Wagner Native Ethanol gets extension to gather funds for railroad lineOther companies have expressed formal interest in purchasing the line from state ownership and are waiting for the outcome of the Wagner Native Ethanol situation.
By: Bob Mercer, The Daily Republic
PIERRE — Wagner Native Ethanol won one more reprieve Wednesday from the state Railroad Board.
The board granted another extension of a resolution authorizing sale of the state-owned Napa-Platte railroad line to the project’s developers.
They have yet to turn a shovel on their dream or pay the board a cent for the defunct rail line after more than five years.
The resolution technically expired Wednesday when Wagner Native Ethanol failed once again to deliver a check for the $1,488,812 price that was agreed upon in 2006.
Other companies have expressed formal interest in purchasing the line from state ownership and are waiting for the outcome of the Wagner Native Ethanol situation.
Sale of the line is considered essential to its revival and carries the potential to open many agricultural development opportunities in the south-central region of South Dakota.
Dakota Plains Ag Center, headquartered in Tripp, has secured land options for constructing a grain-loading facility at Napa Junction, giving it access to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe line and the Napa-Platte line.
“That’s absolutely why we chose that site,” general manager Bill Beukema said.
The Dakota Plains project, estimated at $28 million to $30 million, would be substantially completed in fall 2013.
The latest finance lawyer for Wagner Native Ethanol said Wednesday he can deliver a loan commitment document for purchase of the Napa line to the state Department of Transportation no later than Monday.
He told the board that funds can be drawn in 21 to 30 days, assuming that sales documents are complete.
The board agreed to give Wagner Native Ethanol a new deadline of Nov. 14 to deliver the money and complete the deal. “The clock ticks again and again,” board chairman Todd Yeaton of Highmore said.
Wagner Native Ethanol’s plan is to operate the stretch from Napa to Ravinia, with the rest of the line west to Platte being used for salvage.
The board also decided Wednesday to reserve state ownership of the Napa Junction “wye” — a triangular junction — in Yankton County, where the state line intersects with the BNSF railroad.
State ownership of the wye preserves rights for shippers to access the BNSF line in order to reach other carriers such as in Sioux City or elsewhere. The board also decided to keep ownership of the first two miles of the state line west of the Napa wye for future development purposes.