Biodiesel plant gets OK

By Jean Verlich: CNJ News Editor

The Clovis City Commission approved an agreement at Thursday’s meeting with ARES Corp. for construction of a $17.5 million bio-diesel plant at the Clovis Industrial Park.

The deal includes the donation of 10 acres of land at the industrial park valued at about $100,000 and construction of water and sewer pipelines costing an estimated $725,000.

Under the agreement, ARES Corp. will employ at least 10 full-time employees for 10 years and construct a water pipeline as well as a connecting sewer pipeline. The city and ARES agreed to explore joint development of the lines.

“We could oversize (the pipelines) such that they might be of benefit to other tenants in the park,” ARES General Manager Gerry Runte told commissioners.

Construction of the 15-million-gallon-a-year bio-diesel plant is to begin no later than December 2007, with production to begin no later than January 2008, the agreement reads.

Commissioners also gave ARES the right of first refusal to buy an additional 10 acres of land.

Should ARES cease operation within five years, it must pay the city $50,000, according to the agreement.

Clovis Industrial Development Corp. requested $1 million in capital outlay funds from the city “to engineer, design and construct a rail spur and switches, as well as expand utility infrastructure and roads” at the industrial park, according to a CIDC news release.

ARES said in the agreement that the fuel products will be distributed by Blue Sun Biodiesel, a Colorado company.

In a study session following the meeting, commissioners heard from Buxton Group Eastern Region Vice President Joe Fackel about strategies for building a retail base. Fackel defined a 30-minute-drive trade area around the city with 62,348 people and a retail trade potential of $784 million.

Also during Thursday’s meeting, commissioners:
• Approved Moby LLC of Farwell subleasing a portion of its hangar at Clovis Municipal Airport to Southwest Med Evac to operate a medical evacuation helicopter operation. Southwest Med Evac, based in Las Cruces, plans to begin operations by mid-November, according to documents filed with the city.

• Heard from Clovis Civic Center General Manager Neil McMullen report on business for the July-to-September quarter. McMullen said revenues of $138,517 exceeded the budgeted amount of $90,529 by 53 percent.

He said 86 percent of income at the center has been derived from banquets, which account for 41 percent of events.

McMullen said October looks as if it will be the highest for revenues to date, and October and November revenues should exceed budgets.

• Heard from Curt Johnson, a spokesman for ConAgra Trade Group, that a public information meeting will be held Nov. 9 at the Clovis Civic Center to discuss the Clovis ethanol project.

n Wholey Cow Deli was presented the first Downtown Pride Award by Clovis Downtown.