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New meat processing plant project moves forward

By Meg Dickens
Freelance Writer

Most people are unaware that a new project has been in the works for many months within the Johnson County community. As plans were made and approvals sought, the Johnson County Commission has kept news of the project on the down-low until it was more sure. The commissioners voted to set aside a plot of land for the new meat processing plant, pending official approval and funding.
After debating, officials plan to put this new plant near the current Transfer Station. This position will be on county land and near commissioners who can help keep an eye on its progress. After speaking with County Property Assessor Matthew Lewis, the group decided they would need six to seven acres of the ten acres of flat land in this area.
County Mayor Mike Taylor is hopeful about the plant project and explained that outside sources are “on board” and “very supportive.” Officials have already sent in a pre-application for the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Grant to help make this project a reality. Results should be in within three to four weeks, and then officials can move forward.
Not only will the plant bring opportunities for local farmers, but it will also bring a plethora of new educational opportunities. Officials plan to use the plant to help train CTE (Career and Technical Education) students in a new way that was previously unavailable. The closest alternative was the fish farm located at Johnson County High School, where students raise, harvest, and filet tilapia for commercial sale.
At this point, commissioners have not directly announced whether the plant will bring new jobs to the community, but it seems likely that it will create at least a few. It may also bring in business from out of town, which would add more local tax revenue.
Keep an eye out for more news on the future meat processing plant, created opportunities, and progress in future editions of The Tomahawk and at the monthly County Commission meetings. The Johnson County Commission meets on the third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Johnson County Courthouse.