By CRISTIN REECE
The Palestine City Council on Monday approved a couple items that puts the Sanderson Farms Inc. processing plant project a couple steps closer to fruition.
Council members, sans Steve Presley, approved expenditures by the Palestine Economic Development Corporation to purchase property for the plant. Sanderson Farms, Inc. produces, processes, markets and distributes fresh and frozen chicken and further processed and partially cooked chicken.
“We are ready to move forward,” Palestine Economic Development Director Wendy Ellis told council members during Monday’s city council meeting. “The PEDC has authorized the budget, which is coming out of the PEDC’s reserves. We will be seeking bonds to help reimburse those funds.”
Sanderson Farms is planning to build a new, state-of-the-art poultry hatchery and processing plant near Palestine. The company also built and operates a plant in Waco and a feed mill in Robertson County.
The $17 million, 65,000 square foot facility will be located on 10 acres in the Willow Creek Business Park on the South Loop in Palestine. A $75 million processing facility is planned on a 170 acre tract of land off U.S. Highway 79 South, near the waste water treatment plant.
The plant is expected to bring more than 1,000 full-time jobs and an annual payroll of more than $21 million to Anderson County. A $12 million wastewater facility also is part of Sanderson Farms’ plans for its Anderson County facility site.
The Anderson County facilities are scheduled to begin operation in 2015.
Council members also held a public hearing Monday regarding the city’s development of a Texas Capital Fund Infrastructure Program Grant application in support of the project’s projected job creation. No comments for or against the matter were made.
Ellis told council members during the hearing the grant could garner a maximum $750,000 to help cover the costs of certain infrastructure costs, including building a road to the processing plant.
City and county officials in February approved a joint contract to apply for the $1.5 million grant through the Texas Capital Fund to assist with expenditures for infrastructure construction required to support the development of the Sanderson Farms project.
Sanderson Farms, Anderson County, the City of Palestine, the Palestine Economic Development Corporation and Freestone County are working together on the project.
Palestine Herald Press Publisher Gary Connor and Community Editor Cheril Vernon contributed to this article.
Cristin Reece may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org