JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Gov. Bob Holden is planning to appoint a Bootheel banker and river port overseer as the next member of the state Highways and Transportation Commission, The Associated Press has learned.
Duane Michie, 62, of Hayti said he is excited to serve on the commission, where he could emphasis the importance of barge traffic on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.
Gov. Bob Holden said an announcement would be coming soon, most likely next week.
"I've known Duane Michie for a number of years. He's the type of individual that I want to see in government," Holden said Friday.
The term of commissioner Edward Douglas of Chillicothe expires today. Both Douglas and Michie are Republicans, a requirement to maintain the political balance on the commission.
Michie will be the third person Holden has appointed to the commission in a little over a month -- an unusual occurrence since commissioners serve overlapping six-year terms.
Terms expired in October for Democrats S. Lee Kling of St. Louis, who had been chairman, and William Gladden of Houston. Holden replaced Kling with former Sen. Bill McKenna of Barnhart and replaced Gladden with Jim Anderson, president of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce.
Like his previous appointees, Holden praised Michie's view of transportation for including not just roads and bridges, but also river ports, airports, railroads and public transit.
"He's a consensus-builder, he's got an understanding of a total transportation system for the state of Missouri, and he's someone who is truly committed to making this state a better place for all," Holden said.
Senate President Pro Tem Peter Kinder, R-Cape Girardeau, said he had encouraged Holden to appoint Michie to the commission.
Michie has been chairman of the Pemiscot County Port Authority for more than a decade. He also is chief executive officer of First State Bank and Trust Co. in Caruthersville.
"Transportation is the centermost important issue to economic development," Michie said. "You look the country over and that's really what we're good at. And every area that has grown, has grown because there has been a transportation hub delivering people, goods and services."
The port he oversees handles about 500,000 tons of fertilizer, crops and fiberglass barge cover lids annually, he said. The facility already is near an interstate, but state funding that would help build a railroad spur has been held up because of budget constraints, he said.
More money for ports
Michie said that more state money is needed for river ports. He said he wasn't knowledgeable enough about highway needs to say whether a tax increase is needed for roads.
But he said he did support the 1992, 15-year highway spending blueprint that the transportation commissioner abandoned a few years ago because of a lack of funding. That old plan had favored road projects in rural areas at the expense of urban projects.
Some of the harshest critics of the transportation commission have called for a return to the priorities in the 1992 plan.
Rural residents, including himself, would like to see the change, Michie said. But "it's a matter of is there enough dollars to do it?"
Some transportation commission critics also have opposed plans to raise taxes for any modes of transportation other than highways. Michie takes a broader approach.
"If you're going to develop throughout the state, you've got to have all facets of transportation looked at and reviewed and financed," he said.