NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) — The Natchez-Adams County Port now has enough business and construction going on in it that companies are discussing how to work with — and around — each other.
Company officials with Great River Industries, formerly Enersteel, and Natchez Railway met with members of the board of supervisors and the port commission recently to discuss several issues.
GRI Vice President of Business Development Aaron Shermer also brought issues to the table on behalf of Elevance and von Drehle that had previously been raised in a voluntary safety meeting between port businesses.
GRI has 150 employees now and will add another 25 in the near future, and Elevance will have 400 to 500 people on their site across L.E. Barry Road during the peak construction portion of their biorefinery project, Shermer said.
Work has already begun on the Elevance project.
"That could be a problem, because you can't have 250 employees here and 300 employees here getting off work all at 5 p.m., you just can't do it," County Supervisor Mike Lazarus said.
Shermer asked if plans were in place for increased security or presence from the Adams County Sheriff's Office.
Port Director Anthony Hauer said the port will need a traffic control and maintenance plan to help curtail speeding and what he called "mischievous activities," namely illegal racing in the port area. The port is also host to a boat ramp developed by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
"We get a lot of tourists out there, elderly people driving around," he said. "They shouldn't necessarily be there, but it is a public road and they are out sightseeing. They hear about the sites, and they want to see the progress."
The issue of who can use the port's rail system was also discussed. Some of the companies had expressed an interest in having Natchez Railway drive trains directly onto their properties instead of the current system, in which the port authority and the railroad switch control of trains prior to their entrance into the port.
Hauer said the previous owners of the railroad had a fee agreement in place with the port to use its rail, and thus were able to enter the port area, whereas Natchez Railway does not.
The fees are tied to the liability that comes with operating a rail system, Hauer said.
During the meeting, Shermer offered to give safety training to the port's employees in an Occupational Safety and Health Administration 10-hour class.
GRI and Elevance already cross-train for safety together, Shermer said, and everybody will be on the same safety page.
County Supervisor David Carter said he would support everybody getting as much safety training as they could.
Even though the port as a government body is not beholden to OSHA regulations and its employees have received safety training, Hauer said the port would accept the invitation.
Natchez Inc. Executive Director Chandler Russ said he would rather the port have growing pains than no pains at all.
"As the port continues to get busier and busier, these items are going to surface, so these are good problems to have," he said. "We have now got to address them in a manner that is good for business and good for the port at the end of the day."
Information from: The Natchez Democrat, http://www.natchezdemocrat.com/