Funds would build road to New Madrid County mill
NEW MADRID - The New Madrid County Port is one of 10 projects set to receive funding from a federal commission promoting economic development.
Timmie Lynn Hunter, executive director of the New Madrid County Port, said a grant is to provide $127,870 from the Delta Regional Authority. The money will be used to improve a road at the port to Riceland Industries.
The Delta Regional Authority, which was created by federal legislation in December 2000, allocates money for economic development to Kentucky, Illinois, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Kentucky and Missouri.
The Missouri commission was appointed by Gov. Bob Holden, a member of the DRA board, to recommend projects that would qualify for the money. Holden recommended that the money Congress appropriated for Missouri be divided among 10 projects statewide.
"This is considered a job retaining project," said Hunter. She explained the road improvements were requested earlier by one of the largest purchasers of rice from Louis-Dreyfus Co. The buyer, she said, was unhappy because trucks using the gravel road to the rice dump pit would pick up rocks in their tires and some of the rocks would fall into the pit along with the rice.
"We've tried for several years to find funding for this project," said Hunter, noting it was done first on behalf of Louis-Dreyfus and now by Riceland, which purchased the processing plant. Last year the Port Authority Director said two grants were sought from the Delta Regional Authority but denied, however the grant applications were resubmitted in 2003 and one approved.
The project will provide for commercial-grade concrete to be laid from the guard shack to the truck scales at the office of Riceland. Hunter predicted the project should be fully-funded in October with work to begin at the end of this year or early 2004.
The full cost of the road project is $242,720. In addition to the grant, Riceland is making a substantial match. New Madrid County is providing in-kind labor through dirt work on the project and the Port office will provide in-kind services through administrating the grant, Hunter said.
"We are very fortunate to have those two entities help us too. Their willingness to take part seems to have played role in receiving grant funding," she said.
The second phase of the project, which did not receive funding approval, is to put truck scales at harbor site. Hunter said this would help move traffic off main line levee during peak harvest times. She indicated the Port Authority would apply again for funding through the Regional Authority as well as seek other sources of monies.
As a state commissioner with the Delta Regional Authority, Hunter had the opportunity to take part in the selection of grant recipients for the past two years. Noting her projects did not receive funding in 2002, Hunter laughed and said: "We don't play favorites.
"I think with so many of these projects the commission was looking for projects, like ours which used other funds to leverage the work," she said. "This was one of the reasons we could give out so many grants with such small amount of money."
Also set to receive funding from the Delta Regional Authority is the City of Lilbourn. Approximately $11,000 in money was awarded to assist the community with the construction of a railroad spur to the Great River Soy/Sun Processing Plant, which is to locate in Lilbourn. The money will be added to another grant already received from Missouri for the project, Lilbourn Mayor Frank Ash said.
Scott and Cape Girardeau counties, the Southeast Missouri Regional Port Authority and Southeast Missouri State University also are to get funds.