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Cates Landing project takes a step forward

Cates Landing project takes a step forward

Posted: Friday, May 13, 2011 12:02 am
By: Kevin Bowden, Staff Reporter

Cates Landing project takes a step forward | Cates Landing project takes a step forward

By KEVIN BOWDEN Staff Reporter Lake County’s multi-million dollar Cates Landing project is about to turn the corner from being a concept to becoming a reality. Recent flooding in northwest Tennessee and southwest Kentucky did not impact the Cates Landing port, which is located above the 100-year flood plain north of Tiptonville. The Northwest Tennessee Regional Port Authority Board met Wednesday morning in Union City at the Obion County Public Library. The meeting was attended by a solid contingency representing Obion County. Obion County Mayor Benny McGuire attended the meeting along with Bedford Dunavant with the Obion County Industrial Devlopment Board, Lind-say Frilling and Phillip Pinion with the Obion County Joint Economic Development Council and Obion County businessman Ron Cooper. The Obion County officials also attended last month’s port authority board meeting in Dyersburg. Wednesday’s meeting at the local library was also attended by Lake County Mayor Macie Roberson and several regional and state economic development officials involved in the port project. Board chairman Jimmy Williamson of Dyersburg presided over the session, which lasted an hour and 15 minutes, and he updated commissioners on recent developments related to the port project. Dyersburg attorney John Lannom was also in attendance at the meeting and reported on legal issues related to the port project. By early July, he said a series of steel pilings will be installed at the port site. “It’s going to be an interesting operation to see them drive those pilings,” Lannom said About 100 steel pilings will be installed, at an estimated cost of about $3.5 million. That work will be a significant milestone in the actual construction phase of the port project. It was announced that a recent tour of the port facility was conducted with port authority officials and maritime officials. “We sat down and had a good discussion with them,” Lannom said. He also reported that the first of regular quarterly reports on the status of the Cates Landing project is due in mid-June. Work is continuing on getting the port declared a Foreign Trade Zone. Williamson said it will likely take some time before the port authority’s application is approved.
He referred to a two-page letter sent by U.S. Department of Commerce executive secretary Andrew McGilvrayin, in which he raised several concerns about the port authority’s application for Foreign Trade Zone status.
Williamson sent back a seven-page response last week addressing each of McGilvray’s concerns.
“It is my hope that the foregoing discussion of applicable legal authorities will resolve your concerns … regarding the legal standing of our Port Authority to submit an application to your Board for Foreign Trade Zone Authority,” Williamson wrote at the conclusion of his seven-page response.
“So far, we haven’t met the threshold,” Williamson said about the port’s Free Trade Zone application. “There’s still a lot of work to be done on that.”
It was made clear at Wednesday’s meeting that with the commitment of $20 million in state and federal funds, work on the port project is going to become much more complex.
Lannom outlined the responsibilities involved in handling federal and state funding, making quarterly progress reports and dealing with contractors.
“There are other legal issues we’ll face as the project moves forward,” Lannom said.
He will continue to provide formal reports to the board at its monthly meetings.
With all the hurdles the port authority board is having to clear in order to get Cates Landing built, there continues to be a genuine mood of optimism about the port’s potential.
The port’s potential to save existing jobs and create thousands of new jobs is seen as one of the keys to the area’s economic survival for a region that has been hard hit by job losses in recent years. Also during Wednesday’s meeting, Williamson recommended and received board approval to designate Forcum-Lannom Contractors as the firm responsible for securing insurance coverage for the port project, as well as handling financial matters and construction responsibilities for Cates Landing.
Balancing the checkbook for the port project is going to be a “challenge” considering state and federal funds are involved, according to Williamson. He explained the method of allocating $13 million in federal funds and $7 million in state funds is different and that Forcum Lannom will have to deal with the two levels of government while also keeping contractors paid in a timely manner.
Lannom described the process of dealing with state and federal officials to handle funding for the project as being “very cumbersome.”
The port authority board also approved reappointing the accounting firm of Enoch and Associates as the auditor for the port project.
The port authority board will meet next month at the Lannom Center in Dyersburg.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by e-mail at

Published in The Messenger 5.12.11