With the assistance of a low-interest government loan, Boxley Materials Company plans to expand its Mill Point limestone production facility to include the production of agricultural lime. The company currently operates three rock crushing machines at the site, which work in succession to produce rocks of smaller size. The new machine, called a cage mill, will take the process one step further and pulverize small gravel into agricultural lime.
Boxley Director of Technical Services Tom Roller said the new machine will not create any nuisance or environmental hazard.
“If we are a nuisance, it’s taking the big rocks and making them a little smaller, which we currently do,” he said. “You take a four-foot rock and break it, it’s a lot louder than taking a quarter-inch rock and breaking it.”
Roller said the cage mill will be enclosed inside a building.
“As far as airborne dust, it’s going to have a state-of-the-art dust suppression system,” he said. “The dust needs to stay in the plant, because that is the product. Everything is enclosed. Once it hits this portion of the plant, it shouldn’t see sunlight, and we’re going to build a storage building to store it in. We certainly don’t want the wind catching it. That would defeat our purposes and, obviously, would become a nuisance. The last thing we want to do is be a nuisance.”
Boxley currently employs 10 delivery drivers and eight plant workers at Mill Point. Roller said no new jobs will be created due to expanded production.
“We think we can do it with the manpower we got,” he said. “We would rather look at it as a way to sustain a job, moreso than create a job. We feel very comfortable in the fact that it’s going to sustain some jobs.”
Roller said the availability of lime will be a benefit to local farmers.
“I was born and raised on a farm, myself, and I know that in the farming industry here in Pocahontas County, you have to leave the county to get products to do the job,” he said. “In a lot of cases, you have to leave the state to get products. We have a resource right here that will do the job. We hope to make some additional revenue on it, but it’s also a community need. It’s a project I’ve been working on for 10 years, along with local folks, trying to save the local farmer a buck or two.”
Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation (GVEDC) Executive Director Steve Weir said a loan package had been approved for Boxley to purchase equipment.
“It’s a half-million dollars, and it’s for, basically, the equipment,” he said. “The project’s larger than that. The project is more than double that size. But our portion of it will be used for equipment, because it’s taxpayer dollars and it’s a fixed asset.”
Weir described the public purpose that justifies the loan.
“There’s a couple things, first of all – employment,” he said. “From our discussions with Boxley, there won’t be any new jobs, but they’ll be taking people from part-time to full-time, which is a big thing for a lot of people. The other thing is, it’s a new enterprise in Pocahontas County. It’s an expansion and anytime you can expand business, that’s a plus.
“The third thing is that we are providing locally, a product to our farmers for them to use. Most farmers use and apply lime all year round. Generally, the high points are in the spring and fall, but it’s a year-round thing. The fact that we can make a local product available to our local agricultural community is a plus.”
Weir said the loan idea originated at the Greenbrier Valley Soil Conservation District.
“The start of that was with the local soils conservation group,” he said. “They were working with Senators [Walt] Helmick, at that time, and [Ronald] Miller. Now, of course, Walt Helmick is the Agriculture Commissioner. So, that’s how it started – with those conversations with local farmers about the availability of lime. We were asked to be part of it after those conversations took place.”
Weir said the loan was structured in a complicated manner. Initially, $500,000 will be provided to the GVEDC from the Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council (IJDC). The Legislature will pay back the IJDC, after July 1, with an appropriation from a former $8.2 million Marlinton flood protection project fund, that was withdrawn by the state last year. Finally, the GVEDC will provide a low-interest loan of $500,000 to Boxley. Interest from the loan will be provided to the soil conservation district.
Mill Point Plant Supervisor Howard Walker said the company hopes to have the new lime plant operational by this fall. The supervisor said the new plant will be built adjacent to the site’s three operational rock crushers and will not expand the site footprint.
Walker is a member of Boxley’s “Green Team,” that works to establish best practices with regard to the environment. The supervisor said Boxley’s upper management places a high priority on environmental stewardship and that the plant has never been cited for an environmental violation under Boxley ownership.
“We meet all requirements from the DEP [Department of Environmental Protection], any type of federal regulation and then, in any case possible, exceeding those standards,” he said. “It’s on our property, we keep it on our property – that’s a huge emphasis.”
Boxley provides information on its Green Team and environmental philosophy at the company website at boxley.com.