Headlines – 11/19/2004

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 19, 2004

Panolian Headlines: November 19, 2004

For complete stories, pick up the 11/19/04  issue of The Panolian
City’s Gas Supply Ready for Winter
Prices Secured During Summer Months
By Jason C. Mattox
News Editor

The City of Batesville has gas- and plenty of it to get its residents through, what is projected to be, a cruel winter.

Howard Randolph of Utility Management from Jackson told the city it was prepared if the winter is as harsh as some speculate.

"We have been managing your gas supply for 11 years now," he said. "And due to the price of gas right now, we wanted the chance to discuss just what the future holds for your supply."

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Randolph told city leaders there is more than 60,000 mmbtu of natural gas in storage.

"That puts you at approximately 73 percent capacity," he said. "You have enough in storage to handle the cold months that are ahead of you."

Randolph said Utility Management purchases natural gas for the city during the spring and summer months when costs are traditionally lower than they will be during the fall and winter months.

"You will almost certainly pay more during the fall and winter months," he said. "It has a lot to do with the law of supply and demand."

Randolph explained that the gas was purchased at a fixed price before it hit the recent high point.

"We were able to lock you in at a lower cost," he said. "Last winter you saved approximately $70,000 by purchasing at a fixed rate, and we believe more of the same will happen this year."

Randolph explained that one reason the cost of natural gas is so high right now is because of the costs of oil.

"I know you wouldn’t think that the costs of natural gas would be tied to oil production and costs, but they are directly related," he said.

"With the uneasy situation in the Middle East and the increasing costs to get oil, it is causing a spike in the costs of natural gas," Randolph continued.

"Normally what drives the cost of natural gas is the weather, but that is not the only factor taken into consideration this year," he said.

Couple Seeks City’s Help
With "Muddy" Situation
By Jason C. Mattox
News Editor

One Batesville couple told the Mayor and Board of Aldermen they wanted something done about the condition of their pond.

During a meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 16, Mary and Ralph Keating told city leaders their pond has been polluted by the run off of dirt from the Civic Center construction.

"We basically have a pool full of mud because of the Civic Center," Mary Keating explained. "At one time this pond was crystal clear.

"You could see all the way to the bottom and now it’s like nothing but a big mud puddle," she said.

Keating told the board that she feared even more run off into the pond when Lowe’s began construction, but those fears were eased following a conversation with the company.

"My husband spoke with the people at Lowe’s and they said they would do whatever they could to prevent more mud from getting into the pond, and they did it."

Keating said Lowe’s quickly sodded its landscape and covered the other areas with the green netting to keep the soil from washing away.

"We have been told by the city that when they could they would get in there and clean out the pond," she said. "Now we are at a point where we want to see it done."

Keating explained the family had been hit with personal and family issues that pushed the pond to the back burner for the past two years, but now they would like to see a promise fulfilled.

"That pool has been nothing more than a minor issue over the last couple of years," she said. "But now we just want something done about it. It looks horrible."

Keating said she would like to see something done before the new bank begins construction in the spring of 2005.

"I don’t expect the city to do anything during the winter months," she said. "I understand you don’t have the people to get the work done, but I would like to see something done about this as soon as possible."

Mayor Bobby Baker told the Keatings that the city would go out and look at the pond to see what they could do to rectify the problem.
"Don’t say we won’t get to it soon," he said. "If the weather holds off, we might be able to get to it sooner than you think."

Good Things Stew on Dividing Ridge
The Coleman stew has become a tradition in Yalobusha County and the surrounding area, not just for the food, but for the bluegrass music played by several members of the Coleman clan.
Biodiesel is a Dream Come True for Many
By Jason C. Mattox
News Editor

(The following is a clarification of a story published in Tuesday’s issue of The Panolian.)

In the Tuesday, Nov. 16 edition of The Panolian, it was stated that Panola County resident Larry Freeman, former vice-president of THI, Inc. in Batesville, was co-founder of Biodiesel of Mississippi along with William Tacker. The article should have stated that William Tacker, of Tupelo, is the CEO of Biodiesel of Mississippi.

Ten years in the planning, and two and one-half years in construction, Biodiesel of Mississippi has the capacity to turn out a whopping 100 gallons per minute of the white crude.

The new plant, officially set to open in a few weeks, converts soybean oil into clean-burning fuel. When open, the fuel will sell for about $1.50 per gallon, far under unleaded gasoline prices of up to $2.20 per gallon.

The fuel isn’t just for diesel-powered automobiles and trucks. Many large companies throughout the region are using biodiesel in other engines. According to Tacker, McMinnville Electric System in McMinnville, Tennessee is installing a 2,000-kilowatt Caterpillar generator connected to a non-SCR catalytic nitrogen oxide reduction system which will run on bio diesel fuel. The company will be putting out less pollution than before by using the electricity fueled from a clean, biodiesel fuel. McMinnville Electric system has contracted with Biodiesel of Mississippi to supply the fuel.

Because the biofuel is grown and produced domestically, it helps reduce our dependence on foreign oil, helps boost the economy, and helps to strengthen the U.S. energy security. According to Tacker, Biodiesel of Mississippi is the only refinery in the state using soybean oil to produce fuel.

Biofuels such as the biodiesel produced in Nettleton are a renewable and virtually inexhaustible source of fuel.

Even when the diesel made from soybeans is used to blend with regular diesel, it can still reduce many of the harmful pollutants associated with petroleum-based diesel.
The company is capable of producing 100 gallons per minute, and is averaging 25,000 gallons per day of biodiesel.

The Nettleton plant is the first one of its type in the world using hydrogen (Brown’s gas), says Tacker, giving the plant the lowest production cost in the nation.

Biodiesel of Mississippi has been in the planning for 10 years and two and one-half years in construction. and is already planning expansion. Tacker said they plan to build new refineries in Birmingham, Al., McNimble, TN., and another site in the northwest Delta of Mississippi. The company is also working as a technical consultant to help a sister company which plans to build seven biodiesel refineries in California.

Biodiesel of Mississippi has spent millions to convert the former Bunge Grain Elevator in Nettleton into a refinery. Nettleton, a small town of less than 2,000 people, is located south of Tupelo on Highway 45.

According to its proponents, biodiesel has considerable environmental and health benefits. Studies have shown that biodiesel can reduce tailpipe emissions by up to 60 percent, and can make diesel engines last up to 40 percent longer. Vehicles that run on biodiesel fuel create less pollution that can harm people’s health, particularly the health of children. There are also fewer greenhouse gases that can cause global warming.

Another positive to the fuel is since it’s made from soybeans, it gives a big boost to the nation’s farmers, while lessening the dependence on foreign oil.

"This is a dream come true for the people in this world who need, and want good, clean fuel," said Tacker.

Tacker said without the help of Dr. Lester Spell, Agriculture Commissioner for the state, Senators Trent Lott and Thad Cochran in Washington, Biodiesel of Mississippi would never have been a reality.

"We owe our existence and gratitude to these three men," said Tacker.

Biodiesel of Mississippi is currently looking for independent service stations to handle the fuel.