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Rusk County rails positioned to entice new area business

Thursday, June 5, 2014 - 5:44pm

There are more than one hundred tanker cars currently sitting on Rusk County train tracks, and right now, plans are in the works, to turn these tankers into county revenue.

Back in 2010, the Rusk County Rural Rail District acquired the tracks which run across Rusk County, in an effort to revitalize an old county tradition, while enticing new businesses to make their way into the area.

Eleven state highways run through the county seat of Henderson, but no interstate

"Our tie to big business, if you will, around the nation, is this rail piece, it's served us since 1877," said district president John Cloutier.

The Rusk County Rural Rail District was founded back in 2008, and acquired these tracks two years later, keeping with the county's history, while still moving it forward.

"Not only doe we have an emotional attachment to the piece but it comes into our industrial park and it gives us a future relevance," said Cloutier.

A future, with a mode of transportation, that is making it's way back in the business world.

"Businesses seek opportunities to put themselves on rail where they can be served and we intend to provide that here in Rusk County, and so far, we've managed to start doing that," said Cloutier.

They've also made accommodations within the city, removing the last mile of track that lead into downtown, allowing a new road which leads back to the hospital, historical park, and residential areas.

"That model has change and having trains where your cars are isn't efficient or functional, so it solved a long term problem for this community," said Cloutier.

The more than 100 tanker cars can transport petroleum, minerals, and other vital business resources, and it's a project that looks to change the face of Rusk County, for the better.

"One good business can really sustain a community for a long time with a large industrial base in jobs," said Cloutier.

According to Cloutier, the purchase price of this railway is being completely paid back out of the operations of the rail.

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