The president of the baking company that plans to put a new plant in Versailles took questions Friday from residents concerned about drainage and other issues.
More than 70 people turned out to hear Bill Quigg, president of Richmond Baking in Indiana, in the meeting at the Woodford County Courthouse.
Quigg announced in February that Big Sink Road will be the site for a new industrial bakery that will make cookies and snack crackers. The plant will be called More Than a Bakery LLC, and will eventually employ more than 300 people.
“My hope is today we can walk away with a legal pad full of ideas and say, ‘Gosh, we didn’t think of that,’” Quigg told the crowd. “The good news is this bakery is on paper. It doesn’t exist yet. So we have all sorts of opportunities to do things that are important to this community, to make sure that we do it right.”
Some residents who live nearby said they fear the plant will increase traffic and drainage problems such as standing water on the roads. “This has a deep impact on all of us,” said Margie Stone.
Quigg said the plant will not worsen flooding in the area. “We can’t fix it, either. We hope to make it incrementally better than before we got there,” he said.
“I’m concerned about the devaluing of our property with a factory right across the street,” said Stonegate subdivision resident Mindy Fiala. “I’m also curious why you chose that particular area.”
“Because we didn’t necessarily want to be in an industrial park,” Quigg said. “We love the location. We love the look of it. ... My point is we did not want a square box in a field, we did not want a square box in an industrial park that looked like everything else.”
“But it’s still going to be a box in a field,” Fiala said.
Quigg said the plant will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Construction of the plant’s first phase will start in July and should be operating by November 2017.
Greg Janzow, chief operating officer for Richmond Baking, said the Versailles plant’s first phase will be about 230,000 square feet, but will eventually expand to 400,000 square feet. The ovens for the plant will be about 300 feet long.
Hampton “Hoppy” Henton, a local farmer, said the company could enhance its presence by buying local wheat.
“That would go a long way toward helping facilitate agriculture and being a good neighbor in our community,” Henton said.
“Point well taken,” Quigg said.
Versailles City Council member Gary Jones, a former teacher and recreation director, thanked Quigg for bringing jobs to the city.
Jones said the black population is declining in Woodford County because “there are no jobs here.”
On Tuesday, Versailles City Council is scheduled to give first reading to an ordinance that will exempt the bakery company from city ad valorem taxes for five years “with certain conditions.” That was part of the incentive package to get the company to locate in Versailles.
Cookie samples were available for audience members to taste. Many of the company’s products “go to schoolkids all over the country,” Quigg said. “We literally feed the kids at schools from California to Maine.”