Early work on KiOR levee ongoing

Published 12:06 am Saturday, July 14, 2012

NATCHEZ — Local officials have begun the preliminary steps to move forward with building a $5 million levee on the former Belwood Country Club site.

The site is prone to flooding during high water events on the Mississippi River, and after alternative fuels company KiOR announced earlier this year that it will be investing $200 million in a fuel production facility on the property, the Adams County Board of Supervisors announced it had agreed to build a levee to keep high water out of the area.

Since then, the supervisors have been in contact with their bonding attorneys to discuss the funding of the project, Supervisors President Darryl Grennell said.

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“We were just laying everything on the table (with the attorneys) in terms of what we have to do here in respect to the construction of the levee, the money we will need, more or less laying it out so they can go ahead and work on the appropriate methodologies for appropriating the money,” Grennell said.

One of the things that will need to be worked out before the construction can begin is a fee-in-lieu agreement with KiOR, Natchez Inc. Executive Director Chandler Russ said.

“With a fee-in-lieu agreement, all you are doing is taking the tax money that (the company) would be paying, and paying the debt service — the monthly note — on the infrastructure you’ve put in,” Russ said.

Some basic pre-engineering for the project has been done, Russ said, so the county could get a proper cost estimate for the levee project.

The county’s engineering firm, Jordan, Kaiser and Sessions, did the pre-engineering.

Grennell said some other legal paperwork needed to be taken care of before the project could move forward full bore.

“We want that in place, so we don’t build a levee and then there is no plant, so there has to be some kind of legal pegwork in that respect,” Grennell said.

Once the agreements are in place, however, Russ said he hopes to see construction start right away, and Grennell said he believes that the work will begin before the end of the year.

“We need to start four to five months before their construction occurs,” Grennell said. “We would need to be ahead of them slightly so our levee will be complete upon the completion of the plant.”

When completed, KiOR’s plant will produce an alternative fuel that is made from a pine feedstock.

KiOR has a plant in Columbus that will produce the same as the proposed Natchez facility. The Columbus plant is expected to enter production before the end of the year.