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franklin county times

Business backs out for PC

After a May 18 city council meeting, everything seemed set in stone for American Barrel Company to relocate to Phil Campbell.

The next day, the deal quickly turned, as the plans to relocate to Phil Campbell came to a swift halt.

“He was ready to sign the papers that afternoon,” said Phil Campbell Mayor Mike McQuary.

McQuary said the owner of American Barrel Company came down to inspect the building before purchasing. After testing the concrete thickness, it was determined the concrete would not be thick enough to hold the machines for manufacturing.

After this inspection, the owner of American Barrel Company, based in Illinois, declined to purchase the building.

“We can’t blame him for deciding not to purchase,” McQuary said. “We have been working on this for about five months, trying to get him to move down to Phil Campbell, so for something like this to fall through after you’ve put in the work is disheartening.”

The council had approved a 10-year tax abatement and rezoned the building the business would move into, at 258 Highway 63 in Phil Campbell.

The company, who produces custom rifle barrels, was expected to bring a $1.3 million capital investment to Franklin County, hire at least five employees locally within the next three years and partner with local schools to train future employees.

“I think they are going to grow here, and I think they will grow rapidly,” Franklin County Development Authority executive director Sherye Price said Tuesday, prior to the deal falling through.

In other city business, the council also discussed replacing several street signs that are either missing or in disrepair.

“I have heard so many complaints about signs, but it is something we have never really addressed,” said city clerk Virginia Burks.

Burks said there is a long list of needed signs, several in areas that are dangerous because of the missing signs.

“I definitely think this is something we need to address, but we need a list and prices of everything first so we know what we are approving,” said Councilman Jeremy Kastberg.

Councilwoman Lynn Landers suggested the city look into the price of a machine to make the signs themselves because of the large number of signs needed.

“This is something I know other towns do, so I don’t see why we couldn’t look into that,” Landers said.

All signs in Phil Campbell are currently made by the Franklin County Highway Department.

Kastberg requested Burks put together more information for the council on pricing and a list of signs in need of replacement for the next council meeting.

“We need to address this, but I also think we need to have more information in front of us so that we can make an educated decision,” Kastberg said.

Also on the agenda for the night, the city council approved the hiring of Jessica Clements as Phil Campbell police chief, conditional upon a six-month probation period.

Clements was the only full-time police officer in Phil Campbell. She has been serving as interim police chief since the resignation of former chief Joe Fike in March.