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Cates port project ‘cruising along toward completion’

Cates port project ‘cruising along toward completion’
By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
Lake County’s Cates Landing project is “cruising along toward completion,” according to Dyersburg attorney John Lannom, but there are some key elements of the project that have yet to be completed.
The multi-million dollar riverport project is on track to open by the end of the year.  It is being heralded as having the potential for major economic impact for the entire northwest Tennessee region.
The Northwest Tennessee Regional Port Authority met for about 20 minutes early Wednesday in Dyersburg to review updates on the project.
Port authority chairman Jimmy Williamson presided over the brief meeting, which was attended by a handful of area officials, including Obion County Mayor Benny McGuire and Lake County Mayor Macie Roberson.
It was decided at the meeting to schedule a ribbon cutting for the riverport on Oct. 16. That event is expected to draw key regional, state and federal officials to the port site for the symbolic opening of Cates Landing. The port is scheduled to officially open for business by mid-December.
Williamson said the port project continues to draw considerable interest, not just nationally but internationally. He said he gave a Powerpoint presentation to a Chinese delegation in Memphis recently and he said “they were pretty receptive.”
Also at Wednesday’s meeting, Lannom reported work is continuing on a Foreign Trade Zone application, a state grant and work on a master plan for the riverport. He has been serving as the port authority’s legal counsel.
“We continue to get positive feedback from (the Foreign Trade Zone application), but it still hasn’t been approved,” Lannom said.
Port officials had expected federal approval of the Foreign Trade Zone application by Wednesday’s meeting.
Lannom also reported a proposed lease agreement with Cargill to use a 50-acre area at the port site is at an “impasse” and it is now uncertain whether the agribusiness will be able to set up a wheat bagging operation.
In addition to the anticipated approval of the Foreign Trade Zone application, the port authority is waiting to hear whether a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant application has been approved. That grant, if approved, will be used to fund a master plan being developed by informa economics of Memphis.
Despite the delays in some of the key elements of the Cates Landing project, the port authority is continuing to forge ahead with the project.
There is progress being made on construction work at the port site, according to Michael Sanders, senior project executive for Forcum Lannom Contractors.
He said work continues to move forward on the highway up to the port site north of Tiptonville. He also said concrete roadways at the site are about 80 percent completed, the dock fill work “is all but completed” and concrete work on a new warehouse is under way.
“Pretty soon, you’ll be able to see where that building goes,” he said.
Sanders said there has been a delay in the planned dredging of the harbor by the U.S. Corps of Engineers.
His recommendation to spend nearly $15,000 for a second video camera at the port site was approved by the port authority and his recommendation to hire Barsto Construction Inc. of Huntingdon to do all the water and sewer work at the port site was approved. The Barsto bid of $249,218 was the lowest of two bids received for the work.
Sanders told The Messenger after the meeting the Barsto bid was about $75,000 under what was budgeted for the water and sewer work.
Only one bid was received for electrical work at the site, so the port authority decided to rebid the package rather than accept the lone bid. The estimated cost to do the electrical work at the site is $484,000, according to Sanders.
The port authority’s next meeting has been set for 9 a.m. Sept. 12 at the Dyersburg/Dyer County Chamber of Commerce.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at kmbowden@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 8.9.12

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