• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Gas a 'daunting task' for Midway Station

At the Woodford Economic Development Association (EDA) meeting on Friday, June 24, a discussion about bringing a natural gas line to Midway Station led chairman John Soper to conclude, "it's a daunting task." During the meeting, Soper said the EDA put the profit from the sale of the former Roach property to American Howa Kentucky in an escrow account meant to pay for bringing a gas line to the property. Executive Director Craig McAnelly said, "At this point, there's not enough users - that they (Columbia Gas) won't run it . that does not even come close to covering the estimated cost of it." Gene Hornback asked about the status of gas lines to the Brown-Forman warehouses to be built adjacent to Midway Station. Soper said a recent meeting with gas officials in which EDA members "twisted their arms as good as we could" led utility officials to say that even if AHK and Brown-Forman use gas to heat their building (instead of propane) "it doesn't move the needle. Gas used in production is what moves the needle." McAnelly said the cost of running a new gas line to Midway Station could be more than $1.5 million. Soper said the gas line from Midway is only large enough to support the needs of AHK, that Columbia Gas would have to redo all the lines in Midway first, and that the utility isn't willing to do that. McAnelly said with $4.7 million debt owed for Midway Station (developer Dennis Anderson pays the monthly interest in return for an option to buy property there), the EDA can't afford to pay the up-front cost of bringing in a new gas line. Payment calculation After the financial report by treasurer Ron Layman and approval of several bill payments, Soper discussed the way Anderson's payments on the interest on the Midway Station bonds issue were calculated. "As you know, Dennis pays, like, 99 percent of our interest. And how we got off on . a little bit of discrepancy there is (that) bond interest is figured on 360 days. You take the annual interest divided by 360 and you collect it 365 days. When we did the original agreement, Dennis figured it on a simple daily accrual, I didn't catch it, or (former treasurer) David Brown (didn't catch it), so there's about that five days' interest that we actually pay," Soper said. "And it's not worth dealing with it to redo the whole option agreement. So, just a little background on why there's about $2,000, I think, difference between what he pays (the EDA) and what we pay." There was no discussion on the matter and the EDA unanimously approved the six-month $69,037.16 bond interest payment. Offer rejected After an executive session, members voted unanimously to reject a letter of intent from an unnamed company to purchase 43 acres at Midway Station. Soper said the offer didn't meet the EDA's minimum financial requirements. "And until state incentives are finalized, we're not in a position to accept it at this point, but we will continue negotiations ." Soper said. After the EDA meeting, Soper would not disclose the name of the company, but said the property in question amounted to nearly all the industrial-zoned land at Midway Station. McAnelly said the EDA signed a confidentiality agreement that would last until the company made an announcement. At the June 14 Woodford Fiscal Court meeting, Soper said a California-based company was considering opening a plant in Woodford County that could employ 240 people. Soper said the family-owned company's site selection committee visited in April, and the company's chief executive officer and four executives flew in from California a few weeks later. "We think it's going very well, and we think we have a real shot for competing against North Carolina and another city in Central Kentucky. But I think we'll win out, based on that, if we get a shot," Soper told the court, adding that state inventory tax incentives may be the deciding factor. Training request Members unanimously approved a request by Soper to attend a training session by the Kentucky Institute for Economic Development that will cost $645. Soper said because the training will be held in Lexington, there'll be no travel or lodging expenses. Soper said McAnelly was looking into whether a "scholarship" from the Bluegrass Area Development District was available to defray the cost of the program. "As you all know, what we do is so tied to the connections we have to the state. They're the ones that bring the big people to the table, so anything we can do to further that relationship is good," Soper said.

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