Port business increasing slowly

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 13, 1999

The Natchez-Adams County Port is getting busier — slowly.

&uot;Activity at the port has been slowly increasing,&uot; said port Director Pat Murphy, adding that activity is not yet up to previous levels.

&uot;Georgia Pacific has booked 11 barges of plywood,&uot; he said, indicating he anticipated similar bookings from other wood-consuming manufacturers.

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&uot;We’re even seeing a small increase in the amount of Pineville linerboard being shipped through the port,&uot; Murphy said.

In October, the port began to load cotton seed. The port has since loaded eight barges and will likely see another 30 barges next ginning season anywhere from August to December of 2000. Although grain prices are still down and grain is not yet moving on the newly completed bulk loading dock at the port, Murphy said the port will be ready when the market begins moving again.

&uot;We’re improving as we go along, and things change every minute,&uot; he said. &uot;Hopefully we will continue to see an increase in the financial shape of the port.&uot;

The next major improvement needed at the port will be a crane for the bulk loading dock. This will enable the port to load a wider variety of products for waterways shipment.

&uot;I have absolutely no doubt that we need the crane and a concrete road to the dock to make it a better facility,&uot; Murphy said. &uot;It will cost money, but it will benefit us in the long run.&uot;

Supervisor Darryl Grennell asked Murphy if he thought the port would be able to repay its indebtedness to the county in the next year.

&uot;That will depend on the people we do business with to do well,&uot; Murphy said. &uot;And there has been a downturn.&uot;

Board President Virginia Salmon said she believes the port has turned an important corner in its financial survival. &uot;I’m optimistic about the port’s future,&uot; Salmon said. &uot;I know that Pat Murphy will continue to grow that industry out there — I think getting the linerboard back was wonderful. It’s a very good sign.&uot;