Board delays action on mill well request

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Brookhaven leaders delayed action Tuesday on a request from thenew operators of the former Columbus Lumber Company to drill awater well for its wood treatment activities.

Great Southern Wood Preserving officials said they needed to putin their own well because of the volume of water that it takes totreat and preserve the wood, but also because at other plantlocations there have been drought issues that could have beencostly or fatal had they not had their own well.

City officials discussed ordinances on businesses having theirown water wells and said they were fairly sure it needed to belooked at closer before GSWP was given permission to proceed. WardFive Alderman D.W. Maxwell said the group needed to talk aboutaquifers as well.

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“But I really don’t believe this is a problem we can’t solve,”said Mayor Les Bumgarner.

In other company-related matters, GSWP in-house attorney ChrisMims told the board that company officials had recently met withthe Lincoln County Board of Supervisors. He said if county and cityleaders can help with some of their requests, they should havepeople working by February.

Mims said there would be 15 employees working for the company inthe first year, but that estimates are conservative because ofeconomic conditions. Positions to be filled would be everythingfrom truck drivers to management to sales, the representativessaid.

“I know you’re interested in having those Columbus Lumber jobsback and keeping those people here,” Mims told the board.

He explained that Great Southern Wood Preserving, which isoperated out of Alabama, has 10 other plants around thecountry.

“We have a hole in Louisiana and Southwest Mississippi, and thatarea matters,” he said. “It matters where you’re moving wood to andfrom. We need a place in Mississippi to move that wood.”

Mims and GSWP representative Bob White said the company wouldstart up with about five trucks, and would grow to 10 before toolong. They said they already have clients in the area that areready to proceed in February.

In addition to the water well matter,

the lumber company also asked the board for several exemptionsand tax incentives that their officials said were routine for newbusinesses. The board said they would also discuss those at thereconvened meeting on Dec. 21.

City Attorney Joe Fernald asked when GSWP officials expected themarket to turn around. White told him they had been hopeful that itwould be sooner rather than later.

“I had thought now,” he said. “Maybe 12 more months.”

GSWP officials said they hoped to have 30 employees within threeyears if things started turning around.

“Our intention is to work with you the best we can, but we haveto live with our decision, and we take that very seriously,”Bumgarner said.

In other board business during last night’s meeting, aldermenvoted to tack an extra $25 on the reconnect fee when people havetheir water service turned back on after hours. The current fee is$25, but aldermen voted to raise it to $50 because meter readersare required to stay on call the day after cutoffs.

Water service is shut off when a bill is delinquent a month and10 days.