County to aid in rail grant

Published 12:13 am Tuesday, March 18, 2008

NATCHEZ — On Monday the Adams County Board of Supervisors moved one step closer to helping provide Rentech with much needed infrastructure.

The supervisors passed a motion allowing the pre-application for a grant to be presented to the Mississippi Development Authority for a new railroad track and trestle that would allow Rentech to transport materials to their yet to be built plant.

Director of the Southwest Mississippi Planning and Development District Wirt Peterson will be applying to the MDA for a Community Development Block Grant on behalf of the county.

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While the project is estimated to cost approximately $4.4 million the county will not have to match any part of the grant with cash.

Instead the county will be asked to donate their portion of the railroad to the project.

Both Peterson and Natchez project manager Joe Regnery said the trestle would come at no cost to the county.

The railroad trestle to be refurbished is currently owned by the county and International Paper.

Later this month International Paper is expected to sell approximately 475 acres of land to Adams County.

The land will then be deeded to Rentech and Rentech will then own the IP half of the railroad, at that point the county will be asked to donate their portion of the existing railroad trestle to the project.

Regnery said the new track and trestle will be needed to handle components Rentech with which it will build its plant.

Regnery said the new trestle and railway could also benefit the Adams County Port.

The port, already using the existing trestle, would be able to use the new track and trestle for their transport needs.

In addition if the port and Rentech were trying to use the same track, too much traffic would congest the track Regnery said.

The grant will allow for the addition of a second track to eliminate congestion.

Regnery also said any new business built in the area close to the new track would be able use it, helping to cultivate an environment of economic growth in the area.

“I’m pleased for the county, the economic development opportunities, the port authority and Rentech,” Regnery said.

In other news the supervisors approved a 10-year tax exemption for Delta BioFuels.

The exemption was originally granted in 2006 but Delta was not eligible for exemption because they were not operational at the time.

Now that Delta has begun production they are eligible for the exemptions.

Executive assistant Johnna Gandy said the tax benefits will greatly aid the company’s growth and in turn help Adams County.