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Archives 02-14-2007

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County 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 and Riley."

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 round.

"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 industrial businesses.

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 voted no.

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 funds.

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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Drug 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 lockers.

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 inspection.

Livingston Academy's administration reported that all rooms and doors, inside and out, were secured and locked in 35 seconds.

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 inspection.

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 show it."

 

 

 

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Hydroponics 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 plant development.

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 our citizens.

"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 of entrepreneurs.

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 recognition.

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 at www.mirabel.qc.com.

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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Fake $50 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
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Livingston' Tennessee 38570
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