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Hundreds of new jobs possible in Leitchfield

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Meat processing plant would make snack foods

By DEANNA LASLEY
Landmark News Service

More than 400 jobs could be added to Leitchfield’s industrial numbers in the next two years with construction of a meat production facility.

John D. Bulicek, Patrick A. Toth and Chuck Pharr have visited Leitchfield several times since October to negotiate construction of a facility that would produce snack foods.

E&E Renewable Energy LLC, a company incorporated last week, would produce high-protein snacks such as beef jerky and pork rinds under the name Kentucky Snack Foods.

“We’re going to change the world with what we are doing,” Bulicek said.

Bulicek, president of Bulicek and Co., a financer, addressed the city of Leitchfield’s holding company after it agreed to secure a $700,000 loan for the purchase of an anaerobic digester, which would be required by the facility.

The digester would process the remains of livestock slaughtered daily. It would produce methane gas that could be sold to a utility company as green energy, and provide more than half the electricity needed at the meat production facility.

The digester, which costs $14 million, also would take on whey from Bel Cheese, a long-time manufacturer in Leitchfield, and some sewage from the northwestern part of the city, Mayor William H. Thomason said.

The city’s loan of $700,000 is 5 percent of the total cost of the equipment. The amount would be reimbursed by E&E Renewable Energy LLC after it receives an anticipated $4.4 million federal grant.

The grant is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and would reimburse 30 percent to the company — or $4.4 million — of the total cost of the equipment.

Because paperwork for the grant had to be submitted by Dec. 31, the company and city council acted with urgency at year’s end. Council members met in executive session Dec. 28-29, debating the business and the loan.

The council approved taking out the loan.

By law, the city is not allowed to borrow money it can’t repay within 12 months. For amounts that exceed the 12-month borrowing period, such as the cost of a fire engine, the city’s holding company applies for the loan.

Thomason said the city applied for a different grant to fund a similar digester for the cheese plant. That money will be put toward this digester, which is double the size of the original one proposed.

The digester would be built before the plant at the back of property on Ky. 54 in Leitchfield. It would span the length of a football field and be 20 feet deep. The structure would take two years to build and would be made of concrete with baffles inside.

Area farmers could benefit from the new industry by selling livestock to the facility for production.

The facility would use 1.2 million gallons of water a day, half of which would be recycled daily.

The number of jobs created could increase to 700 at full capacity. The plant then would be able to slaughter up to 1,500 cows or 2,500 sows daily.

“Plants like this just can’t pick up and leave,” Bulicek said. “We’ll be in partnership for a long time.”