to sell 110 acres for new facility
Drug dog inspection held at Livingston Academy
Hydroponics facility coming to Overton
Fake $50 bill passed in Overton County
County to sell 110 acres for new facility
By DEWAIN E. PEEK, OCN staff
About 300 new jobs may be created in Overton County after action
taken by Overton County Legislative Body during the regular monthly
meeting held Monday, Feb. 12.
The County Commission approved the sale of 110 acres
to Project Green for $400,000, with the option to purchase up to
11 additional acres at $5,000 per acre.
The sale was recommended by the Industrial Development
Committee, the Planning Committee, and the Budget Committee.
Overton County initially purchased 165-acres for a
new industrial park in 2001. Adequate water and sewer service for
industry is expected to be in place by June 30, according to Ray
Evans of Overton County Economic Development.
"What that immediately did was to put that site
on the radar screen as a competitive site for industrial development,
whereas before you had a lot of lookers, a lot of folks that would
have been interested and would like to have been located there if
the water and sewer had been available," Evans told the commissioners.
He said the site has good qualities, such as being
located near Highway 111, but he said some characteristics of the
land hinder development.
"There's a couple of large sinkholes," Evans
said. "There's a very large wetlands area that is behind Ragland
Hydroserre Tennessee LLC will grow lettuce and other
greens using a unique water-based, instead of soil-based, growing
technique. The hydroponics facility will include a 2 million square-foot
greenhouse area and 80,000 square-feet of production area. The company
expects to hire in phases up to 290 people over the next three years.
Margaret Grissom, site selection consultant for the
company, said, "I understand also that there is a concern about
hiring illegal aliens. And I don't know where that's coming from,
but I would rather just get it out in the open and touch on it.
None of the companies involved in this project have ever had any
issues of hiring illegal aliens."
She said the company's intention is to hire local
people, and the wages are to range from $9 to $18 an hour, based
on the skill level. Benefits such as medical, dental, and 401k will
also be included.
"This company isn't the type that's going to
go out and hire illegal aliens," Grissom said.
Martin Desrochers, president of HydroSerre Mirabel
Inc., one of the parent companies, addressed the County Commission.
Desrochers, of Quebec, Canada, said his family has
been in the business for 20 years.
He said, "This is a clean product, no herbicide,
no fungicide. It's an environmentally friendly product."
He said his company sells 15 million heads of lettuce
per year, at a price ranging from $1.79 to $2.49 per head. Because
the lettuce is grown indoors, the produce is grown and sold year
"The purpose for us here is to grow product and
sell it all up the east coast," Desrochers said.
He told the commissioners that construction will start
in the spring and take approximately nine months to build. The lettuce
takes about 55 days to mature, so hiring should begin in November
in order for the plant to be operational by next January.
Water used in the facility will be recycled.
Before the vote was taken, Commissioner Gregg Nivens
said, "This sounds like a good idea folks, it really does."
Then he passed out information about local factories
and how many jobs they provide per acre, which showed the current
average as 14 jobs per acre and the hydroponics facility supplying
only 2 jobs per acre.
"First of all, I'd really like to have a public
meeting," Commissioner Nivens said.
Commissioner Johnie Webb said, "I think the county
elected us to do their business. If we're not capable of doing it,
we ought to resign."
Commissioner Nivens continued, saying, "What
I'm concerned about is it's an agricultural business, and we're
putting it in an industrial park."
According to his handout, greenhouses qualify as exempt
tangible personal property and are taxed at a much lower rate than
Commissioner Nivens' other concern was for the amount
of the industrial park property that will be used.
"We're fixing to utilize 73% of our industrial
plan on this one company," he said.
Commissioner Randall Boswell spoke up to say he had
not received any negative feedback about the new facility.
Commissioner Rick Moles said people had told him the
deal sounded like a good idea, but that they would like to hear
from the company in a public forum.
Commissioner Billie G. Phipps said he had received
only one negative comment about the facility, and expressed concern
that future generations will not have anywhere to work in Overton
County if action is not taken when the opportunity arises.
The sale was approved with Commissioners Boswell,
Moles, Phipps, Webb, Alan Atnip, Stanley Carter Jr., Darwin Clark,
Ben Danner, Jean Moore, Billy Parrott, Cindy Robbins, Chris Speck,
and Jeff Staggs voting yes. Commissioners Nivens and Bruce Ledford
Commissioner Ledford indicated he changed his mind
about going forward with the deal after seeing the numbers presented
during the meeting.
After the deal was approved, Desrochers said the company
plans to hold an informational conference for the public in March.
A capital outlay note and resolution were approved
for infrastructure development of the Highway 111 Industrial Park
for $1,250,000, which is to be repaid by the State of Tennessee.
A resolution was adopted for reconstruction of Oak
Hill Road under the provisions of the Industrial Highway Act of
1959. Access to the hydroponics facility will be from Oak Hill Road.
The commissioners voted unanimously to increase part-time
EMTs and paramedics $2 per hour, on a 6-month trial basis, as recommended
by the Public Safety Committee and the Budget Committee.
Commissioner Nivens said, "We're going to come
back in six months, and if it doesn't cut back on the overtime then
it will drop back down and we'll reevaluate it."
The County Commission approved increasing the Trustee
bond from $634,908 to $724,000 due to the increase in handling more
The county quarterly report was approved, as recommended
by the Budget Committee. Overton County School System's quarterly
report was approved, as recommended by the Education Committee.
The County Commission approved a plan of operation
for the Operational Safety and Health Program for the employees
of Overton County, as recommended by the Public Safety Committee.
The following were approved as notaries at-large:
Richard B. Evans, Tony Walker, Denny Spears, Sheryl Beaty, Lisa
Hoover, Vicki Kontour, Amanda Windle, Rick Savage, and Chrissy Cantrell.
The meeting adjourned.
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dog inspection held at Livingston Academy
photos by Carson Oliver/OCN
Officers Chase Mathis and James Harris of the Cookeville Police
Deparment K-9 division watch as K-9 Kilo, a malawa breed, checks
A random police lockdown was held at Livingston Academy
on Friday, Feb. 9.
The school administration was contacted about the
lockdown at 10:08 a.m. and the procedures began at 10:11 a.m. when
police arrived at the school.
A school lockdown is a practice procedure used to
place all students, faculty, and staff in safe, secure rooms that
are locked to prevent entry from outside. These random lockdowns,
like fire drills, are practiced to ensure that everyone knows how
to react in an emergency.
Livingston Police Department, along with Cookeville
Police Department's K-9 division and Kingston Police Department's
K-9 division, conducted a random drug inspection of student lockers
and the parking lots. Six dogs and 12 officers participated in the
Livingston Academy's administration reported that
all rooms and doors, inside and out, were secured and locked in
No drugs or paraphernalia were reported found in the
school or parking lot.
Livingston Police Chief Roger Phillips and other officers
expressed praise for the students and faculty of Livingston Academy.
"If we have one person using drugs in Overton
County, we have a drug problem," Chief Phillips said. "But
it is great to see our school system working with law enforcement
to try to control it."
The Livingston Academy administration and Director
of Schools Mike Gilpatrick also complimented both the faculty and
the students for their response to the practice situation and drug
LA Principal Gary Ledbetter said, "High school
students are a reflection of our community. The majority of our
young men and women care, and procedures and practices like this
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facility coming to Overton
Hydroserre Tennessee LLC has selected Overton County,
Tennessee as its "site of choice" to build a new production
facility. Using hydroponic technology, the company will grow "Clean
and Natural" lettuces and greens within a controlled atmosphere.
Hydroserre Tennessee will invest in excess of $40
million into the community and provide nearly 300 jobs, according
to the company.
Martin Desrochers, president of HydroSerre Mirabel
Inc., said, "Overton County provides an optimal location for
this facility, since it is close to the Eastern corridor and allows
us access to key target customers in the region.
"In addition, we are optimistic about the job
opportunities that we can offer the residents of this community.
Growing plants in water instead of soil is the hallmark
of hydroponic technology. With traditional farming, soil houses
the nutrients needed for a plant to grow; however, the soil merely
delivers those minerals, the soil itself does not contribute to
The roots of hydroponically grown plants are able
to receive the natural minerals necessary for growth, directly from
the nutrients found in the water.
Governor Phil Bredesen said, "I applaud Hydroserre
for choosing Tennessee for its newest production facility. This
investment in Tennessee and the jobs Hydroserre will bring to Overton
County is good news for this region of the state. We look forward
to building a long and prosperous partnership with them."
Overton County Mayor Kenneth Copeland said the announcement
was especially needed after a local factory recently announced it
was cutting back on jobs.
"With the recent slowdown in the economy and
the loss of jobs in manufacturing here, we are thrilled that Hydroserre
will locate in Overton County and create new job opportunities for
"We have good workers in this county, and we're
pleased that the state of Tennessee and TVA have been great partners
in this project. It will be a tremendous economic boost, not just
for Overton County, but for surrounding counties as well."
John Bradley, TVA senior vice president of Economic
Development, added, “TVA and Upper Cumberland Electric Membership
Corporation are pleased to be part of the state and local economic
development team to assist and welcome Hydroserre Tennessee."
HydroSerre Mirabel began operation in 1987, stemming
from a research and development project. The company originated
as a result of an innovative idea and the determination of a family
The company developed the ability to reap 16-18 crops
annually with unique and exclusive growing methods utilizing "deep
pool floating raft technology", and instantly gained international
HydroSerre Mirabel is committed to the constant development
of its leading edge technology in the spirit of continuous improvement
of its products and customer service. Further information is available
John Roberts, executive director of Livingston-Overton
County Chamber of Commerce, said, "Clearly this is a great
opportunity for Overton County, and we've been working with this
company to find a suitable site for its operations.
"We're excited that they are coming into this
county, and look forward to the many things that will happen to
benefit the county once they get started here."
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bill passed in Overton County
A counterfeit $50 was passed at a Livingston business
on Sunday, Feb. 11. The bill was said to have been one of the best
counterfeits in recent memory. The paper is almost the same, if
not the same, as government issue. The watermark picture of President
Grant is in the bill very close to the proper location. The bill
passed a marker pen test.
The one major flaw in the counterfeit scheme is that
the bill has the same serial number as other counterfeit $50 bills
found in Morgan and Fentress counties. The serial number on the
fake is GE15940781A. Also, the 50 in the bottom right corner is
a rust color and does not appear to change color as the true bill,
which is gold changing to green when tilted.
Anyone with any knowledge of counterfeit $50 bills
being circulated should call Livingston Police Department or Overton
County Sheriff’s Department.
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Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston' Tennessee 38570