A family-owned manufacturing company that wholesales landscape bark products to larger retailers across the south plans to invest $10 million and bring at least 20 jobs — if not more — to the Crothersville area.

Andy Johnson, vice president of operations for Sims Bark, outlined the company’s plans to began operations on a 56.684-acre site next to Interstate 65 during Tuesday night’s meeting of the Jackson County Plan Commission at the courthouse annex.

The site, off U.S. 31 on County Road 1150E, is owned by James L. Puckett and presently is zoned general business. A special exception is being sought by Sims to change zoning to industrial.

The company’s request, which received a favorable recommendation from the plan commission, now moves on to the Jackson County Board of Zoning Appeals. That board plans a special meeting for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the courthouse annex, 220 E. Walnut St., Brownstown. The meeting will include a public hearing to allow for comments on the proposal.

Seymour attorney Jeff Lorenzo, representing the Tuscumbia, Alabama-based company, which also has operations in Brent, Alabama; Olive Branch, Mississippi; Woodbury, Georgia; Bowman, South Carolina; and Corbin, Kentucky, plans to purchase wood byproducts from local sawmill operations and convert it into bark mulch.

The mulch would be marketed to retailers such as Walmart and Lowe’s in south central Indiana and western Ohio.

Johnson said the site would be receiving roughly 25 truckloads of materials such as bark, slabs or other things the sawmills couldn’t use each day. During peak times of the year, as many as 100 trucks might visit the site, which would be operational throughout the year. The company also sells soil and rock products.

Plan commissioner member Travis Norman asked Johnson if the company used any chemicals that could create a fire danger.

Johnson said Sims did not use chemicals, and the only additive used is pigment-based dyes to make colored mulch. He said the company also limits the time it takes to get the material prepared and into bags for shipment so they do not have a lot of time to stack up.

There also are three fire hydrants near the site, plan commission member Sherry Bridges said. She lives in the Crothersville area.

A public utility line also is nearby, but the company is planing to use a well to supply water for its operations, Johnson said.

Lorenzo said the company has yet to decide if a septic tank would be installed to handle sanitation needs for bathrooms and a breakroom or if the site would be hooked to Crothersville’s wastewater treatment system.

The company also is considering landscaping and berms or both along County Road 1150E and roads adjoining the property, including U.S. 31.

Bridges said she was in favor of the project because it would enhance the area and bring jobs, a position supported by other board members, including Norman, John Nolting and Curt Wischmeier.

When questioned about the project timeline Wednesday morning, Johnson said he would have liked to have started yesterday, but the plan is to begin construction June 1 and be in full production by Jan. 1.

He also said the company plans to hire all of its help locally, including the manager, and could eventually hire as many as 40 people depending upon how the business grows.

There might be some additional part-time help during the early part of each year, and there is a possibility of having retail from the site, Johnson said.

“Some of our others have retail, and some don’t,” he said.
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