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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Eternal Beverage project progresses
Members of the Coke County Legislative Body went on record Monday evening endorsing a plan to build a road and a pad ready site to serve Eternal Beverages, a California firm which wants to open a distribution site in the new industrial park, west of Highway 25E. The acreage is owned by the Shults family. Project Aqua, according to Partnership President Lucas Graham, needs a five acre "shovel ready" site, including the necessary infrastructure for it's operation which is to employ 34 persons within three years, and more in the future. The firm bottles naturally alkaline spring water, and has purchased 15 acres of the 100 acre first phase of the park which takes in more than 700 acres. Graham had earlier said, "The overall cost of the project for Phase 1 that they have submitted to the state and TVA for incentives, is a total capital investment with equipment and the building of $11.8 million. The job creation with an average wage of just under $21 per hour, is $8 above our current county average wage." Preparing the site and constructing the 1,000 foot road from Highway 25E to the acreage, will cost an estimated $378,000. However the county currently has only $305,000 in it's industrial park fund. Graham said the county will be eligible for state and TVA reimbursement for the site preparation. And that reimbursement then can be used for preparing future "shovel-ready" sites. Plans are for the firm to purchase the acreage from the property owners, and last evening Shults Family representative, attorney Bill Shults said the needed property for the road will be donated at no cost to the county. In the future the road will be extended to serve future development. Shults told the body a trucking firm is interested in locating near the Eternal Beverage site. "I know the county can't purchase the site because the county has all kinds of issues you are dealing with. But the idea is, if we get a site and get infrastructure in there, people know we are a viable place to do business," Shults said. He added that when the new Highway 321 Bypass is constructed, "that will be one heck of a place to have a business, connected to Interstates I-40 and I-81. So we will sign the deed for the road. Bring it on, my brother and I will sign it." Jennifer Brown of the Partnership told the body that state grant money likely is not available unless the site has infrastructure or at least one firm. She said lots of companies are interested in locating in the area, but the community has no shovel ready site. The commissioners went on record supporting development of the site but did not vote to sign a contract for the work. Commissioner Dan Bright was the only member to vote against the motion. The Industrial Development Board for Newport and Cocke County will meet in the Newport City Hall at 5:30 pm, Wednesday, October 24, to discuss incentives for the project. In other action; The body delayed action on a request from Sheriff Armando Fontes to end hiring of part-time workers in the jail and instead use the $58,000 which has been placed in the county unappropriated surplus fund to give each full-time jail employee a $2,000 annual raise. The body sent that request to committee for further discussion. Mayor Crystal Ottinger reported that efforts are underway to develop five and ten year plans for the county. Members Norman Smith and Bright were appointed to the Friends of the Animal Shelter Board of Directors representing the CLB. The members also agreed to table a request from Empower Cocke County for the donation of a county owned piece of property in Parrottsville to be used to serve the needs of the homeless and to combat drug abuse.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

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