The proposed high-speed rail that would connect San Francisco to the San Fernando Valley has been a highly debated topic, sparking anger among some Valley farmers, businesses and the county supervisors as they fight against a project some say would ruin businesses and farms in the area.
Debbie Vaughn from the County Administrator's Office spoke at Tuesday's Board of Supervisor's meeting of one business in particular that would likely be destroyed by the rail system.
PFFJ, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hormel Foods Corporation, would be seriously impacted. The company, located west of Hanford on 420 acres, would see its land split in half by the proposed alignment for the rail system, explained Vaughn. Not only will the alignment of the rail system split farmland and other land, it will also require the building of several overpasses which will create even more problems for many farmers an businesses.
For example, as Vaughn explained, proposed overpasses would directly hurt PFFJ. According to Vaughn, construction of one overpass would mean the company could lose access completely to its feed mill, while the other proposed overpass would take away land that it uses for productions.
"You can't replace that land," she said. "The feed mill would be a huge financial impact with no guarantee of access to the speed rail. This could affect many other businesses."
PFFJ employs 43 permanent, year-round employees with benefits and an annual payroll of $1 million, according to Vaughn. The employees live throughout the county, including Springville.
County supervisors agreed the proposed speed rail was not a good idea for the area and to send the letter of request to the California High-Speed Rail Authority, asking for another route to be devised or full compensation for farmers and businesses if not revised. The letter discusses full payment for those affected including moving the business or farm, loss in productivity and sales, wages, projected loss and other related items.
"Sometimes people walk away with a satchel full of money; that doesn't come close to taking care of all the future loss," said District 4 Supervisor Steven Worthley. "We have a governor, for whatever reason, who is fixated on the rail. ... We are determined as a board, but can't control the state."
"This is just the tip of the iceberg," District 5 Supervisor Mike Ennis agreed. "For me, it's just a luxury we don't need at this time in California. We need water. ... We wish we could do more."
The board unanimously agreed to send the letter of request.
In other business:
— The board recessed for closed session where supervisors discussed several topics that related to leasing -- and possible purchase of -- property for the District Attorneys and Public Defenders offices in Porterville. Among items discussed in closed section regarding Porterville property included a 3.6 acre parcel on East Olive Avenue, west of Plano Street, immediately south of the new Porterville Courthouse; a vacant 4.5 acre parcel at the southwest corner of Westwood Street and Henderson Avenue; and properties 643 and 663 on North Westwood Street -- proposed property for leasing that is owned by Sierra Valley District Hospital.
— Supervisors celebrated the Daughters of the Nile's 100th birthday with a presentation.
— Health and Human Services Agency provided a presentation about adoption and stated they had finalized 149 adoptions, which exceeded the state standard and also exceeded last year's total by about 40 percent.
Copyright 2013 - The Porterville Recorder, Calif.