OSCEOLA, AR (KAIT) - About a year ago we told you that there was funding available to build a floating dock at the Port of Osceola.
Just recently construction got underway. What will this mean for the busy port which is also getting ready for the harvest?
Even though harvest really hasn't kicked into gear, the Port of Osceola is keeping really, really busy. There's a lot going on including new major construction.
Port Manager Jeff Worsham was taking a few minutes to enjoy the breeze coming off the river. He says adding the dock adds a whole new dimension to the facility.
"It will allow us to bring products in off of the barge instead of the only thing we do now is load out, take grain out."
Technically a port is supposed to have loading and off loading facilities. For years all the Port at Osceola could do was ship out grain products mainly, corn, soybeans and dry rice. A 2 million dollar floating dock project was launched last year with construction finally getting underway this month.
Osceola Mayor Dickie Kennemore and I looked at the work that has been completed so far.
"You can see the concrete trucks are out here and they are pouring the concrete for what's on the riverside." Basically all there is are 2 sets of 4 short concrete piers and some slabs.
In a few short weeks these piers will support 2 conveyor belts of differing lengths that will run from a dump bin down to the floating dock which will be parked about where 2 towboats that move barges around the port are anchored.
The dock itself will be a barge with a track hoe on board to offload barges. The conveyors can not be used to load grain barges but will be used to import bulk fertilizer . Mayor Kennemore says he hopes there will be other industry tie-ins.
Beckman-Volmer the new wind turbine manufacturer has taken a close look at the new facility.
Kennemore, "They want to ship in raw materials which is steel and possibly ship out their finished product on the river and send it overseas."
In anticipation of a busy harvest shipping season and port expansion the corp of engineers dredge Pontchartrain is working on the channel depth and expanding the depth for the new dock.
Right now the last of last years rice is being shipped out but Worsham expects a busy harvest season.
"Were expecting around 10 million bushels of corn and beans this year."
With the completion of the new dock in about 8 weeks, the port will really be a full service port.
Kennemore, "We're really excited about becoming a worldwide import export operation and not just an export operation."