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City, county OK action to aid new port plant

[10/19/04]A new $10 million plant is expected to locate on the E.W. Haining Industrial Center following action by the Warren County Board of Supervisors and City of Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen Monday.

Also, Monday action calls for medical first responders to be dispatched to emergencies as soon as a startup date is set.

County board attorney Randy Sherard presented a proposed resolution of intent to supervisors, saying the Mississippi Development Authority suggested the board approve the resolution on the behalf of DTE PetCoke LLC, based in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The MDA is requesting this because the company is using state financing,” Sherard said.

He explained the resolution being sought would simply obligate the board to consider an exemption from real property and personal property taxes under the policies the board used in the past, such as that the company make the request after the facility is built and running, that it have no past due taxes and it is approved by the State Tax Commission.

“It is my understanding the raw product is a wet blob of stuff that is a byproduct of the petroleum distilling industry,” Sherard said.

The company will bring the material in, dry it, pulverize it and turn it into a low-grade, economical fuel for power generation, he said, adding that customers would be manufacturing plants required to generate their own electricity.

Jimmy Heidel, executive director of the Warren County Port Commission, said the company is planning a $10 million facility investment to be located on an essentially vacant tract on the north end of the extension of the Haining Industrial Center. It will employ 11 people.

He said the raw material would be brought in by barge and help increase the tonnage handled through the industrial center.

The City’s Mayor and Board of Alderman also approved a similar resolution of intent to consider the tax exemption for the company. Both boards approved the resolutions unanimously.

“It’s encouraging to see more growth at the harbor and the creation of more jobs,” Mayor Laurence Leyens said.

The matter of first responders came up last week during one of the informal discussion meetings of the Warren County Board of Supervisors. At that time, Kelly Worthy, the county’s coordinator for volunteer fire departments, asked the board to consider reinstating the medical first responder program. Before Warren County and the City of Vicksburg entered into an agreement for the Vicksburg Fire Department to supply ambulance and emergency medical service in the area of Warren County outside the city limits, the county had a system of first responders. The idea was for a person trained in basic firms of first aid to be able to arrive at the scene where someone was sick or injured before an ambulance could arrive and provide initial help.

At the time, there was no provision in state law to cover medical first responders. In this year’s session of the Legislature, lawmakers amended the law defining medical first responders.

“I have letters from all six (volunteer) fire department chiefs recommending you allow volunteer medical first responders and to notify E-911 to begin dispatching them,” Worthy told supervisors Monday, he also presented documentation that the first responders would be covered by insurance.

Explaining how the program would work in response to a question from Charles Selmon, board president and District 3 supervisor Worthy said first responders would be dispatched to sick calls and injury calls to provide care until an ambulance from the city could arrive on the scene with equipment and people to provide more advanced emergency medical care.

“This is to enhance the ambulance service, not take anything away from it,” he said.

Worthy said the volunteer fire departments already have 18 people on a first-responder roster who have the needed training and certification to begin work immediately.

“Once this gets started, more people” will become certified, he added.

To receive the state certification as a medical first responder a person must pass a 40-hour training course and a national certification examination to receive a Mississippi license.

No effective date was set to begin the program, but District 1 Supervisor David McDonald said it should go into effect as soon as possible.

He said construction should begin soon and the plant is expected to be in operation by sometime in 2005.

In other matters, the board:

Approved, at the request of the E-911 Commission, the naming of Blackstock Road in northwest Warren County; the naming of McKenzie Drive off Mississippi 27; the readdressing of Rollingwood Drive; the naming of Cole Lake Drive and Christopher Landing Road in Tucker Crossing, and approved the change of the spelling of a road to Lakeside Drive.

Approved allowing the Warren County Purchasing Department to advertise for bids to provide food service at the Warren County Jail.

Received for information that the hours of operation of the Kings Point Ferry will change to 4:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. effective Oct. 31.

Approved a request from County Engineer John McKee and the Natural Resource Conservation Service the county declare erosion control projects on Dana, Possum Hollow, Bell Bottom and Roy Young roads an emergency and take bids quickly. The NRCS and McKee said recent heavy rains caused the situation on the roads to deteriorate.

Supervisors voted to allow McKee to contact contractors to submit bids for opening at 9 a.m. Monday so the county can award the work as quickly as possible.

Recessed until 9 a.m. Monday.