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Diana Foods to be sold

A major new industrial facility at Banks Crossing is being sold following action by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Diana Food, a chicken-based food ingredient facility that just recently began operations, is being sold to Kerry Luxembourg by Symrise AG. The sale comes after the Department of Justice forced Symrise to divest itself of the Diana Foods facility if the firm wanted to buy International Dehydrated Foods LLC and American Dehydrated Foods LLC, a reported $900 million deal.

"Without the divestiture, the combined company would control over 75 percent of the domestic market for the manufacture and sale of chicken-based food ingredients," the justice department said.

The Diana Food facility was the result of a a joint project between Banks County and the City of Commerce which led to the $50 million investment at Banks Crossing. It was announced in 2017 for a 40-acre site and a 90,000 sq. ft. building and opened in October 2018. It is one of Banks County's largest industrial projects and was called a "grand slam" by county leaders when it was announced.

The Banks County Board of Commissioners and the Banks County Development Authority approved transferring the Diana Food lease and bond arrangements to Kerry in called meetings last week.

The move by Symrise to sell Diana Food means the new merged firm will be competing with the Diana facility under Kerry's ownership.

"Kerry is a global manufacturer of ingredients and recipe solutions for the food and beverage industry," the Department of Justice said in a news release. "This divestiture ensures that the buyer of the Banks County facility will be well positioned to compete vigorously with the merged company in the manufacture and sale of chicken-based food ingredients in the United States."

Kerry Group was founded in 1972 and  is based in County Kerry, Ireland. It is involved in a number of food-related products in the U.K. and other places around the world and employees around 25,000 people.

The firm has one other location in the U.S. located in Beloit, Wisconsin.

Historic courthouse open house held

The Banks County Board of Commissioners and the Banks County Historical Society held a reception Friday afternoon to showcase the restoration of the Historic Courthouse. Music by Phil Brooks played in the background as guests wandered on the grounds and through the ground level and upstairs courtroom to check out the renovations.

The restoration project included the following:

•Roof leaks were corrected. Gutters and downspouts were crushed and detached from the building and were reshaped and reattached. The downspouts were elongated to pull draining water away from the building.

•An attic fan was added because there was no venting in the attic. The original roof was shingles which allowed some venting through it. The replaced and current roof is metal which does not allow for venting. Installing a fan helps to keep the attic cooled.

•There was a water issue on the front east side of the building causing water to seep into the walls. A surface water drain was installed to pull the water away from the building.

•Hand-made bricks like the ones on the courthouse are porous. Dehumidifiers were installed in all downstairs rooms and in the vault to help pull the humidity out. There is also one which was placed upstairs.

•The treading on the outside stairs were repaired and the railing was reinforced. The support post on the east side was rotting; it was replaced.

•Shutters were taken down, repaired and rotten slats were replaced. The shutters were green on the west side of the building and black on the east side; some were installed upside down. They are all now uniform and painted the same color.

•Windows were reglazed, scraped and recaulked. Broken panes were replaced.

•All woodwork outside was repaired. Rotting facia boards along the back were replaced and everything was painted.

•Inside walls were repaired of all cracks, peeling paint was scraped and the entire inside was painted.

•Air conditioning units were repaired and put in working order.

•Electrical issues were addressed and corrected.

Angie Gary / Photo by Ben Munro 

Griffin Stephens receives a big hug after winning the Class AA individual cross country title Saturday, Nov. 2, in Carrollton. Stephens completed the course in 16:44.15, edging out Bleckley County’s Garrett Rogers by .06 seconds for the title. The boys’ team finished fourth overall in state.

Planners recommend denial of rezoning for apartment complex

The Banks County Planning Commission unanimously recommended denial of a request to rezone property at Banks Crossing from C-2 (General Commercial) to R2 (Multi-Family Housing) to locate apartments on the site.

The Banks County Board of Commissioners will take action on the request when it meets at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 12, at the Annex Building in Homer. The planning commission makes recommendations to the BOC.

Mark Walton with Green River Builders presented the plans, stating that the original plans had been changed to reduce the number of three-bedroom apartments. He said this was done so that there would be less of an impact on the school system. He said the new plans project 80 additional school children in the area. The total number of apartments is 360. The average rental price would be $1,200 per month. He said that the City of Commerce would provide the water and sewer to the development. He added that it would be a $42 million, five-year project that would be developed in three phases.

Planning commission member Brian Mathis said, “We’ve already approved one (apartment complex in the area) and we don’t know what the impact will be. Let’s see the impact will be before we approve another one. In my personal opinion, it’s too early to approve another one We don’t know what’s going to happen with the one that’s coming in.”

In other action, the planning commission:

•recommended denial of a request from Thai Bui to rezone property on Felton Circle from ARR (agriculture rural residential) to CAD (consolidated agricultural district) to locate additional poultry houses. The current zoning allows six poultry houses. The change would allow two additional poultry houses. The BOC will also take action on this request Nov. 12.

•recommended approval of a request from Stephanie Meiburg for a variance to separate two parcels of 1.99 acres to allow an additional residence.


Incumbents win in Maysville

The incumbents were re-elected in Maysville Tuesday with 34 percent of the voters casting ballots.

In the mayor’s race, incumbent Richard Presley was the winner with 240 votes. Challenger Lynn Villyard, a former member of the city council received 153 votes.

In the Ward 2 race on the city council, incumbent Junior Hardy was re-elected with 74 votes. Challenger Susan Cooley received 57 votes.