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THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2007
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Couple plan recycling business in Somerville

By Ronnie Thomas
rthomas@decaturdaily.com 340-2438

SOMERVILLE — A junkyard coming to town?

Some residents fear that's what will locate on 9.3 acres on Alabama 67, a few hundred yards south of the caution light.

But Joe Watson, who expects to close on the property any day, said he and his wife, Rhonda, plan to open Watson Recycling, a multi-faceted business that will include a tractor dealership and lawn mower shop.

"We'll probably process some junk cars on the back of the property," said Watson, a GE employee. "There won't be any junk or scrap stored anywhere near the highway, where we have about 598 feet of frontage. We'll have a security fence around the entire premises and follow all EPA guidelines and laws."

Watson said he will invest more than $200,000, which includes the purchase of the land, to get the business going.

Bettye Shadrick of Hartselle said she and her late husband, Billy, owned the tract for about 10 years, where they ran a pulp wood yard.

"Before that, someone operated a sawmill there," she said. "We donated the property to First Assembly of God in Hartselle, and the church sold it to Joe."

Watson said he and his wife, who teaches at Sparkman Elementary School, have been buying material from various places, processing it, cleaning it and taking it to sale.

"We've been doing it from truck load to truck load, and it seemed the business grew to where we needed some facilities," he said. "I have been trying to buy this place for about a year. We're going to completely clean it and renovate the existing building. We're also planning a complete line of lawn mower parts and other yard equipment, and selling storage buildings."

Watson said he envisions within a couple of years of hiring perhaps 15 to 20 full-time employees and giving the town an opportunity for additional tax dollars.

"I believe we will be a great asset. We just don't want the people of Somerville, where we also live, to think we're going to be a fly-by-the-night junkyard that's going to diminish property values," he said. "We're, in fact, going to improve them. That property has been vacant and overgrown for about seven years."

Watson said he understands peoples' concerns, but he said they've got to understand that from a business aspect, starting the company is his right.

"Many in the community have told us they can't believe what all we've already done (in cleaning the property)," he said. "I just want whomever has a complaint, be it town officials or private citizens, to come and talk to me if they have any issues. I don't know how much fairer I can get than that."

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