Residents React to Possible Plant Closure

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CHAMOIS - The town of Chamois may just be a blip on the map of Missouri, but it does make a name for itself through its power plant, a power plant that is now facing closing its doors and laying off most people in Chamois.

The Chamois Power Plant is one of the largest employers in the small Osage town, which some residents say would be a "bleeding loss" for the community.

Chamois resident and small business owner Sue Heisler said she would reconsider moving her small business elsewhere if the plant does close and soil the local economy.

"I do atrract customers from more than just this town, but I want to be able to serve my community first and foremost if I can," Heisler said.

Art Riegal worked for the factory for 40 years and served in almost every role at the plant before retiring.

"It was the most important thing I've ever done, I raised my whole family on it," Riegal said.

He said he does not like the idea of not having a power plant in town, but says he doesn't think the community will be impacted by it much.

"It depends on how people take it, you know. If everybody decides to leave, then they'll be gone," Riegal said.

Residents had the chance to hear elected officials speak Thursday about the outlook of the plant and ask any questions they may have.

More than 30 employees could lose their jobs if the plant closes, however it's effects will be far-reaching. The plant brings in around $2 million a year. Around $58,000 of that goes straight to the Chamois School District through taxes.

In order to abide by new rules from the EPA, the plant would have to undergo upgrades that would cost close to $14 million over the next five years. On top of that, the plant faces a 94% increase in costs for transporting coal to Chamois, and $3 million in railroad upgrades by next year.

KOMU 8 News spoke with Don Shaw, the general manager of Central Electric Cooperative before the meeting. He said that even though Central Electric does own the plant, it is Associated Electric Cooperative in Springfield that pays the costs of running the plant, so the decision will ultimately come down to them.

Shaw said he estimates a decision should be reached between late February and early June.