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Man of steel speaks at Morrsion meeting
McNeilus general manager addresses city
Morrison Starts Over.jpg
David Graham, general manager of McNeilus Steel, returned to Morrison Monday night to attempt to better explain what the company would be doing in Morrison if the land gets rezoned to industrial. - photo by Bethany Porter

Morrison is starting over and will vote again on the decision to rezone the land for the steel company. 

Last month, Morrison residents were unhappy about the voting process for rezoning a piece of property from agricultural to industrial. The company, McNeilus Steel Inc., bought the property on W. Maple St. and has to get the land rezoned before it can build. Morrison has decided to restart the voting process and had the general manager of McNeilus Steel, David Graham, come back Monday night to explain the company. 

Before the meeting, Morrison mayor Sue Anderson informed the people in attendance that if they were not respectful they would be asked to leave due to how the meeting went last month.

“We have a little change in the way the meeting is being held tonight. One thing is we are not going to allow people to talk out. We are going to be respectful. If you speak up while he does the presentation, we will ask you to leave,” said Anderson.

Graham prepared a slideshow with pictures of other McNeilus Steel factories and explained what they would do in Morrison. He said this is the company’s 75th year in existence and they have seven business units across four states with approximately 750 employees. Graham says they distribute steel and employee all their own truck drivers. 

“We maintain everything inside. We don’t store anything outside. We don’t unload anything outside. We don’t load anything outside. Railcars and trucks are all done inside the buildings, inside of the walls. We do that for a lot of reasons. One of the biggest ones is cleanliness of our products. We don’t want to get it wet or rusty. We want to have ease of access to it so we take very good care to insure our facilities and our products are always in an orderly and clean state,” said Graham. 

Morrison was chosen due to its railroad and highway access. 

“Morrison sits on Highway 55 with access to 24 and good access to 40. Tennessee has a lot of hills, so getting that type of access was not easy and we looked around for about nine months to find a lot that fit the things we needed,” said Graham. 

He also says they chose the location for the space. 

“We don’t necessarily intend to fill up this entire lot with buildings, but we need room to move. We don’t want to stack things to the ceiling or store things outside. We want to be able to put the building we need to put on a rectangular lot,” said Graham. 

“Do you care to tell the people who were concerned about why you bought the land before it was rezoned. Can you discuss that?” asked Anderson. 

“Why did we buy it before it was rezoned? Our understanding was we had to own it to get it rezoned,” said Graham. “There was no motivation for the seller to do the rezoning. We made a purchase agreement. We put money down on the purchase agreement. We met with the county. Folks were represented from the city, the utilities, the development folks and there was no assurance. There was no guarantee, but as we looked at the potential that the city could use a company like McNeilus Steel. We pay about $19 an hour as a starting wage. We offer benefits.”

He explained the company felt they would be welcomed into Morrison and thought they received positive feedback at first.

“We felt that this was a place that would welcome us. We did not have any aspirations that it might be easy, but we felt this was a great location for us to do what we do. From all the feedback we got, we felt very positive it would work out,” said Graham. 

“I want to thank you for coming and I want to apologize for the way you were treated last time. I want that put in the paper. I apologize from the town for the way you were treated last time,” said Anderson.

Morrison will restart the voting process on rezoning the land from agricultural to industrial. The Morrison planning commission will discuss the vote at its next meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 21. Morrison planning commission meetings are scheduled for the third Tuesday of every month.