Production picks up at Dixie Pellets

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 6, 2008


Dixie Pellets is loading up barges and preparing to send them down the Alabama River as production ramps up.

“It’s only in the last few weeks that there’s been enough water to run the barge,” said startup manager Howell McBrayer.

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On Friday, company employees loaded up the barges with their product, wood pellets, which is used as alternative fuel in Europe. Those barges came from downstream in late March, towed by the Carl-T from Eagle Towing of Louisiana &8212; one of two towboats under lease to Dixie, according to Jerry Sailors, president of the Coosa-Alabama River Improvement Association.

Once the barges are loaded and the river has at least 9 feet of water for them to float, they will go to Mobile, where the pellets will be loaded onto a ship and sent overseas.

When the remaining two-thirds of the company’s operations are completed in May, McBrayer said Dixie Pellets will increase production. That means more river traffic &8212; a tow pulling four barges will be sent down the river every four-to-five days.

While Dixie Pellets helps Europe, its presence in Dallas County helps the economy. Wayne Vardaman, president of Selma-Dallas County Centre for Commerce, said, “What impacts the city is not necessarily the product, but the by products of production, employment being one of them.”