A new series, “Our Town,” presented by WTOK highlights Kemper County and how the Kemper County Coal Plant has had a “tremendous impact on the county.” According to Craig Hitt, Executive Director of the Kemper County Economic Development Authority, the plant has had a positive impact on income, tax base generation and it offers Kemper County “something to work with that they haven’t had before.” Hitt stated that “the new tax income has helped with capital improvement projects, such as resurfacing roads and building new buildings.” “They are making investments with new county buildings and doing work on existing county buildings. These are things that they just have not been able to do in the past because of the funding,” Hitt said.
In “Our Town: Kemper County Infrastructure Changes” Board of Supervisors president Johnny Whitsett said “We’re calling it a new Kemper. I see that Kemper County is going to be moving up.” Whitsett has helped to transform the infrastructure around Kemper County, including much-needed road improvements and new streets. The road improvements are thanks to a major influx of cash from Mississippi Power’s coal plant. The supervisors are also using those funds to provide a new building for the health department and the Dept. of Human Services. “We’re thinking, the way we’re doing this financing, we’re thinking we can actually get a new building cheaper than we can do the repairs to the old building,” Whitsett says. While the changes are to help the residents now, they’ll also help make the area more appealing for any future business prospects. “Aesthetic improvements and infrastructure improvements can go a long way when you’re trying to recruit businesses and industry to your community, and we’re seeking to create that in Kemper County,” county administrator Andrew Smith says.
“Our Town: Sizing Up the Kemper County Coal Plant” mentions that at its peak, more than 6,000 workers were employed at the Kemper County Coal Plant. According to Liberty Fuels president Vern Lund, “a vast majority of the employees come from Kemper County.” “Great folks, great bunch of people, doing a great job out here, building a first class mining operation,” Lund says. Officials say they believe the impact for Kemper County will be massive.