neshobademocrat.com – Several capital projects currently underway at Weyerhaeuser promise to transform an already productive operation into a top performer for years to come while placing a greater reliance on a dependable transportation system, company officials said.
The company announced a $57 million capital investment at its Philadelphia lumber mill last summer.
Construction is currently in progress with plans to install a new planer mill, two continuous direct fired kilns and sort and stacking equipment. A 38,000 square-foot facility to house the planer mill will also be built.
Weyerhaeuser officials, along with Gov. Phil Bryant, state, county and city leaders, said last summer they would modernize the Philadelphia mill as the state announced funding for the Williamsville connector road which would run just south of town near the mill.
Mill Manager Stan Webb said last week that more than 50,000 trucks a year move in and out of the mill located on the city’s southside, and the connector road would relieve any traffic issues as truck drivers continually make their way through the city to get to Weyerhaeuser.
“That’s 100,000 trips on local roadways and highways,” Webb said. “Government officials have taken notice of Weyerhaeuser’s commitment to the mill and are building new roads and highways which will help eliminate transportation bottleneck. Without their help our investment may not have happened.”
Weyerhaeuser has not made a major upgrade to its Philadelphia facility since a sawmill was installed in 1997 and a planer mill in 1974.
Jerry Magliolo, a project manager with the company’s engineering services, said the new planer mill will improve productivity because it “can outpace the capacity of the old one.”
The new kilns will comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s stricter boiler emission standards which go into effect January 2016. The kilns will also be more energy efficient, less costly to maintain and process more lumber at a faster rate.
Construction is expected to be completed over the next year.
Webb said the construction on the site has not created any distractions for his crew of employees and has had the opposite effect calling the morale “incredible.”
“In fact, the saw mill and planer mill recently broke several productivity records in the middle of all this,” he said. “It’s a testament of the team’s work ethic and ability to focus. There’s no doubt they’ll even do better with more.”
While no new jobs are being created, company officials said the modernization will maintain the company’s about 180 jobs.
Monte Simpson, Weyerhaeuser’s Governmental and Community Relations Manager, had said Weyerhaeuser chose to modernize the Philadelphia mill because of the competence displayed by Webb and his team.
Recently, the state has given $5.3 million in right-of-way purchases, paving the way to eventual construction of the Williamsville connector road.
The state already owns much of the right-of-way, but there are some large landowners from whom land still must be purchased.
The four-lane connector project will cost an estimated $80 to $100 million.
Rep. C. Scott Bounds estimated nearly $17 million will be needed acquire all rights-of-way.
The roadway, discussed for about 30 years, would connect from the four-lane at Williamsville to Mississippi 19 south and eventually to Mississippi 16 east.
Mississippi 21 would also be relocated north from Fairview to Mississippi 16.