Monarch progress thwarted

Register City Editor

Wrangling over a property easement with British Petroleum has delayed for three years construction of a 2.3-mile-long conveyor to carry raw materials to Monarch Cement Co.’s plant at Humboldt, Allen County commissioners were told Tuesday morning.
Harvey Buckley, plant manager, said the holdup had to do with BP’s legal staff being involved with issues of greater financial importance to the petroleum giant.
BP has three times as many legal issues as staff to deal with them, Buckley said, in explaining why he thought Monarch’s efforts to secure the easement had been pushed aside. Commissioners promised to write BP a letter detailing the importance of the conveyor system to Monarch and to the county.
Rock quarried east of Monarch is now hauled by trucks over county-maintained roads. In the best of circumstances the continual traffic is hard on the roads. Buckley also noted — and commissioners agreed — that having the trucks on county roads was a safety concern.
Buckley did not give an estimate of the conveyor’s cost, but did say once all legal issues were resolved construction would take 18 months to two years. He said the conveyor would pay for itself in seven or eight years considering the 40- to 50-year supply of limestone in Monarch’s domain.
The conveyor will be elevated to keep it out of flood plains along Coal Creek and will avoid U.S. 169 by going under the Coal Creek bridge. Buckley said some thought had been given to changing the route to bypass the BP property, but doing do would require two creek crossings and might create problems with alignment. Any change of direction has to be in a sweeping configuration so it won’t interfere with flow on the conveyor. Up and running, the conveyor will carry 900 tons of rock an hour.

BUCKLEY also showed commissioners sketches of plans to reclaim much of the land where rock now is being quarried.
He said dirt would be carried to the large pit, sculpted and seeded to native grass. Part of the quarry will be permitted to fill with water, in depths ranging from three to eight feet.
Commissioners wondered whether the area eventually would be opened to public recreation. Buckley said he was unsure, although employee access might be encouraged.