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Years in development, Port at Cates Landing weeks from opening

Years in development, Port at Cates Landing weeks from opening
By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
What has been years in the making is now weeks away from becoming a reality — the Port at Cates Landing.
Lake County’s riverport is nearing completion and Wednesday morning the Northwest Tennessee Regional Port Authority moved a step closer to hiring an interim port director.
Richard Arnold, an Obion County commissioner and one of the county’s two representatives on the port board, nominated Scott Sigman as the interim port director. Also nominated was Sherry Price as Sigman’s assistant.
Both were unanimously approved by the five board members who attended Wednesday’s half-hour meeting.
Sigman is a senior consultant with the Memphis consulting firm informa economics. That firm is under contract with the port authority to develop a master plan and consult on the hiring of a port operator.
Under the proposed contract as interim port director, Sigman will work two days a week at the port for a six-month period for $30,000 ($5,000 a month). Travel expenses will be in addition to the $30,000.
“Once the initial six months of service is complete the service and the fee will be re-evaluated,” a two-page letter from informa economics to port authority chairman Jimmy Williamson states in part.
Sigman was one of four candidates for the interim port director position. He has more than 25 years of experience in global trade and transportation planning.
His resumé states he has “intertwined public and private enterprise business development experiences with hazardous materials management, as well as port homeland security cargo planning.”
Sigman’s four-page resumé documents his extensive background as a project manager, port planning officer, port engagement director, business development director, logistics manager, analyst, trade manager, project supervisor and executive administrator.
Now that he has been approved for the position, the contract between informa economics and the port authority will be finalized and Sigman is scheduled to begin work by early April. He has already been involved in the port project and recently attended a meeting of the National Association of Foreign Trade Zones held in Washington, D.C. Sigman was joined by the port authority’s legal counsel, Dyersburg attorney John Lannom, at that meeting.
“I think that’s the best way for us to go,” Williamson said about the hiring of Sigman.
“That’s what they’ve agreed to do and I think that’s fair,” he added in reference to the proposed contract terms with informa economics.
In order to have someone on site at the port on a full-time basis, the port authority agreed to offer the assistant position to Ms. Price, who is expected to start work by early June. There was no discussion at Wednesday’s meeting about Ms. Price’s salary.
In a related development, informa economics has provided members of the port authority with a draft of a master plan. The 79-page master plan is divided into six sections.
“I think they’ve done a very thorough job,” Arnold told The Messenger after the meeting.
“We’re not anywhere near approving this thing,” Williamson said during the meeting. “There’s a lot of information in here.”
“We welcome comments,” Sigman said as he described the draft master plan as “an internal planning document.”
“It’s a living, breathing document. It’s meant to change,” Sigman said.
In other action at Wednesday’s meeting, the port authority:
• Was given an update from Lannom about ongoing work on the port’s Foreign Trade Zone.
“We’re starting to put together the nuts and bolts of the FTZ program for the port authority,” Lannom said.
He went on to say the administrative framework for the Foreign Trade Zone is being developed.
• Was given a construction update by Michael Sanders with Forcum Lannom Contractors of Dyersburg.
One of the key developments at the port site just north of Tiptonville is the installation of a new port sign.
“It’s getting down to the nitty gritty when you’re painting your sign,” Sanders said. “It looks really good.”
Sanders also reported work on the port’s warehouse is expected to be completed by this week and electrical work at the port site is more than 95 percent complete. The dolphin piles on the south end of the dock are nearing completion, while work on the dolphin piles on the north end of the dock has not yet started. There are four dolphin piles planned at the port site and all four are expected to be completed by the end of March, according to Sanders.
His report included a series of images from the port site.
The placement of rock along the banks of the Mississippi River is nearly complete, dock lights have been installed and the last piece of the puzzle as far as construction is the installation of catwalks, and that is scheduled for completion by early April.
• Was informed that a contract extension for the port’s federal grant has been approved, according to Williamson, who said the contract has been extended to September to give the port authority time to complete all its paperwork on the project.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at kmbowden@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 2.21.13

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