Grain loading site approved

Anderson Inc. has their eyes on Custer County. They would like to build an elevator and 124 car shuttle train loading facility off State Highway 2 east of Anselmo on the BNSF line. The company, represented by Jim Cripe, formally asked the Board of Supervisors Tuesday morning for a zoning variance so that they can move forward with the project. The land is currently zoned Ag. The project received its approval from the Custer County Zoning Commission last week. The facility, Cripe explained, will have storage for 3.5 million bushels of grain, with an estimated annual volume of 13-20 million bushels. They anticipate hiring 7-10 full time employees. “We have an option to purchase the property, but we haven’t closed,” said Cripe. The property is owned by Jason and Connie Chandler. Five acres will be sectioned off to remain in their ownership. Cripe said that the company commissioned a study on where they might possibly build a facility such as this, and this study led them to Custer County. “We asked them to show us the counties in the corn belt,” said Cripe, “And then we asked them to show us where there are counties that export more corn than is used ... we started looking for the critical mass pockets in Nebraska then looked at a 50 mile radius of where the corn flows.” Cripe went on to say that “No place in Nebraska does grain, not fed locally, move further down the road.” They first looked for a site where the tracks are not near the highway, but that, quite frankly, didn’t exist, he said. He said there are still township road issues to be solved. Don Cantrell said that as a grower, he is really excited about the possibilities of the project. “Look at the thousands of trucks going down the highway. This should increase the base. there are 42 million bushels of corn grown in Custer County and if it saved the grower even a dime a bushel, that is a tremendous project for Custer County. The projected start date for the project is some time this fall They would like to be up and running in time for the fall 2012 harvest. Environmental and site studies are currently being conducted. The decision as to whether this is a go or no go will be made right after Labor Day. “We’ve been working on this for a very long time,” said Cripe. Current cost estimates are between $15-20 million. Liz Babcock, president of the Custer Economic Development Corporation added that the CEDC supports the project. “Everyone in CEDC thinks it would be a great project.” Anderson Inc. is a publically traded company.