Covering Louisiana

Apr 30, 2012 10:50 AM by AP

State spent $63.5 million on ill-fated mill

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The Louisiana legislative auditor says the state spent $63.5 million on an ill-fated sugar cane mill at Lacassine.

Auditor Darryl Pupera said Monday that the mill, which hasn't been used in about four years, was built for a group of southwestern Louisiana cane farmers that never numbered more than 30.

The project was pushed by former Agriculture Commission Bob Odom, who used employees from his agency to build the mill. A report says the state agriculture department spent nearly $6.4 million on salaries for those employees.

The auditor also said the state spent $8.5 million to build a rail line to ship cane from Lake Charles to Baldwin. The report says that line failed as a sugar cane shipping route - and now is used to transport oil.

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