Friday, August 9, 2013

New Faculty Tour: Crossing of the Ways

Written by Beverly Johnson, public service assistant in governmental services and research, and Mara Register, public service assistant in governmental training, education and development, of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government.

After leaving Tifton yesterday, we traveled approximately one hour East to the "crossing of the ways," the city of Waycross. While we were there, we toured two strong economic engines in this area of our state. First, we visited Georgia Bio-Mass, the largest bio-energy plant in the world. We were greeted at the facility by Billy Parrish and Bob Mayhew, a proud graduate of the University of Georgia! The facility represents a $240 million investment in the community. The plant converts pine trees into wood pellets that are burned in coal power plants in Europe. In order to comply with European Union standards, the facility only purchases wood products from sustainably managed forests. They employ 84 workers and facility supports 1,000 trucking and 1,200 logging jobs in the area. Furthermore, they purchase $50 million in wood products annually and produce 750,000 metric tons of wood pellets each year.

Fun facts:

  • There are 24 million acres of renewable pine forests in Georgia.
  • As of 2011, the forestry industry supported more than 46,000 jobs in Georgia. 
  • There is more commercial forest-land in Georgia than any other state in the country. 
  • The facility in Waycross purchases 1.5 tons of wood product annually, representing 52,000 truck-loads of pine trees. 
  • The wood pellets are railed to the Savannah port by CSX railroad and placed into storage until 30,000 tons are accumulated for shipping to Europe. 
Speaking of the CSX railroad...our next stop was the Rice Yard in Waycross, where we were happily greeted by Jake Hunter, assistant terminal superintendent. This immediate point facility processes approximately 2,000 cars each day for distribution out of this central collection point. Jake shared with the group that 80 percent of the railcars they process are leased and CSX is the service provider. Craig Camuso, another UGA graduate, also spoke to the group as we enjoyed an incredible lunch and toured the control tower.

Fun facts:
  • CSX has 6,000 miles of tracks in Georgia alone. 
  • There are two main line operators and 23 short line operators in Georgia.
  • CSX runs in 23 states in the U.S.
  • CSX has 3,000 employees in Georgia, 800 of which are employed at the Rice Yard.
  • CSX annually invests $115 million in Georgia and $2 billion in the U.S.

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