Clearing Begins on Property for Star Expansion

October 28, 2008
Dwayne Page
Property being cleared for Star expansion
County Mayor Mike Foster

A bulldozer operator Tuesday began clearing the site where Star Manufacturing plans to expand it's operation.

The county commission Monday night authorized the expenditure of funds which have been in the budget since last year to assist Star with it's plans.

County Mayor Mike Foster says the money will be transferred to and later be repaid by the county industrial development board. "In the budget, under the category ‘ property acquisition of land', is the money that we put up for the earnest money, to do topo mapping, the Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP permit), and some of the other things that you (county commission) authorized us to spend as our incentive for Star. It wound up being $57,000 which will eventually be transferred to the Industrial Development Board, and they will repay this money that we're spending now so that it is spent out of the right pocket. It was authorized fully and completely last year on page 54 and this year on page 56 (of the budget). We got the SWPPP permit. They're going to start clearing the boundary of the property tomorrow (Tuesday) morning in order to put in the silt fence. I had conversations today (Monday) with the people at Star and they said to proceed with the clearing, which is wonderful news because we thought it might be put off a few months because of the economy being the way it is, but I think they are ready to proceed."

"What I'm asking for tonight is authorization to spend the money that's already in the budget. It's to authorize the expenditure, to do the SWPPP permit and the clearing of that land to get it prepared for site prep which will be done by the company."

Star Manufacturing, a division of the Middleby Corporation, last month announced plans to expand it's Smithville operation and create another 200 jobs.

A new building for the expansion will be constructed on a 50 plus acre site on Coconut Ridge Road, just a short distance from the present location on Hobson Street.

Frank Ricchio, President of Star Manufacturing, made the announcement saying "Star is purchasing 58 acres just up the street from our current plant here and we're looking forward over the next couple of years to start expanding manufacturing. We hope to add another 100 to 200 thousand square feet over the next several years. I think we have about 235 employees here in Smithville and there's a potential over the next 12 to 24 months for (adding) a couple of hundred jobs or maybe a little more than that."

In other business, the county commission Monday night authorized in-house billing at the county operated ambulance service.

County Mayor Foster says for the last year, the county has paid a Georgia company to do the billing. "By error, they (Georgia company) started our (fiscal) year on June 1st, instead of July 1st, and our reports have been out of sync with them. He (state auditor) suggested that we start our own billing process here in the county now, since we've been through it a year. The committee Thursday night voted to do that and to recommend to the commission that we do that. Right now we're paying about $42,000 to $46,000 a year for this company in Georgia to do the billing. By doing the billing in-house, the first year we'll save about $4,000. The next year we'll save about $12,000 because once we buy that software from EMS Consultants then there's only a yearly update rather than the one time purchase. So it will actually save the county about $12,000 once we get into the second year. It will require a secretary. This person would be hired there (ambulance service) and we'll have to adjust the revenue there from contracted services into an employee position there."

Meanwhile, Foster says tire dumping is still occurring in DeKalb County. "We're still getting some illegal dumping of tires, especially at Caplinger Hollow and in the Smith Fork area. There is a reward if anyone sees somebody doing that. We would like to spend that money to catch whoever this is. If you see a vehicle in your community that's loaded with tires and maybe pulling a trailer, please call and we'll offer a reward. Hopefully the word is getting around. The Sheriff's Department and TWRA have caught some people and I think that will help. It's just an unnecessary and tragic thing we need to get stopped."

In a brief report on the landfill, Foster says "the cell excavation is just about complete and we will be ready, hopefully, within two weeks to start putting the liner in."

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