Macon braces for possible Obama visit

Thursday, April 22, 2010 | 5:43 p.m. CDT

MACON — It is at once the best-kept and the worst-kept secret in Macon: It appears President Barack Obama will visit an ethanol plant in the small town in north-central Missouri next week.

The visit would be part of Obama's planned Main Street Tour of Illinois, Iowa and Missouri on April 29 and 30. Macon is home to POET Biorefining, which produces ethanol.

Macon City Administrator Allan Muncy said the city has received no official word of the president's plans, but "every time the phone rings I think it's gonna be that."

Stephanie Wilson, general manager at Macon Municipal Utilities, said she had no official confirmation, but she cited "circumstantial evidence" that Obama is coming to the plant.

"We have heard that he is coming to visit there, but I don't have any specifics," Wilson said. "I think the ethanol plant is preparing for his visit."

A secretary for state Sen. Bill Stoufer, R-Napton, also said his office has no precise details. "Ethanol plant — that's all we know. We don't know a time or anything," said a woman who identified herself as Heidi.

POET Biorefining was the first in Missouri to produce ethanol, opening in 2000, according to POET Energy's website. A woman at the plant who did not wish to be identified said she was told the plant would have information Friday pertaining to the president's visit.

Cody Blackford, a jailer at the Macon County Sheriff's Department, wouldn't talk, either. "I cannot release any information," he said. Asked whether he could simply confirm or deny the visit, he repeated: "I cannot release any information."

The White House press office said there were no specific details yet on the president's visit to Missouri but offered to add a Missourian reporter to the list of contacts once an itinerary is set.

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