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Mill cleanup planned

Staff Report

Cleanup work is expected to begin soon on the east side mill property in Tallassee. The property is in ruins after the May 5 fire of last year.

Tallassee mayor Johnny Hammock has met with Tommy Hudson and his son Thomas of Mount Vernon Pine, LLC.

"I picked them up at the Tallassee airport. They have a little two-seater private plane," Hammock said. "We went back to our office. We met with Andy Coker, the building inspector. Their plans are to have equipment here and start taking the rubble and crushing it to make aggregate."

Cleaning up the rubble from a structure that was approximately one million square feet will be a major undertaking.

"He's just trying to offset his costs. The insurance company didn't cover the cleanup. He did some estimates. It'g going to cost about $1 million for the cleanup."

Mount Vernon Pine purchased the east side mills and 20 acres of property from Process Knowledge Corporation of Birmingham for $1,088,000. Process Knowledge bought the property from Mount Vernon Mills in 2006 shortly after it closed the Tallassee operation. Hudson had a $1 million insurance policy on the mill. There was two million board feet of heart pine within the structure.

Hudson addressed the detriment of his investment with the fire. "We've lost several million dollars," he noted. "We dont' see any reclaimable wood left. The only utility that is remaining on the site is the stone and maybe some of the bricks. It's very low value."

Some of the salvageable materials collected will be available for purchase as relics from the facility that stood for more than 100 years employing thousands in the community.

"If there's any stone that anybody wants," Hammock added, "he'll be offering that as well. The heat from the fire made it where you can't use it in construction."

So, what does the future hold?

"I told him to let me know if he's interested in selling a portion of that area," the mayor stated. "I think we need to look at future expansion of our water treatment facility. We have an easement right now on his property."

Hudson addressed the future of the site months back after the fire occured. "We have not made any plans. We've considered a number of things, but I wouldn't even want to repeat them. They may be as outrageous as the fire. We'll obviously do something with the property."

Hammock is pleased that the doors of communication are open.

"I'm glad I reached out to him and got him in my office. Now we've got progress. Sometimes poking your chest out and beating your chest is not the way to get things done. Sometimes you need to talk with people and work with them. Like I always say, you get more flies with honey than vinegar."

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