CITY, STATE (KAIT)
A busy Region Eight river port is about to pick up a little more steam...and business!
The Port of Osceola is built in a slackwater harbor just off a curve of the Mississippi.
The port primarily deals with ag products being shipped out---including rice, wheat, and soybeans.
But some improvements that need to be made will give the harbor the ability to bring more product in and possibly more jobs.
At Nine O clock in the morning the rice trucks are already backed up nearly to the top of the levee.
The full ones roll in to be weighed and unloaded onto barges and the empty trucks leave to get more product.
A lot of grain goes out of this slackwater harbor.
Port Manager Jeff Worsham works for Poinsett Rice and Grain who operate the facilities at the port.
"I think last year we did over a little over 400 thousand tons.that's a pretty good average. "
A barge holds about 60 semi loads of grain with approximately 50 thousand pounds per truck.
All that outgoing grain means income for the city of Osceola.
Osceola's Mayor Dickie Kennemore says the port brings in a steady income for the city. As he showed me around the facility he was quick to point out that...
"Everything you see the city owns and we lease it to Poinsett Grain on a per ton basis. "
The primary dock was built in the seventies and is showing signs of aging. Rusty steel framework is bent after years of barges being slammed into it.
As we leaned over the rail the mayor and I looked at the worn understructure.
"Over the years it's deteriorated underneath and we needed some repairs or replacement of this dock. "
According to Cliff Chitwood the Mississippi County Director for Economic Development, nearly all the funding is in place for a floating dock to be installed at the port.
Jeff Worsham said a floating dock has many advantages.
"The Mississippi river has a plus forty rise and fall on it during the year and at times on a floating dock you would always be at water level. Same level as the barge. "
The new floating dock will be set in the place where they have the tugs parked at right now. They are going move farther on down the river to the other side of the loading docks.
The advantage to a floating dock is that with a crane installed you can bring cargo in and offload it for shipment to other locations making this truly a two-way port.
And with that ability Mayor Kennemore says should come jobs and opportunity.
"It also creates some jobs here directly, but the ripple affect of how it affects the agriculture market all over Northeast Arkansas, helps the farmers. "
The project should cost around 2.2 million being shared among federal, state and county sources.
If the last part of the money is approved by the Mississippi County Quorum Court this month, construction could begin as soon as 60 days later depending on bidding.