Ferriday evicting business from town warehouse

Published 12:06am Monday, July 15, 2013

FERRIDAY — The Town of Ferriday is evicting Ferriday Oil and Seed Processing LLC from a town-owned warehouse after the company allegedly failed to meet contract agreements.

The company occupied a warehouse that is currently hidden behind a field of overgrown grass on Louisiana 15 and hasn’t been operational for at least one year, financial backer Gary Thornton said.

Thornton said the plant temporarily ceased operation because of the price of soybeans.

“We are sitting idle until the price of soybeans goes down,” he said. “When we started beans were $12 per bushel and now they are $14 per bushel.”

But Thornton’s company may not be able to sit idle for long.

Ferriday Mayor Gene Allen said the company violated the minimum employee requirement and didn’t maintain an operating plant. Allen said he is evicting the company in August as a result.

The original contract stipulates that the company “must at all times maintain an operating plant on the site and employ a minimum of 10 full time employees. Failure to maintain an operating plant and/or employ the minimum number of employees will cause lessee to be in default of this agreement.”

The contract, signed under the administration of former mayor Glen McGlothin, would have generated $12,000 annually for Ferriday. The initial contract didn’t require Ferriday Oil and Seed to pay rent for the first 18 months.

Ferriday would have also generated revenue from sales tax on goods sold by the company.

But the city received its first and only payment of $1,000 this month, Allen said.

“They haven’t been operational in years and weren’t able to live up to their contract,” he said. “They are going to have to get their stuff out in August.”

McGlothin shares Allen’s opinion.

“I’m glad Mayor Allen is going to evict them,” he said. “I never got around to doing it.”

But Thornton tells a different story.

He said Ferriday Oil and Seed wasn’t required to pay rent until it met a certain production benchmark that was never met.

He was also unaware of a pending eviction.

“This is the first time I’ve heard of an eviction,” he said when called Friday. “We just signed a new deal.”

Thornton said the $1,000 paid to Ferriday this month was a part of the newly signed deal, which simply requires the company to pay $1,000 per month for rent until it figures out a plan to begin producing a product.

Thornton said the company is looking into other options in addition to soybeans, such as seafood processing, to resume operations.

“If the mayor doesn’t want to try to make something happen to get income into the parish, that’s fine,” Thornton said.

If Allen’s eviction attempt is successful, the warehouse may be a hub of activity immediately after Ferriday Oil and Seed is evicted.

Allen said he met with a grain business last week that plans to move into the facility immediately after the existing tenant vacates the warehouse.

He declined to elaborate on the type or name of the business because the deal hasn’t been finalized, but stressed that it will make an impact on Ferriday residents.

“The building has been empty for several years,” Allen said. “So there is no way that it can’t be beneficial. It’ll add money to our budget and allow us to improve the city.”

Allen said the contract would include a similar rent and required number of employees.