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Public, economic officials express concern, optimism

In the wake of Delphi’s weekend bankruptcy filing, Brookhavenand Lincoln County officials today voiced concern about thecompany’s situation and hope for a positive outcome for the localcommunity.

“We were certainly disappointed to hear that and hope it doesn’thave a major effect locally,” Mayor Bob Massengill said.

The Delphi plant on Industrial Park Road, one of three companysites in Mississippi, employs more than 600 people. It produceselectrical and injected molding components for automobiles.

Requests for comments from local plant officials this morningwere directed to Delphi’s corporate offices. Brookhaven-LincolnCounty Chamber of Commerce officials hope to meet with PlantManager Ken Harlan within the next few days to discuss localimplications and expectations, said Cliff Brumfield, chamberexecutive vice president.

“Naturally, there’s great concern about possible temporary joblosses and any long-term impact on our economy,” Brumfield said.”Delphi has been an integral part of the local economy for manyyears.”

Brumfield said many people in southwest Mississippi depend onthe company for their livelihood and retirement.

“We’re anxious to work with Delphi in any way possible tocontinue its strong, positive relationship with theBrookhaven-Lincoln County community,” Brumfield said.

District Two Supervisor Bobby J. Watts, president of the LincolnCounty Board of Supervisors, said any talk of a company possiblyshutting down could have disastrous implications.

“I certainly don’t want that to happen,” said Watts, hoping fora continued strong future for Delphi in Brookhaven. “It’s been herea long time. I hope they can get everything straightened out, pickup and move on.”

For Terry Bates, the news of the bankruptcy filing had a doublemeaning. Bates works on the assembly line at the plant and is alsoalderman of Ward Two for the city.

“As an employee, I hope it works out, and as a city official, Ihope it works out for the community,” Bates said.

Bates, who was out of town over the weekend when the filinghappened, said there had been rumors of the possible bankruptcyfiling in recent weeks. He said Delphi employs a lot of people andis a strong part of the community.

“We’ve just got to hope everything will be all right withDelphi, they get things straightened out and we have a job,” Batessaid.

In the filing, the Brookhaven Water Department was listed as acreditor.

City Attorney Joe Fernald, however, said the listing was commonwhen identifying a company’s debts. The court document did not listthe amount owed.

“It would be whatever the water bill is for that month,” saidFernald.

Despite the city’s listing in the filing, Fernald expectedwater-related services and activities to be unchanged as Delphiworks through the bankruptcy proceeding.

“Problems they have are more far-reaching than the Brookhavenwater bill,” Fernald said.

Fernald said he was on the chamber’s board of directors whenDelphi located here in the mid-1970s. Like other officials, theattorney said his main concern is that Delphi remains viable andcontinues to be an asset to the community.

“We’ve had a very good relationship with Delphi throughout theyears and hopefully they will come out of this OK,” Fernaldsaid.