Gold Kist, Inc., formerly Cotton Producers Association, of Atlanta, a Farmer’s Cooperative, decided to build a fertilizer plant on the Savannah River at Clyo to serve the patrons of its Farmers Mutual Exchange Stores in this area of Georgia and potentially in South Carolina. It served eastern Georgia below Elberton and Hartwell.
The 211 acres of land for the plant was purchased from local landowners including: George S. Metzger, George A. Gnann, Abram Garvin Jr., Frank Arnsdorff, Irvin Edwards and the estates of Cauley Williams, Charlie Sears, Laura Sholts and James A. Snooks. The plant was situated on the Savannah River and the Reidsville Road near Clyo, with railroad access. Construction of the 75,000 square foot plant was begun in July 1967 with Paul W. Howze of Adel relocating as plant manager who oversaw the plant construction. The plant had a capacity to produce 100,000 tons of fertilizer and materials annually. It began operation producing super phosphate and soon began producing granular fertilizer, both bulk and bagged.
The plant was a $1.5 million investment opening on Feb. 7, 1968. D. L. Zeigler, chairman of the Effingham County Commissioners, stated in a Savannah Morning News article published on Feb. 8, 1968, “The plant is being optimistically viewed as a cornerstone for future industrial development”.
The crowd estimates by the media at the time were 1,500 to 2,000. They turned out for the ribbon cutting, tours from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and a barbeque lunch. This was about twice the expected crowd. The Effingham County High School band entertained during the event. The symbolic ribbon was cut by Jack E. Ramsey, chairman of the Effingham County Industrial Development Corporation. CPA/Gold Kist General Manager, D. W. Brooks according to the Savannah Morning News said the facility was the “most modern and the finest plant that has ever been built in the world for the products that we propose to produce in it.” Gold Kist, Inc. was listed as the Georgia home based company doing the second largest volume of business and was listed in Fortune Magazine’s top 500 industries. The new plant at that time said to be the most up to date modern plant for fertilizer production in the nation. It employed about 70 with Howze, former plant manager of a CPA plant in Cordele at the helm. Practically all of the facility was operated from a control room with push buttons.
The oldest person who attended the opening ceremony at Clyo was Alvin Gnann aged 101 years according to Wilton B. Shearouse, manager of Gold Kist Effingham Farmers Cooperative in Springfield.
To be continued next week…
Information compiled from Carolyn Morgan’s plant history, telephone interviews with Paul Howze and Richard Loper and newspaper articles in our HES files by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society. If you have photos, comments or information to share, contact Susan Exley at 754-6681 or email her at: email@example.com