By Jim Rogers, Editor, The Winnsboro News
Winnsboro City Council moved through their December Regular Session agenda quickly checking off each item until they were bogged down with public comments concerned with air quality affected by the industrial park located within the city limits east of downtown Winnsboro on property north of State Highway 11, west of All Star Road and north of FM 515. As a result of the discussion, the mayor was asked to send letters to several entities asking for more information regarding Texas Sigma Partners.
A request for placement on the agenda made by Brandy Embrey and Chana Gail Willis focused on what they called “Air quality and emission breaches at the Sigma Plant on Highway 11; request from property owners within one mile…” Prior to public comment, Mayor Andrea Newsome read a statement from the council that stated the council and city staff were aware of odors from the industrial park as is the Texas Commision on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). She said the city will cooperate with the state and put in place any recommendations made by the TCEQ.
Five residents spoke to the council regarding what they defined as odor, health, and toxic material concerns. Ms. Embrey read from prepared quotes from several residents regarding the smell and its effect. She stated that those she quoted lived within a three mile radius of Texas Sigma Partners from which she said the odor was emitted. Ms. Willis said her concern was “…not only the stench but what was in the stench.” Other citizens questioned any plans for containment of the odor, for air monitoring, and what raw materials were added to the process that turns chicken litter into usable pellet fertilizer for homes and farms. Council person Joan Morris stated that the council is concerned about any toxic materials that would be found in the odor. She said her son drives a transport vehicle and he said materials used in this type of industry are often considered toxic. Council person Jim Hollowell said the city will work with the state and will follow up on any recommendations made.