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NEW BROCKTON -- The Coffee County Commission discussed amendments to a project agreement with Ben E. Keith during its regularly scheduled meeting Monday morning.

The project agreement regards Ben E. Keith’s recently announced investment of $100 million to open “an advanced foodservice distribution center in Coffee County,” which will create 80 direct jobs over the next five years and provide an “economic boost” to New Brockton. Though the announcement was made June 26, the project itself has been in the works for quite some time under the name “Project X.”

County Administrator Rod Morgan addressed the commission Monday morning to request amendments to an existing project agreement with Ben E. Keith, which was formed before the official announcement last month. Morgan said that one amendment relates to the addition of property, some of which would be donated to Ben E. Keith providing that certain requirements are met.

“As we’ve discussed, the existing project agreement with Ben E. Keith, formerly known as Project X, needs to be amended with the acquisition of the additional property on (County Road) 516,” Morgan said. “We need to amend that project agreement to allow for access off 516. Also, provided Ben E. Keith meets certain requirements, there will be a donation of land to Ben E. Keith. The donation of land will be funded by Covington Electric Cooperative. If Ben E. Keith does not meet those requirements, they would fund the acquisition of that portion of property that they use. Those revisions are both captured in the revised project agreement.”

After the commission voted to approve a resolution authorizing the updated project agreement, Morgan proposed another resolution regarding abatements for Ben E. Keith.

“The project agreement also calls for certain abatements for Ben E. Keith; those abatements are 100% of the sales and use taxes for the construction period and 50% of the ad valorem taxes -- abatable non-educational ad valorem taxes for 20 years,” Morgan said. “I would ask the commission for a resolution authorizing the approval of these abatements.”

The commission voted to approve the resolution as requested.

Other business:

* County Engineer Marty Lentz was given permission to send out bids for gas and diesel, as the current bid has run its three-year course.

* Mary Katherine Head was appointed to the E-911 board to serve out the remaining term, which will conclude in July 2022.

* A public hearing was held regarding a request to vacate a portion of County Road 496. No further discussion was made by the public regarding the issue. The commission voted to adopt a resolution to vacate the proposed portion of County Road 496.

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