Vidalia plans to revive port commission

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 30, 2010

VIDALIA — Now that the base funding for the Vidalia Port project has been granted, the City of Vidalia will reactivate the Vidalia Port Commission.

The port commission was actually formed by a legislative act in 1981, but has been inactive for several years, and some of its members have died, Mayor Hyram Copeland said.

“We are going to reactivate the port commission in March, and recommend putting new members on it,” Copeland said. “We want to look at who would be interested to serve on it and who might have some knowledge of the river.”

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At the time the commission was created, the city had a very broad plan for a port, and Copeland said that commission members worked with the city to learn about other port projects.

“We bought 20 acres south of Bunge, and that is where we intended on the port going at the time, but we have since realized wasn’t a good location and wasn’t going to be big enough,” Copeland said.

When the commission is reactivated, it will — according to the legislation creating it — have the authority to, “regulate the commerce and traffic within such port area in such manner as may, in its judgment, be for the best interest of the state.”

It will also, “have charge of and administer public wharves, docks, sheds, and landings and may construct or acquire and equip wharves and landings and other structures useful for the commerce of the port area and provide mechanical facilities.”

The commission is also allowed — with the approval of voters — to levy a 2.5-mil tax.

The current planned port location is on 240 acres south of town near the second Vidalia Industrial Park, which is located near the intersection of D.A. Biglane Road and Louisiana 131.

Approximately $2.7 million in federal funds have been dedicated to the port, including funds specifically earmarked for construction.