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County waiting on Elevance for dock

NATCHEZ — Adams County needs a few key details from Elevance Renewable Sciences before the county can move forward with its construction of a liquid loading dock for the Elevance project in the Natchez-Adams County Port.

The county committed to building the liquid loading dock as part of an overall economic recruitment agreement to bring Elevance and its 165-permanent job commitment to the area in 2011, but had not moved forward with the construction until the company started its own work.

Elevance gave the green light for construction on the Natchez project in October. The company already has some limited operations at its location, the former Delta Biofuels.

Jordan, Kaiser and Sessions Engineer Doug Wimberly said the county’s portion of the engineering for the liquid loading dock is almost complete.

“We are waiting on Elevance now to finalize some of their designs to make sure we are meshing and harmonizing with them,” Wimberly said.

The final cost estimate for the project will be contingent on the Elevance plans, he said.

Previous estimates put the cost of the dock at $4 million.

The total county commitment to the Elevance project also includes upgrades to the wastewater treatment facility at the former International Paper facility — which will be operated under the oversight of the St. Catherine Creek Utility Authority — and rail upgrades.

Rail upgrades are currently under way, including the repair of a rail trestle over St. Catherine Creek, and will be necessary to handle the rail traffic that will move in and out of the Elevance facility.

Natchez Inc. Executive Director Chandler Russ said though the balance of the county’s portion of the Elevance project will be covered by a bond, it will be funded in part by approximately $2 million in grant funds from the state, approximately $2.15 million in 0-percent interest rail loans.

Russ, who is also president of the St. Catherine Creek Utility Authority, said the upgrades to the wastewater treatment facility should be funded by a separate $4.7 million grant.

The other work the county is putting into the Elevance project will count as match funds, he said, so the grant will not require any other match.

The detailed engineering for the wastewater treatment facility should be completed sometime next week, Russ said.

“Our main focus is to try to time all of our construction projects regarding rail, liquid loading and wastewater treatment with the opening of Elevance’s facilities, so you will see that construction move forward in a timed fashion that has them and us staying in a positive cashflow position, meaning that as they get into production, you don’t go out there and build the liquid loading dock and not have the customers out there to support it,” he said.

“When Elevance will need it is when we will time our construction.”