In Dec. 25 IssueBy Greg WellsTimes Journal Managing Editor
“‘You guys want to sell that rock quarry,’” Jerry Loy said was the question he got from Russell County Judge Mickey Garner last October.
Loy said he was suspicious at the question and asked why the sudden interest in the property. He said Garner told him he simply wanted to buy it.
"Mr Newell with Redi-mix approached me about two-weeks later about leasing the property for a concrete batch plant," Loy said.
For his part Garner has stated that he never approached Loy to purchase the property.
Last week there was something of an impromptu meeting at the property. Loy said he was aware of it only because he saw it from his car.
Loy said he found Garner, another local property owner and a magistrate all talking to the people at Pyles Concrete, the firm which ended up leasing his family's property for a concrete plant.
He said it seemed for all the world that Garner was working to make it hard on Pyles to operate the plant that is bring built to supply the work at Wolf Creek Dam.
"'We're going to stop them,'" was how Loy characterized a statement by the other property in referring to Pyles. He said that man, who has also offered property for the plant but didn't win is and has been a strong supporter of Garner's political activities.
Loy said Pyles' staff offered to provide a bond for the county road which he said Garner was refusing to let the company use. He said that was refused and that this week the company is planning of leaving the property and going directly onto U.S. 127 rather than using the county road.
For his part Garner said he was there simply to express concern over the use and possible damage to the county road.
"Garner is making things difficult for them," Loy said. When asked why he thought that was he said he felt the County Judge-Executive was using his office to punish a company that didn't locate their operations on either property he could buy or on property owned by a political ally.
"At least that's my interpretation," he summed up.
Garner denies the offer to purchase the property, and said the gathering was simply to see to it that the company posted a bond for repairs to the county road.
An official with Pyles refused an opportunity to make any comment on the meeting or anything coming out of it.
Steve Bledsoe, the magistrate at the meeting, said he was simply concerned with what would happen to the county road if all the concrete trucks were rolling over it.
Bledsoe said that in the end it would be more cost effective for the company's trucks to enter directly onto U.S. 127 and thereby avoid any bonding or repair costs to the county road.
"My concerns with being there were strictly for the county road and the public's tax dollars," Bledsoe said.
He added that he has no knowledge about Loy's statement that Garner had tried to purchase the land. He also said he wasn't aware whether the land owner who he said brought the concerns about the county road to Garner's attention had or hadn't offered property to the company.
Loy said the concrete company has opted to bypass the county road and apply to the state for permission to leave his property directly onto the highway.