In the autumn of 1955, Dragon Cement Company added a fourth kiln to its existing batters at Northampton, increasing the plant’s clinker production to better than 2,400,000 barrels a year. All four kilns were identical in size – 314 feet long by 9 feet in diameter. Atlas Cement Company Memorial Museum exhibits the dedication plaques.
Safety has always been a priority at our cement plants. In 1957, safety awards were presented to Dragon for 1,106 accident-free days. Awards were accepted by Frank Piescienski, Northampton Borough Councilman Keith Piescienski’s father; Herman Dreisbach; Paul Gergel; and August Serensits. The awards came from Portland Cement Association.
The cement companies also were active in the community. The Dragon received an achievement award at the Americus Hotel in Allentown March 27, 1957. Northampton Lions Club made the presentation. The presenter was the Rev. Albert Billy. Do our older readers remember when he was the popular pastor of Holy Trinity Slovak Church in Northampton? Highly respected in the community, he served as a chaplain in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He was president of the Lions Club. William Barron, plant superintendent, accepted the plaque.
The Dragon constructed baseball diamonds on its property at 24th and Main streets and on another lot at 25th and Main to be used by borough youngsters. The fields continue serving the community.
Barron made some meaningful comments, saying, “God gave our children what seems to be an unlimited amount of energy. It is our responsibility to channel this energy in the right way.”
The neighboring Universal Atlas Cement Company gave its old bag factory to the borough. The site is now Northampton Banquet and Event Center. Also, the land for the borough swimming pool, Municipal Park and the middle and high schools was also Atlas property.
The Coplay Cement Manufacturing Company and the old Whitehall Cement, now Lafarge, have also donated land to their communities.
When heavy snows blanketed the borough in 1958, transportation came to a standstill. Dragon stepped forward with earth-clearing equipment and manpower to assist in snow removal.
Volunteer firemen from both the Northampton plant and Alliance Sand Company remained on call at fire stations while crews of men driving bulldozers and payloaders opened roads so farmers could deliver milk to dairies and food, medical supplies and fuel could be supplied to rural areas.
In those years, the cement companies had much better equipment than many boroughs, and they were always ready to help.
In two weeks, we will have more Dragon memories.