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Commission hears plansfor economic development

Rep. Charles Newton joined Malloy Chandler, chairman of the Butler County Industrial Development Board, at Thursday night's meeting of the Butler County Commission to discuss plans for economic development.

The first issue that Chandler addressed was the status of the first speculative building located in the Butler County Industrial Park.

"The first building is now occupied by Jackson Lumber and Thurman Tool and Mold. The roof and walls are now up on the second building and a copy of the lease has been sent out to two companies and we expect to have the lease signed before the building is finished in approximately three weeks," said Chandler.

The second item Chandler addressed was the purchase of 4.9 acres of land located next to Image Entry in Georgiana for the company to expand the parking lot so that the building also can be expanded. "International Paper owns that property," said Chandler, "and we finally got permission last week to purchase that land. The property will cost less than $15,000 and the BCIDA proposes to buy that land to work something out with Image Entry to let them expand."

The third item addressed by Chandler was an update on the possiblity of a computer company opening a plant in Greenville. "I think we are within 60 days from getting them to commit," said Chandler.

In order for the company to commit, they require 20 acres of land for their facility which will require being cleared and site-prepped. One of the conditions of the company coming to Butler County is that the land must be given to the company for them to develop.

"We have $3 million from grant funding from the state to help us with this project, but it is going to take another $500,000 locally. If the company does come to Butler County, it will produce 500 jobs," said Chandler.

Chandler also asked the commission to consider guaranteeing enough revenue, along with the City of Greenville, to cover the cost of the work that GTE will have to conduct to run looped-fiber optic phone lines into the building for the computer company.

The plant will serve as a computer support center for the company which largest clients include both Microsoft and Compaq.

Commissioner William Phillips was hesistant about spending $500,000 on a new company without a commitment. However, Chandler assured him that "no money would be spent until there was a written commitment."

When Phillips asked if the project could be done for $500,000, Chandler said, "Yes sir. We were able to get $3 million in funding from the state in a bill that Rep. Charles Newton just helped get passed in the House and in the Senate. We are named in the economic development bill for this industry. The state will put up that money and we are required to contribute the $500,000, which is equal to $1,000 per job."

Commission Chairman Gary Hanks also had hesitations concerning spending $500,000 due to the fact that the county is spending $3 million on a new jail. "Our jail is over 70 years old and the whole State of Alabama is in trouble with their prison systems and we are going to have to start shipping people to Louisiana because we don't room for them. These judges in Montgomery are going to start imposing penalties on these counties if we don't build these jails. That's the way it is. We can't afford a lawsuit. If we do all this just for jobs and they don't come, the folks in Montgomery are still going to say you are still going to build that jail."

"The way I see it is we've gone too far not to keep going and bring these jobs to citizens of Butler County and we have to take action to do that," said Commissioner Jesse McWilliams. "We have people working very hard to get jobs here and this is a perfect opportunity."

"We need jobs that are going to pay more than minimum wage," said Commissioner Daniel Robinson.

Margaret McElroy, a representative of PALS, was asked by the commission to come to the workshop to speak.

"PALS was adopted in 1986 and its first major program was Adopt-A-Mile. Since then, we have now a clean campus program, an adopt-a-stream program and a coastal clean-up," said McElroy.

McElroy was requested to come to the meeting because of local interest in Adopt-A-Mile. The commission, however, was concerned about liability that would be placed on the county if there was an accident while a volunteer was picking up trash as part of the program.

However, McElroy said that a form must be signed by each participant that would release the county, the state and the Alabama Department of Transportation from any liability.

In other news, Boyd Foster offered to sell the land adjacent to the jail to the county for $4,000. The commission agreed that there was no need for more land.

Also on the agenda at Thursday night's meeting:

Wendell Phelps approached the commission with concerns over a county road that has been left unkept;

Charles Smith, representing the McKenzie Recreation Department, requested money to replace lights at the softball field;

Bob Luman, the Emergency Management Assistance director, submitted funding for the new fiscal year.$500,000, Chandler said, "Yes sir. We were able to get $3 million in funding from the state in a bill that Rep. Charles Newton just helped get passed in the House and in the Senate. We are named in the economic development bill for this industry. The state will put up that money and we are required to contribute the $500,000, which is equal to $1,000 per job."

Commission Chairman Gary Hanks also had hesitations concerning spending $500,000 due to the fact that the county is spending $3 million on a new jail. "Our jail is over 70 years old and the whole State of Alabama is in trouble with their prison systems and we are going to have to start shipping people to Louisiana because we don't room for them. These judges in Montgomery are going to start imposing penalties on these counties if we don't build these jails. That's the way it is. We can't afford a lawsuit. If we do all this just for jobs and they don't come, the folks in Montgomery are still going to say you are still going to build that jail."

"The way I see it is we've gone too far not to keep going and bring these jobs to citizens of Butler County and we have to take action to do that," said Commissioner Jesse McWilliams. "We have people working very hard to get jobs here and this is a perfect opportunity."

"We need jobs that are going to pay more than minimum wage," said Commissioner Daniel Robinson.

Margaret McElroy, a representative of PALS, was asked by the commission to come to the workshop to speak.

"PALS was adopted in 1986 and its first major program was Adopt-A-Mile. Since then, we have now a clean campus program, an adopt-a-stream program and a coastal clean-up," said McElroy.

McElroy was requested to come to the meeting because of local interest in Adopt-A-Mile. The commission, however, was concerned about liability that would be placed on the county if there was an accident while a volunteer was picking up trash as part of the program.

However, McElroy said that a form must be signed by each participant that would release the county, the state and the Alabama Department of Transportation from any liability.

In other news, Boyd Foster offered to sell the land adjacent to the jail to the county for $4,000. The commission agreed that there was no need for more land.

Also on the agenda at Thursday night's meeting:

Wendell Phelps approached the commission with concerns over a county road that has been left unkept;

Charles Smith, representing the McKenzie Recreation Department, requested money to replace lights at the softball field;

Bob Luman, the Emergency Management Assistance director, submitted funding for the new fiscal year.