State committee's public hearing taking place at port

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Who says field trips are reserved for students during the school year?

Today, the Missouri Legislative Joint Interim Committee on Multimodal Transportation Services will make an out-of-session summer trip to Southeast Missouri for a quick tour of the New Madrid and SEMO Regional Port Authorities. The purpose of the trip will be for the committee to look into the needs of Missouri's ports, and hold open forum meetings to hear and address public concerns and ideas on the situation.

That public hearing will be held at the SEMO Port Authority at 1:30 p.m. today, following the committee's tour of the site.

"We need to educate ourselves," said Sen. John Griesheimer, (R-Washington), chairman of the Joint Committee.

He said that over the past few years, state funding to help support Missouri's ports has been cut dramatically. He said the committee members will use this trip to see first-hand some of the problems facing those ports and investigate ways in which the government may be able to help within the constraints of limited state funds.

Joint interim committees are temporary panels featuring members of both state legislative bodies -- five senators and five representatives -- that are authorized to meet when the legislature is out of session. They typically do so to study particular issues, and in the case of the multimodal transportation group, those issues pertain to rail, air, roadways and in this case, waterways.

When the committee convenes at the SEMO Port Authority in Scott City at noon on today, the discourse will no doubt veer toward the topic of government aid to ports to supplement capital and administrative improvements. Specifically, the port authority is seeking aid in the construction of more warehouse space and completion of the fill-in of about 30 acres of land for additional industrial sites.

Bev Smothers, manager of finance with the SEMO Port Authority, estimated the combined total of funds needed for those two projects to be about $1.8 million.

335-6611, extension 137

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