Mannington plan is on track

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 29, 2004

EPES – Mannington Mills has completed the purchase of land necessary for the expansion of its operations in the county.

Circuit Judge Eddie Hardaway, who serves as president of the Sumter County Industrial Development Board, said the move to sell about 10 acres the IDB owned to Mannington had been completed and is pleased with the project’s progress.

“As far as I understand, it’s progressing fairly well,” he said.

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Hardaway said the only hitch to land deal was discovered during the land survey. About a one-half acre track of the parcel was discovered to have old barrels and other trash left behind by a former tenant.

“There are some things that have to be resolved and we need to do some work out there,” he said.

James Mock, director of the Regional Center of Community and Economic Development at the University of West Alabama and a member of the IDB, said Mannington purchased the 10 acres, less the area that needed to be cleaned up, for $10,000 from the IDB and paid an additional $15,000 for truck scales already installed on the property. The remaining land would be conveyed to Mannington once the IDB settles on a course of action for clean up.

Mannington officials, however, said the clean up on the small portion of the land wasn’t hampering its expansion, announced in July.

“We purchased the land from them but there are no issues on the land that we need … we purchased what we need to move forward with the expansion,” said Sonya Smitherman. “There’s nothing holding up the expansion.”

The expansion project will mean about 30 new jobs at the plant in its first phase, Smitherman said.

The Epes plant manufactures wood veneers that are then shipped to Mannington’s High Point, N.C. plant and used to create hardwood laminate flooring. The expansion in Sumter County could have been built at the North Carolina plant.

Eventually, the expansion project could double the size of the plant near Epes.

Mock said Mannington had submitted an estimate that clean up costs for the half-acre of about $17,000. In addition, logging activities have left debris that needs to be cleaning as well.

“We have a bid Mannington had in terms of what it would take to clean up the site, but it was fairly expensive and we’re looking at alternatives to that,” Hardaway said.