An area hatchery expects to hire 30 more workers and get new equipment to produce more chickens with help from a tax abatement the Calhoun County Commission approved on Thursday.
The commission agreed to a 10-year, $92,000 tax abatement for Koch Farms on Old Downing Mill Road, just outside Anniston’s city limits. With the extra money, the company can upgrade its decades-old equipment to become more efficient and create 30 new jobs, company officials say.
The commission approved the abatement of sales, use and property taxes during its regular Thursday meeting.
Don Hopper, executive director of the Calhoun County Economic Development Council, said that Koch would invest approximately $7.1 million to expand and improve the hatchery, which produces around 1 million chickens a week.
“We’re proud that they’re here and proud that they’re able to make this $7.1 million investment,” Hopper said.
Chuck Moore, live operations manager for Koch, said the company planned to replace 50-year-old equipment.
“This will allow us to better clean and disinfect and have a better baby chick,” Moore said.
Also during the meeting, the commission approved an agreement for a $478,000 grant from the Alabama Department of Corrections to help with overcrowding in the Calhoun County Jail. County officials announced in July that a request for the grant money had been approved.
“I’ve asked for help and y'all came to the table,” Sheriff Matthew Wade said to the commissioners at the meeting. “And I want to thank Sen. Del Marsh for helping, because this is an emergency.”
Wade said the county jail has struggled with overcrowding for some time. As of Thursday morning, the county jail had 501 male inmates. The jail is built to hold around 400 inmates, Wade said.
Also, the Anniston city jail had 143 women inmates from the county on Tuesday. The county recently started leasing the jail from the city to hold its women prisoners to reduce the overcrowding problem.
“When you pack human beings in an area like that, it causes issues,” Wade said. “There’s more fighting and it makes it harder to maintain control.”
Wade said the details were still being worked out on how the grant money would be spent.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to do something to attract and retain corrections officers,” Wade said about the money. “And more inmates cost more to feed and provide medical care for ... we’re looking at that.”
Wade noted that the grant money was still a short-term fix for the overcrowding.
“This is a long-term problem that needs a long-term solution,” he said.