At the end of last Tuesday’s Fiscal Court Meeting, Magistrate Billy Sipes opened a discussion on the progress of bringing a new grain elevator to Meade County to replace the former CGB facility. He said that, due to the corona virus, they had not held any more meetings with the farmers, but that the following morning they would have a small meeting with representatives from the new company that had bought the Battletown rock quarry formerly owned by Hayden Materials. Progress had been made on the quarry being the possible site for a new grain elevator, but with the site now being under new ownership, those negotiations had to reboot from the start with the new company.
“One (grain) company is very interested, but you’ve got to have a site,” said Sipes.
He added that the quarry wants to see how much room they will need to have a granary, and see an actual footprint of it on paper. He said they have a footprint of what CGB was in the river bottom and planned to present that to the quarry.
“Hopefully, they will accept that and maybe that will be the new home,” explained Sipes. “We are trying to get a company to sign with us before the first of next year. That’s our hope.”
Judge Stith stated that having a location will help the feasibility study which is currently being conducted to be a bit more truer to the true cost ,and the county’s exposure, in pursuing a new grain elevator.
Sipes said that the company that was hired to do the study has been in contact with the grain companies that the county has been talking to, and for at least one of the companies, it has helped tremendously. He said the company has gone from interested to highly interested as a result of the study. This has led to an engineer from that company visiting the quarry site.
Since elevation plays a role in this site unlike the river bottom where CGB was located, the engineer said that they would have to design a system specific for that site which would include an elevator taking the grain down and dropping it onto a second elevator which would be designed as to minimize damaging the grain in the process. Sipes stated that double scaling was also a must for the company according to engineer. The former site at the river port only had one scale which forced incoming and outgoing farmers to take turns sharing the same scale as they came and left the facility. Double scales will make for a much quicker process.
Stith pointed out that the company also wants to be able to load two barges instead of one, which is how CGB operated. This will be accomplished by loading one and being able to flip it to start filling a second, already stationed barge, while the first one is being moved out. Sipes said that by doing that, they will probably start out with storage capacity close to what the CGB site had, but this company won’t need as much storage capacity with the increased ability to quickly get the grain on barges. The quicker they can load barges, the better versus putting it in storage and handling it twice. The CGB site was also notorious for having to refuse grain when the river became too high due to design flaw which would not be a problem at the quarry.
Though the window for having a grain handling facility open for harvest 2021 appears to have closed, things are looking very promising for a possible agreement to be signed with a grain company in 2021 with hopes of being operational for harvest 2022. Though there are still some hoops to jump through, a site agreement is paramount in solidifying the deal, whether it is with the new owners of the rock quarry in Battletown, or Monument Chemical in Brandenburg. Regardless, it appears that the hard work of all involved in this process to bring a grain elevator back to Meade County just may pay off with some great news for farmers and the local economy in the early part of 2021.