the village for a year, is developing a comprehensive and accurate history of the village and the Coke Ovens as part of the continuous project to improve the Coke Oven site. He said he is currently working on research and verifying stories, and is encouraging community members to share any stories or photographs.

Hite said he does not need to keep the original photos, explaining that they will be copied and then the owner will fill out a form granting permission for its use in publishing. Anyone with something to share can stop by Village Hall from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday or e-mail

According to Hite, the early history of the village was written in the early 20th century and is big and dense and not reader friendly. He said he hopes to make a more contemporary book that is easily accessible, a good resource for the majority of people in the community.

"We want a nice product, something people will want to read or might want to spend money on to help raise funds for the Coke Ovens," he said.

In addition to raising funds for the restoration project, the book will ultimately be used to assist in securing grant money, Hite explained.

"It should show the rich cultural history of the area," he said. "[Organizations] like to see a little bit about the area that would be getting the money."

The book is likely to be self-published by the village, depending on the final product, Hite said, noting that he hopes to have it completed before the end of February.

Hite arrived in Leetonia last month and is scheduled to remain until Nov. 18, 2013. His main objective is to secure grants to support the master plan presented in May by last year's intern, Marin Braco, which includes full and partial restoration of ovens, multiple ecological habitats and a variety of minerals for walking trails.

For information about the Coke Ovens project visit "Leetonia Beehive Coke Ovens" on Facebook or follow @LeetoniaOvens on Twitter.

Kevin Howell can be reached at



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