$17M wood pellet plant slated for port facility

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Jackson’s City Council took the first step toward the establishment of a new Jackson industry Tuesday. A resolution was passed at the council meeting seeking a tax abatement for CM Biomass dba Jackson Pellets.

The company plans to locate a wood pellet plant at the port that will create 20-25 new jobs. Mayor Paul South said the city and the industrial development board have been working on the $17,000,000 project for eight months.

South said Wednesday that the project had been months in the works. “We had to sign a confidentiality agreement and keep quiet about it,” he explained.

South said, “I have to be honest, when they first approached us about building a pellet plant I took it with a grain of salt.” Jackson has had past pellet plants that didn’t work out.

But this one is the real thing, South said. “We will be utilizing the port and the Tombigbee River.”

South said that with the $450 million expansion at the PCA paper mill and retail growth in the city, “Jackson is moving forward.”

The resolution passed Tuesday will go to the Alabama Department of Commerce then to the Legislature for approval.

Total budget of $13M

A budget of $9,914,030 was passed for fiscal year 2022. Combined budget for the city and water department is more than $13,067,000. This reflects an increase of approximately $640,000 from the past year.

Street paving

Mayor South said that bids will be sought in the amount of $399,918 for street paving in the city. Streets set to be paved include East Drive and Nichols Drive in District 1; Deas Street, Linden Avenue, East Clinton Street and Cherry Avenue in District 2; Camelia Court, Charlotte Circle, Beverly Lane and Dawson Avenue in District 3.

Council member Kedrick Bettis expressed concern that Davis Avenue was not included in the paving project. The mayor said that other streets in District 1 were more critical and that he felt that Davis could be repaired and would look into having those repairs made.

Chamber activities

Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce Director Katie Soderquist reported that the chamber’s website has been redone and they will be able to update it themselves now.

She announced dates for upcoming chamber events. The Fall Festival will be Saturday Nov. 6; Christmas Open Houses at local businesses is set for Nov. 14.

The annual Christmas Tree Lighting will be Dec. 2. Soderquist said they hope to include a Christmas market at that time. The Christmas Parade will be Dec. 10.

Mayor South reminded her that the Farmer’s Market will open Saturday for the fall season. She said that she will request that they not open during the Fall Festival.

Scam alert

Alabama Power Community Relations Manager Michelle McAndrews told the council that scammers are calling local residents claiming to represent the power company. They are telling them that they recently submitted a payment that did not go through and their power will be turned off immediately if they don’t make a payment by phone.

She said that Alabama Power will never call requesting payment. She asked anyone getting these calls to hang up and call Alabama Power.

Fire Prevention Parade

Daron Bolen reminded the council that the Fire Prevention Parade is next Wednesday, Oct. 6. Lineup will start at 2:30 p.m. with the parade beginning at 3:30. He said anyone interested in participating may call city hall.

Bolen also said he had a call from a resident of Plantation Trace subdivision saying that the street lights there have not been upgraded to LED. JPD Chief Taylor said he understood that those lights are owned by the homeowners association rather than the city so the city doesn’t have the authority to upgrade.

Other business

Chief Taylor made the council aware of a social media post claiming someone had tried to abduct a child at Walmart. He said this was a custody dispute between a couple and not an attempted abduction.

The city has applied for a special Community-Based Development (CBD) grant from Covid money in the amount of $500,000 for Jackson Medical Center. The money must be used for Covid related projects.

A grant was applied for to be used for industrial access improvements on Port Road. This will be a $2.1 million project.

Mayor South said he met with Volkert Engineering and has applied for a grant for new hangers at the airport.

Applied for an ATRIP II grant for to improve access to Gillmore Elementary and medical facilities located on Mayton Drive.

A resolution was approved to for the purchase of tasers and software for the Jackson Police Department. The purchases will be made with money from the American Rescue Fund.

Audra Raybon reported that since this is Jackson High School’s homecoming week, there will be lots of activity at Legion Field on Friday. She urged everyone to be extra cautious in the area and watch for children.

Mayor South announced that Trick or Treat in Jackson will be held Saturday, Oct. 30 since Halloween falls on a Sunday this year.

Council Member Jane James was absent from Tuesday’s meeting. The next meeting is Oct. 12 at 6 p.m.

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