$400,000 in grants go to port, education projects

Friday, December 13, 2002

Business Today

The Southeast Missouri Regional Port at Scott City and Southeast Missouri State University each will receive $200,000 grants from the federal Delta Regional Authority for construction that could lead to expanded industry and educational opportunities in the region.

The two projects - one at the port and another at the Kennett Higher Education Center - represent nearly $1 million in public and private investments.

The port will use its share as part of a $548,000 project to build up low-lying areas at the Mississippi River port with dirt and rock to keep the ground from flooding.

Besides the federal grant, the project will be funded with $250,000 from Lone Star Industries, which operates a cement plant in Cape Girardeau. Lone Star also is providing $48,000 worth of dirt and rock from its future quarry site on Route AB near the port as fill material. The port is paying the remaining $50,000 in cost.

Dan Overbey, port director, said most of the earth work will be in a site west of the harbor covering six to eight acres. The land there will be raised about 20 feet to get it above the 500-year flood level, he said.

Once completed, Overbey said, the port authority hopes to attract new industry to the port. The port currently is home to six businesses. They are:

-- Twenty Harbor Road grain-bagging plant;

-- Girardeau Stevedores and Contractors, who operate the public terminal dock;

-- Midwest Agri-Chemico fertilizer distributor;

-- First Missouri Terminals fertilizer distributor;

-- Midwest Grain and Barge; and

-- Consolidated Grain and Barge.

Some of the fill material also will be used in a 6-acre tract near the port railroad to raise it up about 2 feet above its current elevation to protect it from flooding, Overbey said.

"If weather is good, we might get started in March," said Overbey. But he said a May start is more likely given the typically wet weather in April. The project should be completed during the summer.

The second $200,000 grant will be used by Southeast Missouri State University as part of a $400,000 project to add four new classrooms, including an interactive television classroom, to the Kennett Higher Education Center.

The other $200,000 for the project will come from private donations, school officials said.

Construction could begin in December and be completed by the start of classes next fall. The project will double the number of classrooms in the former grocery store that opened as a higher education center in June 2000.

About 700 students currently are enrolled in Southeast and Three Rivers Community College classes at the Kennett center, school officials said.

U.S. Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., announced the grant awards from the Delta Regional Authority which has a goal of promoting economic development along the Mississippi River.

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