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Work on Jackson solar panel plant well underway

 

By JACK WEATHERLY 

The conversion of an 80,000-square-foot building in Jackson is well down the road toward completion as a factory for solar panels.

Seraphim Solar Manufacturing USA announced recently that it would start making the panels in November.

Beyond that, the company and the city of Jackson have not revealed anything else about the facility at 3111 Lawson St.

City spokeswoman Shelia Byrd said in July that the city was in final negotiations with the firm, which also stands to get incentives from the Mississippi Development Authority.

Byrd said last week that “we are still working on an agreement.”

A Mississippi Business Journal reporter went to the city Building and Permits Department on Monday but was told that he would have to submit a request in writ-ing to see the building permit issued to the general contractor on the project. The Journal later Monday submitted a request in writing to see the permit.

Section 25-61-5 of the Mississippi Open Records Act states that access to a public record shall be provided or denied within one and seven working days after a written request for public record is made to see the record.

A municipal spokeswoman said late Tuesday that the permit would be available on Wednesday but it had not been made available  by press time.

Meantime, the Journal has learned through other channels that A&L Construction LLC is the general contractor for the project, which Seraphim says is a $50 million investment that is expected to produce 250 jobs over the next five years.

Calls to the construction company were not returned.

A source said that equipment to produce solar panels should be arriving on the site in the next two weeks.

Records policies can vary from city to city, within the framework of the Open Records Act. Ridgeland, for instance, keeps its building permits in a book on a counter for public access, said Alan Hart, director of Community Development for Ridgeland.

If a copy is requested, there is a charge of 25 cents per page charge and an open records must be made in writing, Hart said.

George Ellmore, director of building permits and code enforcement for the city of Madison, said that a records request is also required to see a building permit or other public documents. And the speed of response to the re-quest is dictated by the complexity of the request and time involved.

If research is required, the employee’s time and pay rate are factored in, Ellmore said. For a simple two-page building permit, there is no charge and anyone with a business interest in, say, such a permit, the request could be honored in “a day or two,” and special consideration is given the news media, he said.

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