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Dan Hust | Democrat

Congressman Maurice Hinchey and a host of local, state and federal officials on Tuesday celebrate the arrival of the final piece of funding for a proposed red meat processing facility in Liberty.

‘Slaughterhouse 2012’

By Dan Hust
LIBERTY — September 24, 2010 — Though the struggle is not over, the end of a very long and arduous road to a much-desired slaughterhouse in Liberty came into sight on Tuesday.
On the steps of the Liberty Town Hall, Congressman Maurice Hinchey and a slew of local and state dignitaries hailed the securing of the final $800,000 needed to begin design and construction of the Southern Catskills Red Meat Processing Facility.
That grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) had been in question for the past year, until Hinchey and EDA representative John Marshall vigorously pitched it to the top federal brass.
“I can’t tell you what a hard time it was selling the name ‘red meat processing facility’ to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.,” Marshall related to the Liberty crowd. “They had no concept.”
“We’ve got the $800,000 now,” Hinchey triumphantly stated to cheers.
Marshall added that this was no easy gift.
“You actually earned this through a really hard competition,” he explained.
In fact, more “popular” high-tech projects were passed over, thanks to officials’ passionate arguments in favor of a slaughterhouse that will enable farmers from inside and around Sullivan County to dramatically cut travelling costs to process their meat at a U.S. Dept. of Agriculture-approved facility.
Coupled with existing funding from the federal, state and county levels, the building could be operational by 2012.
“This is collaboration at its best,” observed County Legislature Chairman Jonathan Rouis, labeling the effort “one of the most important economic development projects in Sullivan County to date.”
The 5,250-square-foot complex is not a done deal yet, however.
To be located at the end of Willow Avenue near the village’s wastewater treatment plant, the facility must first be designed and constructed – all within a $1.7 million budget created in the years prior.
Industrial Development Agency (IDA) legal counsel Walter Garigliano has warned in the past that there is no room for cost overruns – or for a once-planned expansion that would feature a retail store, thanks to the steep, unforgiving terrain.
While construction could begin as early as this spring, IDA and Sullivan County Agricultural Local Development Corporation officials, in concert with the Partnership for Economic Development and Cornell Cooperative Extension, are waiting for the steel framework to go up before once again approaching potential operators.
Too, while the slaughterhouse will be capable of handling cattle, sheep, hogs and goats, Garigliano pointed out that the private operator will determine if one, two, three or all four such meats will be processed.
Still, he and others, like recently “unretired” Extension Director Joe Walsh, are happy to see the dream realized – within the span of their professional careers.
As Liberty Mayor Richard Winters gladly put it, “I can’t wait for the ribbon cutting!”

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