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Port board considers bids

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By Kevin Koelling, Managing Editor

Wood-chips 'rescue' draws praise from as far away as New Orleans

TELL CITY - The Perry County Port Authority board of directors agreed at a meeting Monday to accept low bids for two projects contingent on their meeting specifications.

The first project, which will entail work at two crossings and track surfacing, netted bids ranging from $76,184 to $112,280.

A $91,858 bid from British rail-infrastructure contractor Balfour Beatty was closest to the engineer's estimate of $90,000, according to Dick Neumann, vice president and chief executive officer of the port-rail agency.

The low bid was tendered by All Track Inc. of Pendleton, and the high offer was from New York-based Railworks Track Services.

The second project will extend track to help Tell City Boat Works move into the port-authority site off of Boundary Way near the floodwall. The engineer's estimate for that work was $125,116, and bids ranged from Balfour Beatty's $97,595 to the $115,802 tendered by Timiny Railroad Construction of Toledo, Ohio.

Board members Tom Holm and Ron Voges said they were surprised bids were well below engineers' estimates.

In other business, Neumann said in discussing port traffic, "we were encouraged by an increasing trend in March on the rail side," but April brought a decrease. Seven barges had offloaded at the port thus far this month, six of which were carrying wood chips.

As The News reported March 17, chips normally off-loaded in Hawesville, Ky., for the Domtar paper mill couldn't be unloaded due to the river's high level. A temporary ramp built within six hours at the Tell City port provided the remedy to that problem. A Domtar employee, Holm said the barges would have waited out the high river at other times of the year, but the company's supply of chips is normally low during this period.

The river level has fallen, but Stephen George said the rescue opened the door to talks about "what business we can pick up."

"We showed we can do it," the new marketing director said. "Everyone was impressed, and they were surprised at how quickly our guys could unload a barge. We made a little money and helped these guys out."

In New Orleans recently to drum up business, "we talked to some guys," George said. "They'd heard about us."

"There are people in Amory, Miss., who know where Tell City is," Holm said. He explained later that's the site of a chip mill where the barges originated.

George, Neumann and Board President Alvin Evans complimented and thanked everyone involved in what Evans called "all the hard work on the wood chips."

In other business, Neumann said Superior Ag Resources Cooperative of Huntingburg submitted the better of two bids to provide diesel fuel, at $3.60 per gallon.

Neumann reported two ballast cars he purchased had arrived and the old ones they replaced were being sold for scrap.