March 31, 2010 Edition

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Company considering
locating in LawCo.

Hoxie Mayor Donnie Roberts (from left), Arkansas State Highway Department Engineer Cliff McKinney, Linda Collins Smith of Pocahontas and Jerry Kelso, engineer with Crafton Tull Sparks Engineering Company, visit at the Northeast Arkansas Intermodal Facilities Authority meeting on Thursday.
TD Photo ~ Gloria Wilkerson
Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

The Northeast Arkansas Intermodal Facilities Authority met Thursday at Williams Baptist College with representatives present from each member entity as well as one each from Sen. Blanche Lincoln and Sen. Mark Pryor's offices.

Chairman Wayne Gearhart told the group that a meeting was held with representatives of a company that may locate here, bringing 100 jobs to this area.

"It will be a large undertaking," he said. "The company is looking at acreage near the intersection of the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Sante Fe railroads in Hoxie."

Gearhart said the company does not plan to buy the land but wants to lease it from the Authority.

Jerry Kelso, an engineer with Crafton Tull Sparks, said his firm is looking at areas where road access can be built, as well as rail access lines and utilities. He said he hopes to have a correct estimate of these costs within a month.

"This looks like a great opportunity for us," Gearhart said.

He added that rail access is key for this business and is one of the few remaining hurdles before an agreement can be reached.

A special meeting has been set with a short line railroad company for April 13 to discuss issues in operating a railroad service for the region. Gearhart said they will discuss railroad marketing and how complex and important it is for the Authority. The Authority will need to build its own short line railroad or pay to use one owned by a railroad company.

He also told the group a meeting has been set with the Little Rock Port Authority for April 7 at 11 a.m. and encouraged everyone to attend.

"We need to learn how they operate their Authority, and we hope to partner with them on any water operations we may have," Gearhart said.

"We also need to discuss their opertions and arrangements with the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Railroads," he said. "We need to learn how the Little Rock Authority operates the local railroad they own."

Gearhart told the group they are looking at some high dollar decisions coming down the road, and they need to be well informed to avoid pitfalls before those decisions are made.

Bylaws for the Authority call for an election of officers each year, and the elections will be held at their next meeting.

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