Missouri River Stakeholders Meet With Corps, Coast Guard

If there’s one thing Missouri River stakeholders want shippers to know, it’s that the river is open for business and has been for a long time. That statement was recurrent throughout the one-day meeting held in Kansas City, Mo., February 13.

Approximately 150 attendees—the best-attended meeting for the group so far, according to some—joined in discussions on freight movements at Missouri River ports and terminals, river and business challenges and opportunities, and government briefings.

“I thought the meeting went very well,” said Mitch Roberts, navigation business line manager for the Kansas City Engineer District. “The meeting provides a great forum for the navigation community to vocalize its accomplishments from the previous year, as well as challenges, opportunities and concerns to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Coast Guard in a cooperative manner. It has been successful in building positive working relationships in the river basin.”

The annual meeting allows for stakeholders to come together with government representatives from both the Coast Guard and the Corps of Engineers to discuss issues that impact the river and their businesses.

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“As an industry, we continue to be frustrated with some issues and have a hard time moving them forward,” said Lucy Fletcher, business development manager of AGRIServices of Brunswick (Mo.). “We seem to be addressing the same issues every single year. On the Corps’ side, we seem to be addressing different issues every year.”

Fletcher said there is interest from the Corps in holding a meeting with Missouri River stakeholders in the spring to discuss revitalization and to also help move forward the Lower Missouri River Study that was authorized by the Water Resources Development Act 2018 and co-sponsored by Port KC.

In addition to Corps, Coast Guard and representatives from the National Weather Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, several port and Missouri River business leaders presented on how 2018 shaped up and what the industry could expect from them this year.

Speakers included Jon Stephens, president and CEO of Port KC; Capt. Steve Engemann, president of Hermann Sand & Gravel Inc. and Missouri River Towing LLC; Doug Bonderer, operations manager for AGRIServices of Brunswick; Brad Lau, vice president of economic development for the St. Joseph Economic Development Partnership and executive director of the St. Joseph Regional Port Authority; John Fletcher, founder and general manager of Central Missouri AGRIService LLC; J. Chris Klenklen, deputy director of the Grain Inspection and Warehousing division at the Missouri Department of Agriculture; and Michelle Hataway with the Missouri Department of Economic Development.

The Waterways Journal will have more in-depth stories from this meeting in upcoming issues.