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GROWING AT THE PORT

Avoyelles Port Commission President Barry Laiche (right) discusses plans for the use of 70 riverfront acres purchased with a $420,000 grant from the Red River Waterway Commission with (bottom to top) RRWC’s Avoyelles member Larry Sayes, State Rep.-Elect Daryl Deshotel and Port Commission Vice President Scott Williams. {Photo by Raymond L. Daye}

Avoyelles Port Commission buys 70 riverfront acres

Red River Waterway gives $420,000 grant

In the immediate sense, the Port of Avoyelles is increasing its net worth by $420,000.

The long-term value of the recent acquisition of 70 acres of prime Atchafalaya Riverfront property could be considerably more, Port Commission President Barry Laiche said. The property was recently purchased from Joffrion Family Properties with a $420,000 grant from the Red River Waterway Commission.

“We, and the Red River Waterway Commission, see the Port of Avoyelles as the gateway to the Red River,” Laiche said.

The purchase moves the port one step closer to its goal of establishing a multi-use dock to load and unload various cargoes at the port. Laiche said port tenant Helena Chemicals has expressed its interest in expanding its liquid fertilizer operation.

“We have applied for state funds to add a 1 million-gallon storage tank and off-loading facility,” Laiche said. “We currently have 1.5 million gallon capacity. This would increase that to 2.5 million gallons.”

While the Port Commission was already planning to construct the multi-use dock facility once funding was secured, the recent addition “is a much better site for a permanent dock,” Laiche added.

FUNDED BY RRWC TAX

RRWC member Larry Sayes, who represents Avoyelles, said this and other river-related projects in the parish are funded by a 2.34-mill property tax collected in the seven parishes that border Red River.

Many times the RRWC uses the money as matching funds to secure federal or state grants, “but in this case we felt it was a good use of those funds to go ahead and purchase the property.”

Laiche said the purchase has been approved and a buy-sell agreement is in place.

The RRWC funds will soon be transferred to the Port Commission. The sale will be finalized soon after that.

State Rep.-Elect Daryl Deshotel said he believes the port “is an integral part of this parish’s future” and the expansion of its riverfront acreage will lead to future economic development.

He also praised Sayes for “making sure Avoyelles Parish gets its fair share of attention” from the Waterway Commission.

ENHANCE DEVELOPMENT

Port Commission Vice President Scott Williams said the land purchase “will increase our footprint on the river and enhance development.

“We had the opportunity to purchase this property with the help of the Red River Waterway Commission,” Williams said. “It will be a big asset to this parish in the years to come.” While the purchase of the property, and the potential for industrial development that it represents, is obviously good news for the parish, Deshotel pointed out another piece of good news for the future.

“It is good to see government entities working together for the betterment of the parish,” Deshotel said. “That is the way government is supposed to work and it is good to see that it is working.”

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