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October 4, 2012

Wainwright heading to Austria

Will meet with Klausner, tour sawmill

Live Oak — The Suwannee County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to send Chairman Wesley Wainwright to Austria for five days beginning Oct. 14 to meet with officials with Klausner and to tour one of its sawmill facilities.


Commissioners approved the development agreement between Klausner Lumber One, LLC and Suwannee County to build a state-of-the-art sawmill in western Suwannee County on Sept. 18. Klausner has yet to sign the contract.

Some have questioned why the county didn’t take the trip to Austria when the contract was first put on the table. Wainwright was quick to note that the offer was there.

“Six months ago when we met with him (Thomas Mende, representative for Klausner), he wanted us to go then. But I trusted their vision and their communication was good with us,” said Wainwright. “I didn’t feel the need to go.” 


Since then, the tides have changed for Suwannee County who was once in the lead to gain this multi-million dollar business. Since then, North and South Carolina have jumped into the race.

“I told Mr. Mende when he was here that the county had approved the contract and we had contractors ready to go,” Wainwright told the audience while also giving praise to County Administrator Randy Harris. “When we first started looking at the deadlines and the demands of things that would need to be done, it just seemed impossible. But Randy has worked very, very hard and has put us on the forefront and more than capable of meeting the needs of this company.”

Other sites on the east coast that have become a prospect for Klausner have already made their way to Austria for a visit.


“Everyone has been but us,” he said. “Mr. Mende remains to be a strong proponent for this site. He feels that if we go it would solidify Mr. Klausner’s thoughts.”

During Wainwright’s visit with Mende, the commission chairman expressed to Mende that the county has done everything they could do to welcome and prepare for the company. The bids have been placed and contractors are ready to go to work as soon as the contract is signed.

“I’m not a poker player. I don’t want to be used, and I don’t want the county to be used, so I feel it’s important that we go,” said Wainwright. 


The board did not vote unanimously like North Carolina did to welcome Klausner into the county, but instead the contract passed 3-1, with Commissioner Phil Oxendine voting against it. Commissioner Jesse Caruthers was not in attendance.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Oxendine clarified that although he didn’t vote for it, he would support it since it was the decision of the board.

One purpose of this mission is to let Klausner know that the board and Suwannee County would like to see them here.


“They haven’t gotten negative feedback from the other locations and I don’t think there’s no doubt we have illustrated our commitment to Klausner, but this trip will solidify Mr. Klausner’s thoughts,” said Wainwright. 
Wainwright told the Democrat that the trip is being paid for by grant dollars.

 

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