Ben Marberry letter

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Letter to the Editor

Rolando Foods smells fishy

To the Editor:

I have a question for the readers. Does anyone else sense a faint but very discernable, “fishy” odor concerning the Rolando Foods ongoing saga of a couple of years duration?

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I have been following the events closely and the story has all the components for a movie. There is drama, intrigue, but mostly comedy. I mean, really, how many excuses can one human have for not delivering on his promise, his word or his commitment?

As quoted in The Panolian on August 3, 2007, Rolando-Curtis Foods CEO  Jeff Harper stated that Roland Butler was a “visionary.” He also mentioned while speaking about others in Maryland, “Those people know Roland and know he can deliver.”

What I say, is the Manhattan Project (you know, the one that built the first Atomic Bomb) didn’t take but about four – five years and it was the very first one ever built. I am of the opinion that bottling water does not nearly approach the degree of difficulty that is needed for bomb building yet here we are some two years into this charade and no bottled water.

I don’t know what happened, but there is plenty of bottled water in most every food store in town.

Deadline after deadline has been missed. The reasons are varied and numerous, e.g., they had to clean up a well (some said they did and some said they didn’t). Supervisor Avant was quoted in the same issue of The Panolian, “If Dana hadn’t left a mess, it would have been open.” And previously-mentioned CEO Jeff Harper is quoted as saying, “All I can say is this simply takes time… This is a major undertaking.”

Harper also stated in the same story, dated August 3, 2007, that Rolando would be hiring truck drivers, line crews, and various sorts of managers. There follows many more instances of missed target dates with reasons for the missed dates ranging from equipment not being delivered on time, installers of said equipment being on another job and replacing Rolando on the back-burner, then there were some questions concerning the water well’s quality of water, outcome not determined as yet. I believe I may have stumbled  onto one of the salient causes of the disparity of timing on this project. In the November 2, 2007, edition of The Panolian, Butler spoke of the opening schedule, “it’s opening as we said it would open.” Later in the interview, he acknowledged the company has failed to meet its target date. In the February 26, 2008, issue of The Panolian during a meeting of County Supervisors, Supervisor Avant advised the Board that Roland Butler would not be present at the meeting as had been planned. Roland Butler had communicated to Supervisor Avant he had missed a flight from Maryland. We the citizens and taxpayers of this State and County gave Roland Butler a factory building and 10 acres of Mississippi property. This was 2006 and Roland Butler agreed to open a manufacturing facility with a proposed work force of about 300. Gave it to him. As I understand it, instead of the 300 proposed jobs, only a few are working at the plant. Two of the few employees are a former Crenshaw Alderman and one of Supervisor Robert Avant’s sons.

Roland Butler said he missed a flight from Maryland. If so, it is certainly apparent some of our elected County Employees have missed the bus.

Ben Marberry,