Lending a Helping Hand

When Its Hometown Faces Adversity, CEMEX’s Lyons Cement Plant Steps In To Help.

The town of Lyons, Colo., is a classic Colorado mountain town in Boulder County. As a gateway to the Rockies, it is home to just more than 2,100 residents as well as a CEMEX cement plant that supports the local community throughout good times and bad. 

Michael Clausen, the operation’s corporate social responsibilities specialist, said the operation’s support of its hometown has been ongoing for many years and has intensified since 2013 when a devastating flood struck the town. CEMEX, as well as its philanthropic arm, The CEMEX Foundation, stepped in to aid with flood recovery. Seven years later, as the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the tourism industry that spurs the community’s downtown, the foundation provided a $15,000 grant to the Lyons Emergency & Assistance Fund (LEAF). 

Covering Basic Needs

The operation has been a LEAF supporter for a number of years, stepping up its financial donations in 2019 when the organization expanded its services, which include a food pantry, Meals-on-Wheels program, rental assistance, mental health services, wellness services and an addiction program. The operation also provides Thanksgiving turkeys and Christmas hams for distribution through the food pantry. 

“We know it can be difficult over the holidays for people, so it was important for us to support them,” Clausen said. Last December, a team of CEMEX volunteers helped people box up food pantry goods as well as the donated hams. In recognition of its efforts, the plant was named the organization’s Donor of the Year in 2019.

When the community began to feel the effects of the pandemic, Clausen said it was a logical step for the foundation to make a sizable donation specifically for pandemic relief efforts. Throughout the spring, LEAF saw a 700% increase in households that needed basic assistance. The CEMEX Foundation’s grant funded LEAF’s food pantry for a month and its basic needs grant program for three months.

“CEMEX is deeply connected within the Lyons community since we have been involved in the community for decades, and we want to do what we can to help our neighbors,” added Uwe Lubjuhn, plant manager. “The COVID-19 pandemic has created a difficult situation for people in Lyons and across Colorado, and we are proud to be able to support the community while so many are facing hardships.”

Ongoing Outreach

The Lyons operation has shown its community support through numerous channels. It provides financial support to the Lyons Community Foundation as well as the local schools. It is a title sponsor of the elementary school’s annual jog-a-thon fundraiser and partners with the middle school for the 8th grade Habitat class, where it collaborates on an educational project annually. Last year, students studied native bats in the classroom, then built bat boxes and visited the site, which boasts rich biodiversity. After an on-site lesson, a personnel lift was used to place the boxes on some of the cottonwood trees near the site’s fishing pond.

The Lyons plant also has a partnership with the Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, which neighbors the operation. The center cares for injured or displaced wildlife. In addition to the operation’s financial support, it also allows rescued and rehabilitated wildlife to be released on its grounds as a suitable new home for a variety of animals. Recently, a fox that had been hit by a car and nursed back to health returned to the wild at the site. 

In support of its safety focus, the plant participates in a national initiative called Safer Roads Together. In 2019, the operation partnered with USA Cycling to create a criterium race based in Lyons. It also brought in a tanker truck and allowed cyclists to climb into the cab and observe blind spots. “For us, it’s a really high priority that everyone stays safe and that we can be a good neighbor to all these cyclists that are using Highway 66, which runs right by the plant,” Clausen said. 

Garnering Recognition

The operation’s good works are catching the attention of many organizations. In addition to recognition from LEAF, the plant has been recognized for its outreach efforts by the Portland Cement Association. And, it garnered silver-tiered Conservation Certification from the Wildlife Habitat Council for its strong and ongoing commitment to biodiversity and conservation education. As a whole, CEMEX USA was named as U.S. EPA Energy Star Partner of the Year for both 2019 and 2020.

Therese Dunphy has covered the aggregates industry for nearly 30 years, while also serving multiple roles as a public official. As the owner of Stone Age Communications, she provides communications consulting services to help aggregate producers build stronger relationships within the communities they serve. She can be reached at [email protected].

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