Blowing smoke: Vollworth’s smokestacks accused of causing damage

Kali Katerberg/Daily Mining Gazette Shown is the front of the Vollworth building in Hancock. Vollworth’s was recently accused of spewing toxic smoke from their factory towards nearby businesses and homes during a Hancock city council meeting.

HANCOCK – Business owner Mark Mountz claimed smoke from nearby Vollwerth’s factory was damaging his health in a statement before the city council Wednesday.

Vollwerth’s is a long time Hancock business that sells hot dogs, brats and sausages. Mountz owns nearby General Glass Inc. and has a home east of his store but says smoke from Vollwerth’s smoker is making it impossible for him to breath comfortably and causes bad headaches. “I’ve been complaining about it for approximately five years… I try to work around it, but I can’t work outside, can’t have the windows or the doors open,” Mountz said.

Mountz would like to see the council help Vollwerth’s improve the issue through funding or some other method. Mountz’s objections come after a half a million dollar grant was used to hire 15 new employees.

“Our business and the smoke stacks have been there for 80 years and our family business has been operating for over a hundred years. There is no more smoke coming out of the stacks today then there was 80 years ago,” said Vollwerth’s President Adam Manderfield in a response.

“We are happy for discussion to make changes to our process, to our facility…It’s a shame. We should be working together as businesses, not against each other,” Manderfield said.

Mountz says he has attempted to work with Vollwerth’s, the council and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to no avail. In a letter to the council Mountz said a DEQ representative had told him Vollwerth’s smokestack should be 15 feet higher or more. However, no tests have been taken to prove a violation and the council took no action at the meeting.

“They are more interested in protecting bugs and trees from people than they are in protecting the health of people who are being harmed,” Mountz said.