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Mayor updates council on possible plant purchase

The city of Clinton and Van Buren County held talks last week with JBS, owner of the poultry plant in Clinton that has been “idled” since 2008.

Clinton Mayor Roger Rorie said Don Jackson, CEO of JBS USA, said the property is on their books for $8.2 million, and that is the price they want. A recent appraisal paid for by the the city of Clinton placed the facility’s value at $2.4 million. Rorie said the state has offered that for the facility. He said Jackson was not interested in the offer.

Rorie said he told Jackson that the city would “have no choice” but to begin condemnation procedures and that he was confident the appraisal would stand up in court. Rorie told Jackson that the city needs the facility for recreational purposes and perhaps a library.

The mayor that that shortly after the phone call was terminated, they received a call from JBS’ Bill Lovett, who asked if the $2.4 million offer was still on the table. Rorie said the city would get an updated appraisal taking into account the loss of any equipment JBS has removed from the facility since the original appraisal.

Councilman Sam Ward said he has seen equipment being removed from the building in the past few days.

“They don’t play fair,” Rorie said. “They never have and they never will.”

He said the debt incurred to accommodate the poultry plant is why the city is once again refinancing the bonds that paid for the sewer plant.

Earlier in the Aug. 9 meeting, the Clinton City Council approved a resolution retaining Stephens Inc. to serve as underwriter if the city chooses to refinance its bond issue.

The council also agreed unanimously to accept an agreement on procedures for selecting an ambulance service. The agreement is the product of several months of work by a panel appointed by County Judge Roger Hooper in the wake of the May 4 death of local attorney Brett Blakney. The agreement must be accepted by all the county’s incorporated cities and then goes to the Van Buren County Quorum Court for final approval.

Also at the meeting, Water Department manager Isaac Keeling said the system had four major line breaks in a week. He said two of those breaks occurred around the same time as earthquakes. He also said water loss for the previous month was 15.9 percent for Clinton and 43 percent for Burnt Ridge. He said $7,000 in chemicals were used in the water supply.

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