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May 16, 2013 Issue

Buzzard Blast
Man shot in face
PyraMax plant sold to Imerys
Wadley city hall nears completion

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Buzzard Blast

Vendors from last weekend’s Buzzard Blast in Louisville included a sculptor using a chainsaw. The festival was held on Saturday at Helen Clark Memorial Park. The event helps raise funds for to beautify the city of Louisville.


Man shot in face

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Officers still do not know what led to a shooting around midnight Friday, May 10, in Wadley.

“From the information we’ve got so far, the suspect walked up on the victim and there some words back and forth between them,” said Wadley Police Chief Wesley Lewis.


The suspect, identified as 29-year-old Thomas Jeffrey Hannah of Wrens, produced a pistol and shot Terrell Harris of Wadley in the face, Lewis said.

Harris was transported to a hospital in Augusta where the chief said he underwent surgery.

“We’re still investigating,” the chief said.

Hannah was arrested shortly before 1 a.m. on Saturday, May 11.

He has been charged with discharge of a firearm near highway or street, which is a misdemeanor, and three felonies, aggravated assault, possession of arms by convicted felon and first offender and criminal attempt to commit murder.

“We haven’t had a chance to speak with the victim as he had been in surgery,” Lewis said this week.

PyraMax plant sold to Imerys

By Parish Howard

The single largest new industrial investment in Jefferson County just got a whole lot bigger.

Representatives of Imerys, a multi-national world leader in mineral-based specialty solutions for industry, recently met with area business and governmental leaders to discuss its purchase of PyraMax Ceramics LLC.


For the last year residents have been hearing about the plant near Wrens nearing completion and how it will turn locally mined kaolin into proppant for the frac mining operations in other parts of the U.S.

Just a few weeks ago Imerys announced its purchase of the Wrens facility.

“This is a very good thing for PyraMax,” said Don Anschutz, President of PyraMax Ceramics. “Imerys is a very large company that has assets that can allow us to grow.”

Fernando Accioly, representing Imerys’ division devoted to minerals for the petroleum indusry, introduced his company to the community.

“We like to think of ourselves as the world leader for mineral-based specialty products,” Accioly said. “That means we are specialists in mining, mining operations and the transformation of these minerals into products that do make a difference for our customers.

“Our mission in this particular venture is to become a key reference player in the field of minerals for oil fields and related services both here in the U.S. and worldwide.”

Accioli explained that the acquisition of PyraMax and the Wrens plant is important in Imerys’ overall strategic plans for its future in the oil field industry.

Since 2010, Imerys has been developing plans for investing in oilfield mineral operations around the world.

In 2012 it commissioned its first ceramic proppant production line in Andersonville, Ga.

“Actually 40 percent of our North American employees call Georgia home,” said Susan Boss, Imerys’ Integration Manager who will be working on transitioning the PyraMax facility into the company. “So this is very important footprint for us, not only in the region, but the state is a very important player in the value we create for a number of industries. We like calling Georgia home.”

Accioly said the company is aiming to be number one in its market and has a worldwide presence to support the oil and gas industry with a variety of mineral products.

With the addition of the Wrens plant, which is significantly larger than their Andersonville plant, Accioly said Imerys further strenthens its ability to be a primary producer of high quality ceramic proppant for the pertroleum industry.

“In 2012 we decided to create a dedicated organization to serve this market and that’s how MPI (Minerals for the Petroleum Industry, a division of Imerys) was born,” Accioly said. “So we built this plant in Andersonville on the grounds that the raw material was available because we were a mining company to begin with and we had exceptional materials that could be used in the proppant industry...and we had the technical expertise.”

They started production in 2011 and according to Boss it is making and selling commercial proppant today, but is still ramping up to its full production.

In all of their different divisions, Boss said Imerys currently employs around 870 in Georgia today.

“With the completion of lines one and two (at the Wrens plant) that will climb up to 940,” she said.

Boss said that middle Georgia is a significant part of their Georgia operations.

In addition to Wrens, Imerys currently has five facilities in Washington County, she said, including a calcine plant, a hydrous plant, a lands and mining operation, a technical center and a ceramics kaolin center.

Imerys purchased ECC International in June of 1999. At that time it owned the Wrens KaMin plant but had to divest it to Huber at that time.

“So we’ve got a very long history in the community even if we don’t have recent ownership of that facility,” Boss said.

Accioly went on to discuss the ways that Imerys’ interest in the proppant market and the product’s growth potential in markets around the world.

Imerys representatives have said the Wrens plants’ two production lines should be gradually brought online and “ramped up in the course of 2014 for a total annual capacity of approximately 225,000 tons.”

When the first two lines are fully operational, Accioly said the plant will employ 70-plus full time workers with a minimum annual base compensation of a little less than $3 million. He estimated that the plant will support another 200 plus indirect jobs associated with mining, trucking, rail and other local service providers.

Anschutz said that in the next 18 months they will be determining if they will be expanding into lines three and four, effectively increasing its total employees by around 65 full time positions.

Accioli said that both Anschutz and Mike Burgess, PyraMax’s plant manager, who many local officials have been working with for the last two years, will remain with the company.

“As you look at our plant out here you see we’ve come a long way in just a couple of years,” Anschutz told those gathered. “A lot of you were in this room when we presented the idea. We appreciate the support the entire community has given us as we put this thing forward.

“As we sit here we are running our spray fluidizer. We’re making our pellets, which is a significant accomplishment for us.When (Imerys) approached us, I thought there was really only two options for us. Either we go it alone or we merge with Imerys. There’s really no option. This is the best fit. I like their strategy....I think it is an excellent fit and I don’t think we could ask for a better partner.”

Wadley city hall nears completion

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Citizens in Wadley will soon have a new city hall on Butts Street, just up from the current city hall.

“We’ve outgrown it and it needs repairing,” Wadley City Clerk Sallie Adams said about the small brick building on Main Street where city hall is now.


The new building will be ADA accessible, has a sound system, surveillance cameras and an ADA accessible night drop box for water payments.

The sound system will allow not only the councilmembers but citizens to speak into a microphone, which will enable the audience at council meetings to hear better. The area where a citizen stands to address the council will have a microphone.

The half circle table provides nine stations for the council, mayor, city clerk and city attorney. The council room itself will provide 108 seats for the audience.

Charlie Wood, superintendent for Spratlin & Son, said each station at the council table will have a microphone stand.

Each station will have a microphone, data and an electrical outlet, he said.

“They’ll be able to have a laptop at each station,” he said.

Spratlin & Son is based in Lincolnton and is the contractor for the building and the inside.

Wood said they are finishing their part of the construction ahead of schedule.

Adams said she hopes to be able to have a ribbon cutting for the building sometime in May and to be open to the public in June.

After Spratlin & Son finishes its part, landscaping will still need to be done. Adams said she is not certain how long that will take.

The current city hall is part of a long building with a business on either side. The new city hall will be a standalone building on a lot.

Adams said the cost is about $900,000 but said she won’t know the exact figure until all of the work is finished.

The city is borrowing money from State Farmers Bank in Lincolnton to supplement the SPLOST funds being used.

“I’ve had a lot of compliments,” she said. “They say how good it looks and a great accomplishment that the city’s doing.”

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Last modified: May 16, 2013