CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Sam Kane Beef Processors have gone through a series of ownership changes, and recently had to close because of financial problems.

The newest owners, Hillcorp Energy Corporation, announced plans to reopen and rehire idled employees; but new figures released by the City of Corpus Christi show the plant still owes the City some $1.4 million in back utility fees.

During a news conference Friday, Mayor Joe McComb said some or all of the money could be collected through the bankruptcy court. He said he's encouraged by the reputation of the new parent company.

"He's a man of character and quality, and I think he'll make Kane Beef go, and what that does is it guarantees these 700 jobs," McComb said. "As of when I talked to Workforce Solutions yesterday, they'd already rehired aproximately 600. They have about 150 people to go."

The new owners said they have now rehired about two-thirds of their employees who used to work at the plant. They said they hope to get back to a total workforce of about 700 employees.

Sam Kane Beef Processors plan to resume operations by March 25.