On a gray April day, John Golomb, 65, looks about what was already the Wheeling-Pittsburgh animate branch in Monessen, Pennsylvania. It is now a recycling branch alleged Alumisource.
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Wearing his old, now frayed, bang boiler afire jacket, memories abounding back.
“I’ve had this for, my gosh, three-and-a-half decades or more, it’s beat out but I’m actual appreciative that I managed to save it,” he said, his articulation breaking. “It’s all I accept left, that’s it, that’s all I accept left.”
Watch the abounding adventure on ABC News’ “Nightline” tonight at 12:35 a.m. ET.
Golomb was a steelworker for 35 years. The comminute was the jewel of Monessen, employing over 2,000 workers.
Workers actuality blow that the animate from this comminute congenital the Golden Gate Bridge. In this baby boondocks about 30 afar south of Pittsburgh, the comminute fueled the economy: malls, banks, alike the already comfortable Grand Hotel.
“This was declared to be the approaching of our valley. In 1980, they promised that this would be the beginning. Anybody had aerial hopes, everyone,” Golomb said. “That was my way of life, I accurate my baby children, proudly! Actual proudly. I was appreciative to be a Pittsburgh steelworker. I still am.”
But in 1986, amidst the collapse of the animate industry, the comminute closed, catastrophe 80 years of animate production. Golomb, like endless others, absent their jobs. Soon Monessen began to abatement into blight, businesses left, barrio were abandoned.
“Just in the bulk of a mile and a bisected you had 13,000 additional addition 10,000, had 24, 25,000 steelworker jobs absent aloof from this basin appropriate here,” said Lou Mavrakis, the above ambassador of this town. “What a shame, what it is now and what it acclimated to be and that’s what upsets me.”
But in June 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump came to Monessen, speaking to workers at Alumisource. He accepted the animate industry, able that, beneath his administration, it would acknowledgment to its above glory.
Golomb, a constant Democrat, said he heard that accent and acquainted article that he hadn’t acquainted in a connected time: hope.
“I voted Republican because Donald Trump took his time to appear to Monessen, and what he said is what I capital to hear,” he said.
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Westmoreland County, which includes Monessen, is one of Pennslyvania’s Democratic strongholds. But in November 2016, it went red for Trump.
“I accept he does affliction about America’s average chic and the poor,” Golomb said. “He does appetite to strengthen what should be the courage of the United States.”
Trump’s affiance to Monessen echoes that of abounding others on the attack balloon — promises of jobs and bringing industries aback to U.S. But in the year since, that achievement activity would get better, at atomic here, is fading.
In 1973, the United States produced 151 actor bags of raw steel. By 2015, that had collapsed to about 87 million. Automation led to beneath charge for American workers. Now, the U.S. is the cardinal one importer of animate worldwide.
“Am I angry? Hell yes, I’m angry. I’m pissed off. And I accept acumen to be,” Mavrakis said. “I’m 79 years old. I don’t accept connected to live. I’d like to see article appear to the association that I grew up in.”
Mavrakis, who was a steelworker abutment rep afore actuality mayor, said Trump’s vow to accompany animate aback is annihilation added than a politician’s alone promise.
“It’s absurd for him to accompany aback the animate industry to that bulk anytime again. No, I won’t happen,” Mavrakis said. “You can aftermath the aforementioned bulk of animate now with 400 employees. It’s absurd for them to accompany them back.”
The once-booming boondocks is now abounding with alone and aged buildings. Now, a bank, a bloom abundance and a doctor’s appointment are aloof some of the alone spaces larboard behind.
Mavrakis was voted out of appointment this accomplished November, but was alive to accompany the medical aggregation Best International to boondocks in hopes it will accompany in a much-needed arrival of cash.
“We’re accepting some things done,” he said. “And if we don’t, again I did all this for annihilation but at atomic I approved and I’m activity to accumulate aggravating until I’m out of appointment or I die, one or the other, whichever comes first.”
For those still aggravating to accomplish a activity here, association like Sheldon Davis, 31, who was built-in and aloft in Monessen, are accepting a adamantine time.
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“Old Monessen of my adolescence was great,” Davis told ABC News’ Gloria Riviera. “It was fun times. A lot of things to do as a kid growing up aback I got in my adolescence that started dwelling. And now that I’m beforehand and I’m still actuality it’s annihilation like the old Monessen as it acclimated to be.”
Davis’ great-grandfather formed in the mill, but now this affiliated ancestor of three is disturbing to acquisition full-time work.
“It’s challenging,” he said. “We accept the trash, Alumisource place, and those are apparently the better businesses here, and it’s apparently adamantine to get in there.”
Other than Alumnisource, Dollar General and Subway are as abutting as it gets to big businesses in this town. But Davis, who voted for Hillary Clinton, is still hopeful that Trump will be accurate to his chat and believes the boondocks still has the adventitious to accomplish revenue.
“You’ve got to accord anybody a chance,” he said “All a man has is his word. So the alone affair I could do is achievement that his chat is what he says it is.”
As the president’s aboriginal State of the Abutment approaches, Davis hopes that Trump will “elaborate on the baby towns” he visited on the attack aisle and explain “if he still has affairs on bringing the jobs here.”
Like Davis, Golomb worries about his family’s future. He has three kids, including his 21-year-old daughter, Jocelyn. Eight months ago, Golomb said he would vote for anyone who promised to accompany animate back.
“What accept I got to lose,” he said. “Everything is gone.”
With Trump in the White House, his Monessen supporters took affection aback he appear an analysis into animate imports costing American jobs and impacting civic security. But annihilation afflicted here. There were no new animate jobs created.
Today, Golomb has had a change of heart.
“[Trump] has done annihilation to try to save the American animate industry … and nothing, annihilation has appear to fruition,” he said. “I’m aghast in my vote. It’s about to the point area I do affliction [it].”
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“What absolutely hurts me, he continued, is aback he comes up on the belvedere and he’ll accomplish a statement: ‘I’m the admiral and they’re are not.’ Is this as if it was annihilation but a bold to him…. I’m aloof disgusted with his demeanor.”
Jocelyn Golomb, unsurprisingly, was acquisitive to admonish her ancestor of her beforehand warnings.
“I say it all the time, I told you so,” she said. I’m like he’ll alpha accusatory and I’ll say able-bodied you voted for him. I apperceive like you apprehend your aberration but it’s too backward to apprehend your mistake. You should accept to me.”
When asked if he and the boondocks were acclimated as a political tool, Golomb sighed.
“I chose to be absent to it. I capital to accept aboveboard in the man as a man of account and dignity,” he said. “But in this accomplished year, it’s annihilation but complete disappointment and chaos.”
Meanwhile, Mavrakis is not so surprised. He still knows the industry will never be as it was but he still has a bulletin for the president. “I would acquaint him it was communities like Monessen that congenital this country. You won your acclamation because of the Rust Belt. Now appearance these bodies that you beggarly what you said.”
For him, acceptance hasn’t larboard yet.
“I am still hopeful, I beggarly what am I activity to do, acquaint him, ‘Don’t appear here, I’m mad at you’? Please appear here!” he said. “I beg you appear here. Advice the community.”
He’s no best the town’s ambassador but still is complex with the city; he’s the administrator of the town’s redevelopment ascendancy and said awakening cannot appear with the federal government’s help.
“Make me your affiche child, accord me $25 million,” he said. “Give somebody in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan … booty the account before, booty the after, accomplish me a affiche child. See we can do with these communities that congenital this country.”
ABC News’ David Fazekas and Angel Canales contributed to this report.
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