Leitchfield officials confirmed Monday, Oct. 15, what had been rumored for months: Kentucky Snack Foods will not be building a meat processing plant off Highway 54 on the city’s west side
The city council voted unanimously to purchase 100 acres slated for the plant for $500,000 from Vince and Louise Escue, with the sale set for 9 a.m. Tuesday. That’s the same price the city charged the couple back in February, when they bought the land for Kentucky Snack Foods.
The Escues were supposed in the the spring to sell about half the land, known as the Wallace Farm, back to KSF subsidiary E & E Renewable Energy LLC. E & E was the entity applying for federal grant funding to help pay for a $14 million anaerobic digester to help treat the proposed plant’s sewage discharge.
But that sale apparently never happened, and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes’ office “administratively dissolved” E & E on Sept. 11 after the company failed to file a required report with the state.
The News-Gazette has tried multiple times since mid-September to contact KSF president John Bulicek about the situation, but calls and messages have not been returned.
Leitchfield/Grayson County Industrial Recruiter Dudley Cooper said Monday that the company has “not advanced the project anywhere elese” in Kentucky, and remains interested in locating in Leitchfield, but had some “issues” with the land and whether a bypass of Highway 259 would be built around Leitchfield’s west side.
Cooper said the company is still looking at Kentucky as a possible location, and has been scoping out potential plant sites along the Western Kentucky Parkway.
Early in the process, KSF had said a key to building the plant would securing funding for a $14 million anaerobic digester to help treat the waste it would produce. They said the digester, which would be the length of a football field and buried 20 feet underground, would basically act as a sort of large-scale, covered compost pot for biodegradable waste – everything from manure to animal carcasses.
Leitchfield was eyeing the digester for use for whey from Bel Cheese and some sewage from the northwestern part of the city, and had pledged $250,000 in grant funds Cooper and city utilities supervisor Kevin Pharis had previously secured for a digester for Bel Cheese.
Cooper said Monday that KSF “found out that digester had been oversold” and that the plant wouldn’t necessarily have required something so large.
He also said he’s been told federal funding could possibly be available again if Leitchfield wanted to pursue a digestor for Bel Cheese, but Bel’s gradual change to making the company’s Laughing Cow Wedges will reduce its whey output.
KSF had said it was eyeing Leitchfield as a site for a “state of the art” processing plant that would make jerky, pork rinds and other high-protein snacks. Company officials had said it would eventually employ about 700 workers, with hourly wages of about $15.