September 29, 2010 Edition

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Intermodal Authority
hears updates, request

Walnut Ridge Mayor Michelle Rogers and Hoxie Mayor Donnie Roberts discuss plans for recruiting Integrated Renewable Resources LLC at the Intermodal Authority meeting held on Thursday in Hoxie. The railroad tie and wood pellet plant is considering locating in the Walnut Ridge/Hoxie area and could bring up to 120 industrial jobs to the area.
Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

The Northeast Arkansas Regional Intermodal Facilities Authority met at the Hoxie Service Center Thursday morning. Members received updates on plans for locating a railroad tie and pellet plant in Lawrence County and heard from a Black Rock business that is interested in receiving help to expand its facilities and hire more people.

Geological and topographical reports, a 10 percent railroad plan and environmental impact findings have yet to be completed on a site being considered for Integrated Renewable Resources LLC in Lawrence County. The site is located on the boundary line between Walnut Ridge and Hoxie, and the plant would employ up to 120 people if it locates here.

The site under consideration is currently covered in rice crops.

"We hope to have the railroad plan completed by next month," said Jerry Kelso, engineer with Crafton, Tull and Sparks, the engineering firm hired by the Authority. "We are waiting on the rice to be harvested so all testing can be conducted; hopefully, the assessment will be ready by Dec. 27."

Final preliminary plans should be completed by March 25, 2011.

A second business, which would employ five to 10 people, is also interested in locating near the site if IRR is successful in gaining railroad access. The business would like to build a four-million-bushel facility and would transport corn to Mexico. Railroad access is crucial to the company locating here.

Ashley Eagan, office manager for Eagan Manufacturing in Black Rock, told the Authority that his company has been approached by one of their customers who wants to switch all their business to Eagan. This would require Eagan to construct a new building at an estimated price of $200,000.

Eagan manufactures utility doors, steel doors, storage lockers and vertical siding windows for mobile homes and poultry houses. They currently employ 36 people, and the added business would create 15 to 18 new jobs.

"We're maxed out on room in our buildings now," Eagan said. " We do have room on our property for a new building but would like to see what help we might get in constructing the building."

"We are meeting with the company next week, and they want to move on the building pretty quickly," Eagan added.

No immediate action was taken.

Also during the meeting, volunteers from each member of the Authority were asked to attend October city council and quorum court meetings in their areas, a requirement for the Authority. Cities and counties are currently in the process of planning their budgets, and the Authority members need to bring them up to date on progress made and upcoming projects.

Don King and John Allen of Hoxie and Milton Smith and Terry Lambert of Walnut Ridge volunteered to cover the meetings in Lawrence County.

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