LAURINBURG – Residents have an opportunity to voice their opinions concerning county plans to apply for a grant to improve rail lines to the new Mountaire Farms plant at the Scotland County Board of Commissioners meeting on Monday.
The meeting will be held at the at the Emergency Operations Center at 1403 West Boulevard in Laurinburg, beginning at 7 p.m.
The county plans to apply for North Carolina Department of Commerce Economic Development Community Development Block Grant funds totaling $1.35 million to complete upgrades to the lines already at the county’s industrial site at the Laurinburg-Maxton Airport.
The rail CSX rail spur on the airport property is old and in disrepair, according to County Manager Kevin Patterson.
“There is about a mile of line that will need to be fully improved,” Patterson said. “The track doesn’t meet current standards, a lot of cross ties and track will have to be replaced.”
The project is part of efforts to accommodate Mountaire Farms who plan to invest $44 million to locate a feed mill in the county. The plant will eventually employ 65 people with positions ranging from truck drivers and manual laborers to supervisors and accountants.
The total estimated cost of the rail project is $9.2 million. The county’s portion of the bills is $2.9 million for the track on the industrial site. The remaining $6.3 million will cover improvements to the line on CSX, Laurinburg-Maxton Airport and Mount Air properties and will be paid for with other grant monies according to Patterson.
It is also possible on Monday that a resolution could be reached on the issue over two proposed fire substations to be built on the north and south ends of the county.
Objections arose over plans to delay construction on the north station while a larger than planned station was built on the south end of town on Purcell Road that would be run by Laurinburg Fire Department.
The Scotland County Fire Commission, local firefighters, and some residents wanted both stations built at the same time with dimensions of 40×45 foot buildings with two bays, heat, insulation and bathrooms. The commission believes the project would cost between $220,000 and $250,000.
The commission and firefighters also took issue with the fact that the city of Laurinburg would be running the Purcell Road Station. They wanted the station built on Leisure Road and for the Gibson Fire Department to run the substation. The group argued that the county would essentially be footing the bill to give the city another fire station with no investment from the city.
Commissioner Whit Gibson made a proposal to ask whether the city would share the cost of the south substation so that it could be built larger.
Patterson held a meeting with City Manager Charles Nichols in February to discuss the issue.
“At this point, they are not interested; they look at it as a county project,” Patterson said.
The city has provided land and infrastructure improvements as well as fire support to the county but is not interested in expanding its fire service according to Patterson.
Reach Beth Lawrence 910-506-3169