Business at port slows with economy

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Employees achieve 2nd injury-free year

By Kevin Koelling, Managing Editor

TELL CITY – "There will be slim picking around here, not to say that it's not slim now," Dick Neumann said at a regular meeting of the Perry County Port Authority board of directors Dec. 8.

The vice president and chief executive officer of the port authority and Hoosier Southern Railroad was discussing material-movement projections for the holiday period, expected to be affected by a downturn in the automotive industry.

"Fuel prices continue to go down; that's the good news," he said. "The bad news is there's no tonnage to move with it." In reporting volumes of materials expected to pass through the port, Neumann said he expected to offload two barges of pig iron and one of magnesium oxide.

He had more good news.

"I'm pleased to report we achieved Nov. 17 our second year without injuries," he said, adding that prospects were good for completing 2008 injury-free. The board approved a motion recognizing and congratulating employees for the achievement.

In other business, an annual reorganization resulted in a retention of the current officers for 2009. Alvin Evans will remain chairman, Bill Goffinet will continue to serve as vice chairman, Ron Voges will retain his secretary-treasurer role and Neumann will serve as assistant secretary-treasurer.

Neumann said debris removal following a September wind storm cost $10,400, 75 percent of which will be reimbursable by grant funding. Adding damage to a fabrication-shop roof raised the bill to an estimated $39,000, a figure provided to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which "would normally pay whatever insurance doesn't pay," he said. "We agreed years ago not to insure that building."

FEMA has a rule that says they'll help pay for damages if the agency shows it obtained insurance, he added. The federal agency also required him to secure three bids for repairing the roof, but in previous efforts, he found no local roofers willing and able to do the work.

"I sent bids to three roofing contractors," Neumann told the board. Responses were due Friday, and whatever came back would go to FEMA, and "we'll see where we go from there," he said.

He also said letters of support had been submitted by the county commissioners, Cannelton city leaders, Perry County Development Corp., and Corn Island-Tell City Boat Works officials for proposed improvements to River Road and one connecting it to Indiana 66. The port authority wants to rehabilitate the roads to handle truck traffic, diverting it from Tell City roads.

An application to the Indiana Department of Transportation was to have been discussed at a meeting Tuesday in Vincennes.