Lehman-Roberts access

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Lehman-Roberts asks city officials for access to natural gas

By John Howell

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City officials have asked Batesville Gas Department Superintendent William Wilson to calculate the cost to construct a 1.5 mile natural gas pipeline to provide fuel for Lehman-Roberts Company’s asphalt plant south on Farrish Gravel Road south of Highway 6.

Mayor Jerry Autrey brought Lehman-Roberts’ request to aldermen at an adjourned meeting Friday, March 7. Lehman-Roberts would utilize fuel from the city-owned natural gas franchise in its asphalt manufacture, replacing fuel oil, he said.

“The summer will be one of their biggest demands,” Autrey said. Hot mix asphalt is used during warm months for road construction and repair. Increased use of natural gas during the summer will help balance the city’s warm season use with cold season heating demand.

Last year the city completed a natural gas pipeline under I-55 to fuel the Superior Asphalt plant on Highway 35 and other areas on the east side of the interstate. The pipeline south along Farrish Gravel Road from the city’s existing line along Highway 6 could also serve the Helena Chemical facility that will be constructed there.

Assistant City Attorney Colmon Mitchell said that the city’s franchise from the Public Service Commission allows it to serve customers up to five miles outside city limits.

“I think it’s going to be a money-maker,” Autrey said.

In other business during Friday’s meeting:

• Aldermen approved by a 3 to 0 vote renewal of the city’s health insurance policy for city employees with Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Mississippi through the Clark Insurance Agency. Brad Clark, meeting with the mayor and aldermen on March 4, had told city officials that the renewal would save the city $167,000 in its medical insurance premium cost;

• Batesville will join in sponsorship of the annual St. Jude Bass Classic at Sardis Lake in May by providing 10 hotel rooms for tournament officials. The mayor told aldermen that 240 boats are expected for the annual Sardis Lake fishing tournament that raises money for Memphis’ St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. All participants this year will utilize lodging facilities in Batesville, he said;

Attorney Mitchell told the mayor and aldermen that state law would allow the city to provide the rooms in exchange for the favorable recognition and advertising sponsorship brings. Aldermen voted unanimously to pay for the room from tourism tax proceeds.

• Aldermen agreed by 4 to 0 vote to replace sidewalks on city property adjoining the Lester Street elderly apartments that are being refurbished by the Wishcamper Company. The contractor is rebuilding sidewalks at the facility to be compliant with use under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The sidewalks on city-owned property adjoining the apartment sidewalks will be rebuilt also to comply with ADA standards. The city will seek bids from contractors, including the contractor rebuilding the Wishcamper sidewalks;

• Alderman Eddie Nabors reminded fellow city officials that they had agreed to provide city-owned vehicle mileage and usage figures to determine whether conversion to natural gas fuel would be feasible.

Mayor Autrey chaired the Friday meeting after having been sidelined by the flu for Tuesday’s meeting. 

Aldermen Nabors, Bill Dugger and Teddy Morrow attended as did Alderman Ted Stewart, who arrived after the meeting started. Alderman Stan Harrison did not attend the Friday morning meeting.