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Proppant plant in Gladstone may be ready by 2013

Press Photo by April Baumgarten Shannon Nelson, CARBO Ceramics North American distributing manager, shows plans for a proppant facility during a Monday meeting at the Gladstone Knights of Columbus.

GLADSTONE -- Traffic and jobs were among issues on the minds of about 30 people who waited an extra hour for a representatives from a Houston corporation to arrive to answer questions about a proppant distribution facility to be built near the city during an informational meeting at the Gladstone Knights of Columbus Monday. The meeting was pushed back from 7 to 8 p.m. due to a plane delay.

The facility would be built less than a mile northeast of Gladstone with the ability to hold about 100 million pounds of proppant when completed in the early part of next year, said Shannon Nelson, CARBO Ceramics North American distributing manager.

The $25 million project will be CARBO's largest distribution operation.

Proppant is a ceramic agent used to hold holes open during hydraulic fracturing, also known as "fracking," a technique for extracting oil in western North Dakota.

There was confusion on whether Stark County or Gladstone had jurisdiction over rezoning, Nelson previously told The Press. CARBO has not purchased the land for the facility and will not until the city rezones it, Nelson said.

The Stark Development Corp. unanimously gave its support to the company. CARBO has also partnered with Burlington Northern Santa Fe to access and build railroad tracks along the site. One train with 100 cars would come through once a month, Nelson added.

CARBO would hire as many local people as possible, and the facility would operate 24/7, Nelson said. He said during a March meeting that the company would hire between 16 and 25 people, but did not indicate if they would be full or part-time.

CARBO would not waste money on a facility if it wasn't sure it would be a long-term investment, Nelson said, adding he didn't think possible fracking sanctions from the Environmental Protection Agency would have an effect on CARBO's plans.

"CARBO's out $25 million," he said if the facility were to go under.

Nelson said there should be no truck traffic through town. The residents wanted more assurance than his word.

"Would you sign a contract with us, because we had some big truck companies say that before?" Gladstone resident Arles Hecker asked. "The Gladstone community is paying for their screw ups because they never did what they said."

Mayor Kurt Martin also had a tough time believing there would be no truck traffic and asked Nelson multiple questions about traffic and railroad use.

"I'm not against CARBO," Martin said. "I'm just trying to make sure this situation is all right."

Gladstone resident Jerry Haich said the facility was a great idea, adding it would create jobs.

"It would be an asset to the community," he said.