Cates Landing project’s completion expected this year

Cates Landing project’s completion expected this year
By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
By all indications, Lake County’s Cates Landing project is on schedule to be completed by the end of the year.
Reports from several key officials involved in the multi-million dollar riverport project dominated a half-hour port meeting held Wednesday morning in Dyersburg.
Approval of the port authority’s monthly financial report elicited a telling comment from board chairman Jimmy Williamson.
“We’ve got quite a bit of money flowing through now that construction has started,” he said.
The port board’s legal adviser, Dyersburg attorney John Lannom, presented the board with a proposed debt policy which he said was drafted with input from the Municipal Technical Advisory Service and the state Comptroller’s Office. Board members were provided with copies of the proposed policy, but took no action on the proposal.
“The project continues,” Lannom told the board as he provided a brief update on various port issues.
He explained all the pay requests from contractors are “going through in a harmonious fashion” and that payments are being processed in a timely manner by state and federal agencies, which are providing a bulk of the project’s financing.
“It’s just a perfect picture of state and federal government at work, successfully,” Lannom said. “It’s just working really well.”
To go along with Lannom’s positive report, Forcum-Lannom project manager Mike Sanders also issued a positive report on construction progress.
“Everything this week is moving along really well,” Sanders told the board.
He said a significant construction milestone has been reached with the installation of the last sheet piling cell.
“The only issues we’ve got right now are the weather and the river,” Sanders said.
Another positive update was submitted by Mike Philpot, executive director of the West Tennessee Industrial Association. He is working on securing Foreign Trade Zone status to go along with the Cates Landing project.
Philpot told board members the FTZ application is still being processed and said there are “no problems” and the application approval is “on track according to (federal officials).”
“The economic impact of this is already being felt,” Philpot said.
Other developments from Wednesday’s meeting included:
• A meeting has been scheduled for 9 a.m. Feb. 28 at the Dyersburg/Dyer County Chamber of Commerce. Ken Eriksen, senior vice president with informa economics, will facilitate the meeting, according to Williamson.
The Northwest Tennessee Regional Port Authority has hired informa economics to develop a master plan for Cates Landing. The Memphis firm is working with the port authority on the hiring of a port director.
• A key state official was among those attending a port authority meeting for the first time. State Department of Economic and Community Development jobs development specialist Blake Swaggart introduced Allen Borden, statewide director of the department’s business development division.
Also in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting were Obion County Mayor Benny McGuire and Lake County Mayor Macie Roberson.
• Williamson was authorized to negotiate for the acquisition of a two-acre piece of private property near Cates Landing. If he is successful in buying the property, a new access road to the port site could be more strategically developed for truck traffic.
In a related matter, Lake County resident William Lynn informed the port authority he has a piece of property near the roads being developed into the Cates Landing site and said his property will be devalued by all the roadwork. He said he has a brick house on the property, which is located adjacent to the roadwork.
In response to Lynn’s statements, Lannom said such road construction work can sometimes enhance the value of adjacent properties. Williamson said there was no money in the port authority budget to compensate Lynn and he advised Lynn to seek legal recourse.
• An announcement that the port authority and Lake County officials need to work together on an “operating plan” to work with industrial prospects once the port is completed.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at kmbowden@ucmessenger.com. Published in The Messenger 2.9.12

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