Details being studied on industry road bid

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, July 10, 2002

Some funding questions must be answered before the city canaward a contract to build a road to service a new industry in theIndustrial Park, officials said Tuesday.

Engineers opened bids Tuesday on a road project for EPCO, acarbon dioxide processing plant that has been in operation severalmonths on Fender Trail. With a $105,634 bid, Kevin ColemanConstruction Company of Wesson was the lower of two bids received,said Jeff Green, the engineer working on the project.

“I’ve got to talk to the city about funding and see where weare,” Green said.

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The city has received a $137,000 Small Municipalities Grant toassist with road and water and sewer needs for the plant. Water andsewer services are in place and an unpaved road has been built forthe industry.

Green said the city’s costs for the water and sewer servicesmust be determined before the road paving contract can be awarded.The engineer has asked to be on the Aug. 6 city board meetingagenda to discuss the situation.

Chandler Russ, executive vice-president of theBrookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce, said the grant isawarded on a reimbursement basis, meaning the city pays for workand is then paid back from grant funds. Russ said the SmallMunicipalities Grant, which requires no local match, is one of thebest programs resulting from the Advantage Mississippi Initiativepassed during a 2001 legislative special session.

Russ touted full cooperation between the city and chamber on theEPCO project.

“The company is anxious to get the hard surface road in there,”Russ said. “We’re working with the city and engineers to make thathappen as quickly as possible.”

EPCO began construction of its Brookhaven plant last year andwent into operation several months ago. Grady Collins,vice-president of operations, expressed some concerns about thelength of time needed to get the hard-surface road, but he was gladto see the project moving forward.

“EPCO is pleased that’s going to happen,” Collins said.

Russ said Brookhaven was among the first to apply for a SmallMunicipalities Grant. He mentioned the program’s newness andlearning the grant process as reasons for the grant work movingmore slowly than hoped.

The EPCO plant converts gas carbon dioxide into liquid carbondioxide, which is used in food processing and other areas. Thelocal operation involves extensive trucking, and Collins cited thatas a reason the new road is needed.

“It’s critical we get the hard surface road because of theamount of traffic,” Collins said.

Following an initial approximately $11 million investment, Russsaid EPCO is in the process of a $1 million expansion.

Collins said a prefabricated building, which will serve as aterminal building, arrived Tuesday night. The company, which has 11plants in the South and Midwest and corporate offices north ofMonroe, La., expects to have the terminal in operation bymid-August, he said.

“We’re transferring the bulk of our operations from Louisiana toBrookhaven,” Collins said.

Collins said Brookhaven was a good market and had an ideallocation on a carbon dioxide pipeline. Following the expansion,Collins said the Brookhaven plant will have about 35 employees,most of whom will be involved in trucking aspects of thebusiness.

EPCO is not the only industry planned for the Fender Trailspot.

Russ said Continental Carbonics is expected to startconstruction within 15-18 months on a plant near EPCO. ContinentalCarbonics will take the liquid carbon dioxide and convert it intodry ice, which is used in a variety of grocery distribution andshipping applications.

While also looking forward to Continental Carbonics, Russ saidEPCO is a good company that is bringing good-paying jobs toBrookhaven.

“We’re happy to have them,” Russ said.