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Home News-Telegram News Luminant to give Thermo Mine to city

Luminant to give Thermo Mine to city

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Former coal field includes 4,900 acres southeast of SS

 

What began as a dream of Sulphur Springs City Manager Marc Maxwell half a decade ago is about to become reality as one one of the biggest gifts the city has ever received. “Luminant has agreed to give the entire Thermo Mine to the city of Sulphur Springs,” Maxwell said Monday morning.

“This is something that began maybe five or six years ago with Roy Pelton. Roy had always been looking for a place to hold field dog trials in Texas and often lamented that the Field Dog Championships for Texas were held in Oklahoma because there was no place in Texas to do it.” Maxwell said the city approached Luminant’s Troy Sellers looking for a spot for field dog trials on the mine site. “The answer was no,” Maxwell said. “Firearms were a problem for Luminant, so those kind of events could not happen. At that meeting, I proposed the question to Troy of why doesn't [Luminant] give the mine to the city of Sulphur Springs and just write it off of their taxes. “He smiled and said 'Interesting proposal.'” However, Luminant’s stance changed somewhat when the mine at Thermo ceased operations completely on April, 29, 2016. “I didn't hear much more about it until a few months ago when I got an email from Dell McCabe, whose job it is to close down the mine,” Maxwell said. “He was asking me if I was serious and interested.” Maxwell has had several meetings with Luminant representatives and the city council has discussed it in executive session. “We've entered into an agreement to move ahead,” he said. “I expect the transfer to happen sometime later this year.” The Thermo Mine covers about 4,900 acres of land, including ground that has been returned to its natural state with trees and grasses and ponds. It also includes some open mining pits and one large pit some 80 to 90 feet deep that is full of water. The mine has been idle for about a year after Luminant determined it had reached its potential and Environmental Protection Agency rules were making operation of the Monticello difficult using the type coal mined at Thermo. What to do with the former Thermo Mine, according to the city manager, may not be a question with a simple answer. “I don't think we can answer that question until we have lots of public input on it,” he said. “So, this is an opportune time. We are about to begin the comprehensive planning process for the entire city, which will now include [Thermo Mine property] because we do intend to annex this at some point. The list of things that can be done on the more than 7.5-square-miles of acreage could be almost endless. “I have certain Ideas,” Maxwell said. “But, there 30,000 other people in Hopkins County who also have ideas, and I would like to get everybody together and see what ideas are out there.” The city manager said it was much too early to begin planning any public meetings or other ways to seek ideas about the future of the site. “I think, since most of it is mined, there are probably 300 acres that are not mined that would be suitable for structures. But, the rest of it you can't really put structures on,” he said. “That, in my mind, lends itself to outdoor activities and outdoor events. There must be 10,000 possibilities and I would be interested to hear from the public on what they think it could be used for.” The transfer of the Thermo Mine property is expected to happen later this year. At that point, the city will begin looking for ideas that could fit into a master plan for the 4,900 acres.

 

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