Evergreen, Lake Junaluska measures get encouraging news
A bill tailored to provide the Canton paper mill a total of $12 million in state assistance over a six-year period to help with environmental upgrades sailed through the N.C. Senate Thursday with a 48-0 vote.
Sen. Jim Davis, R-Franklin, said $10 million was added to a state law known as the Job Maintenance and Capital Development (JMAC) fund, and several provisions were changed to make environmental upgrade projects in more prosperous counties eligible for the funds under certain conditions.
While Senate Bill 3 mentions nothing about Evergreen Packaging in Canton, the wording was purposely crafted to fit the needs of the long-time Haywood County manufacturer, said Davis, a primary sponsor of the bill.
“The company has been in Canton more than 100 years, provides good jobs with good benefits, and is struggling to meet environmental regulations being placed on them,” Davis said. “Helping them was really a no-brainer.”
Senate Bill 3 states businesses can be eligible for funding if it manufactures or is investing in pollution controls or transitioning from using coal to using natural gas. Additionally, the business must be willing to invest $50 million in private funds in the improvement and employ at least 800 full-time or contract employees.
Davis said is it never good to be over-confident, but believes the measure will pass the house and be signed into law by the governor.
Evergreen Packaging has plans to convert some of its electricity needs from coal to natural gas to satisfy requirements requiring a reduction of toxic air emissions. To do that, a larger natural natural gas pipeline in needed in the county, an effort toward which Haywood County has pledged a total of $700,000 over a two-year period.
Lake Junaluska annexation
Davis has been assisting Lake Junaluska and Waynesville with their joint effort for the town to annex property around Lake Junaluska. The measure has passed the Senate, and is thus eligible to be considered by this house during the so-called short session this year.
Davis said he spoke with the speaker of the house on Thursday about the measure.
“The speaker assured me it would get a fair hearing, and I anticipate it will get through,” Davis said.