Bush Hog decision delayed

Published 12:18 am Wednesday, March 10, 2010

SELMA — Officials and employees at Bush Hog will have to wait another two weeks to see what happens to the streets around them.

A majority of the Selma City Council voted Tuesday to work on options that could see another street constructed in the area. The vote was 5-3.

Voting for closing streets around the plant were Council members Susan Keith of Ward 2, Dr. Monica Newton of Ward 3 and the Rev. Dr. Cecil Williamson of Ward 1.

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Voting to wait, meet with people from Bush Hog and the surrounding neighbors about options were Council members Corey Bowie of Ward 8, Sam Randolph of Ward 5, Angela Benjamin of Ward 4, the Rev. B.L. Tucker of Ward 6 and Bennie Ruth Crenshaw of Ward 7.

Council President Dr. Geraldine Allen was absent.

The vote came after about 1 1/2 hours of a public hearing and the end of a long council meeting during which Mayor George Evans asked the council to delay its vote.

Officials at Bush Hog want to close the streets surrounding and running through its plant site because they are afraid of an accident involving workers or people in the neighborhood.

George May, a spokesman for Bush Hog at the meeting, said security and safety stand paramount as the reasons for closing the streets.

Officials cannot secure Bush Hog, which means an expensive liability insurance rate. Bush Hog is owned by Alamo Group Inc., a publicly traded company, which seeks to reduce liability and overhead costs. It is uncertain how long Alamo will allow this plant to remain open if those streets are not closed.

But residents in the area say they lived in the area before Bush Hog arrived about 50 years ago and they’ll remain. Curtis Marks lives on Griffin Street, a portion of which would close if Bush Hog had its way. Marks said he did not want to push anyone out of a job, but he does not want his street closed off with only one way to get out or come in.

Evans proposed building another street somewhere in the vicinity to allow those on Griffin Street another route from their houses. The county, the city, Bush Hog and the Dallas County Economic Development Authority all would share in the cost of the construction, Evans said.

Tucker, who represents the area, said all the parties will come together next week to talk about a possible solution. The council is expected to take final action on the streets in two weeks.