Business activity is abounding in Monroe County, with emphasis on oil and gas and a possible $1 billion cracker plant. James Cutler, CEO of Appalachian Resins, said the company will be getting ethane, a bi-product of natural gas drilling, from a pipeline.

A surprise motion was entered in Monroe County Court, as a man scheduled to be sentenced for his connection to a drive-by shooting in the Poconos a year ago this week withdrew his guilty plea. Walking into the courtroom, Brandon Wilson was supposed to be sentenced for his role in the death of a Monroe County man one year ago this week.

Kudos to Wild Well Control for successfully bringing Triad Hunter's blowout at the Stalder 3UH well near Sardis under control in time for the affected residents to return to their homes for Christmas. Special thanks go out to the organizations that supported the well control operation including the Monroe County Emergency Management Agency, Sardis Volunteer Fire Department, Noble County and Belmont County EMA's, and the Sardis VFD Ladies' Auxiliary.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources issued 37 new horizontal drilling permits in the Utica/Point Pleasant shale play for the week ending Dec. 20. Harrison County 13 permits, Chesapeake Exploration eight and American Energy Partners five - all in North and Nottingham Townships. Belmont County had seven permits with three each for Rice Energy and Gulfport Energy and one for American Energy partners in Goshen, Washington and Richland townships.