By CHERIL VERNON
The Anderson County Commissioners’ Court approved its part of a joint contract Monday with the Palestine Economic Development Corp. and the City of Palestine to allow Traylor and Associates to apply for a $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.
According to reports, the contract calls for Traylor & Associates to write, submit, administer and close out the grant through the end of the project.
“The amount is only payable if the grant funds are secured and no money will be due unless grant funds are obtained,” Anderson County Judge Robert Johnston said Tuesday. “We did agree as a Court that Anderson County would pay for half of the fee, up to $45,000 maximum, if we are successful, which helps with the cost of bringing Sanderson Farms to Anderson County.”
Sanderson Farms notified the City of Palestine and Anderson County on Feb. 14 of its intent to build a poultry complex in the region. The announcement immediately followed the completion of the company’s annual stockholders meeting in Laurel, Miss.
Sanderson Farms plans to build three facilities in the area, two of which will be located in Anderson County and one in Freestone County. The company will invest approximately $92 million on the construction of a hatchery and processing plant that will be located in Anderson County, and an additional $32 million on the feed mill in Freestone County. Once the hatchery and processing plant are open, the company expects to employ up to 1,000 people.
The new big bird deboning complex will consist of a feed mill, hatchery, poultry processing plant and waste water facility, all located in and near Palestine This facility will compliment the company’s existing operations located in Bryan and Waco.
Sanderson Farms, Anderson County, the City of Palestine, the Palestine Economic Development Corporation and Freestone County are working together on the project. Sanderson Farms, Inc. is engaged in the production, processing, marketing and distribution of fresh and frozen chicken and further processed and partially cooked chicken.
Also during the Anderson County Commissioners’ Court meeting Monday, the commissioners approved a resolution to add Leon County to the 369th Judicial District.
According to Johnston, current 369th District Court Judge Bascom W. Bentley III had approached him about the addition of the third county, Leon County, to his district.
“Judge Bentley has received the support of Cherokee County Judge Chris Davis and Leon County Judge Byron Ryder,” Johnston told commissioners at the Feb. 11 meeting. “He is asking for our support as well.”
Johnston explained that if commissioners gave their support, then a bill would have to be drawn up for this legislative session and filed by March 2 in order for the district change to be considered by lawmakers.
Commissioners also approved proceeding forward with getting requests for qualifications from architects for a new roof for the 26-year-old Anderson County Jail.
At the Jan. 28 meeting, Sheriff Greg Taylor reported the jail’s roof currently has more than 100 leaks that have been patched up numerous times. Taylor said major work was done on the jail’s existing flat roof in 2002, but the warranty has run out.
“We need to replace the flat roof and are looking at options of putting a metal roof on it,” Johnston said Tuesday. “The commissioners were in agreement that we need to fix it right because we have too much invested in the jail to let it go bad.”
In other action, the commissioners:
• APPROVED contract with the Van Zandt County Youth Multi-Service Center after hearing from Anderson County Chief Juvenile Probation Officer Emily Lane.
• APPROVED pay increase for Anita Lamb, who fills in on secretarial duties for several county offices as needed.
• APPROVED certification of 2012 asset forfeiture reports for Sheriff and Drug Investigation Unit.
• APPROVED resolution to oppose House Bill 958 reducing the interest crediting rate on Texas County & District Retirement System funds.
• APPROVED 2013-14 Violence Against Women Grant Resolution after hearing from Anderson County District Attorney’s office.
• APPROVED Texpool resolution amending authorized representatives.
• APPROVED budget amendments, bills and reports from county officials.