LIBERTY — A planned sawmill expansion should bring dozens of jobs, an expanded outlet for local timber — and revenue to the town.
Town officials took several steps Tuesday to help with the project at Greentree Lumber Co. on Highway 24 East.
“This is something we feel like is going to be huge for this area, all of southwest Mississippi,” Mayor Pat Talbert said at Tuesday’s town board meeting.
The town will benefit by charging a “transportation fee” for natural gas to the mill to fire its kilns.
Aldermen agreed to pay Liberty Insurance $250 for a $10,000 bond, which the Department of Transportation requires for boring under Highway 584 for the gas line to the plant. The bond ensures coverage in case of damage to the highway south of town.
“That’s the only expense we’re going to have,” Talbert said.
The company will foot the cost to lay 8,000 feet of three-inch gas line cross-country from the town’s line to the company.
“They’re going to start clearing the right of way on (Oct.) 12th,” Talbert said. “They’re going to have gas flowing out there by Nov. 1st.”
Aldermen agreed to apply for a road bore permit from MDOT. They also accepted a letter from Entergy allowing the line to cross its easements.
Board attorney Sara Hemphill has been busy acquiring easements for the gas line.
“They (Greentree) are going to construct the line and donate that construction to the town, and then the town will maintain that line from that point forward,” she said.
“It seems too good to be true,” said Alderman Walt Gaston.
“It gets better,” Talbert said.
The town will charge Greentree 25 cents per unit as a transport fee for the natural gas. Texican, which sells gas to the town and will also sell it to the mill, will bill Greentree for the fee and credit the amount to the town’s account.
“Our gas account will grow, our profit,” Talbert said. “Greentree will have its own account with Texican for gas.
“They could use a quarter million dollars of gas a month. We’ll make a good, comfortable profit off this transportation fee, and as this mill grows, that will grow, too.”
That’s big news for a town whose budget has a $225,275 natural gas fund.
Then there are the employment opportunities.
“They’re going to have some good-paying jobs with benefits, 401(k),” Talbert said of Greentree.
Exact numbers were unavailable from Greentree, located at the former Mabry Lumber Co. site, but Talbert said the company could triple or quadruple its current count of about 50 employees.
The expanded mill will be a good outlet for local timber owners as well.
“Let’s pump some gas!” Gaston said.
“Let’s make some money!” added Alderwoman Nora Morgan.