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MDA supports Vicksburg Forest Products’ expansion with $300K grant

A major expansion project at Vicksburg Forest Products is getting a financial boost through a grant totaling more than $300,000 from the state of Mississippi.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen earlier in the week authorized Mayor George Flaggs Jr. to sign an agreement for a $345,000 Mississippi Development Authority Development Infrastructure Program, or DIP, grant for the expansion, which is expected to create 60 direct jobs and involve $40 million in corporate investments.

Pablo Diaz, President and CEO of Vicksburg Warren Economic Development Partnership, said the grant supports rail spur and rail crossing improvements at the plant.

“It is also going to help us find a solution to a significant drainage issue that affects that area given the big hill on North Washington Street and the amount of water (runoff) that goes on the property,” he said.

Diaz said the plant’s operations use the Vicksburg Southern Railroad, a short line railroad that serves the Port of Vicksburg and is operated by WATCO, which manages the port for the Warren County Port Commission.

The rail improvements at the plant, he said, “Will increase significantly the number of railcars they use. That’s why these improvements are important; to be able to move the additional number of cars.”

The plant expansion is one of two projects affecting Vicksburg Forest Products.

Vicksburg officials are working on an estimated $1.2 million project to extend the existing levee surrounding Vicksburg Forest Products.

The levee extension would protect a section of the city’s main waterline from flooding and provide room for Vicksburg Forest Products to expand. Diaz said the grant funds will not be used for the levee project.

The board in May approved an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District for technical assistance in relocating the levee.

The board hired Stantec to perform the engineering for the project.

Preliminary plans involved building a new levee along the north side of Haining Road at Long Lake Road and into the existing levee. The levee was originally built to protect the former Anderson-Tully mill.

During the May 2017 flood, a valve on the section of the main waterline west of the levee broke, forcing the board to declare an emergency and hire a contractor to build a dike around the submerged waterline so the valve could be replaced.

The problem also forced city officials to close the water treatment plant’s main valve to prevent backflow and issue a boil water notice that ran for three days.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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