Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear.

Beshear Elected Tenn-Tom Authority Chairman

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has been elected by the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority to serve as its 2023 chairman.

Members cited Beshear’s support of the inland waterways system during his time in office, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

Beshear was instrumental in helping to implement the Kentucky Lake Research Project, an experimental system using netting, pumping, lights and sounds to target and eradicate invasive carp and restore tourism at Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley.

Beshear also awarded $500,000 grants to four Kentucky riverports, including the Paducah-McCracken County Riverport Authority for the construction of a steel commodity hopper and gate system. He also announced that River View Coal LLC would create 260 new jobs and invest $35 million in Henderson County for barging coal.

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Beshear’s father, former Gov. Steve Beshear, served as chairman of the authority in 2011 and 2015.

“The state of Kentucky has been blessed with tremendous water resources, which provide great opportunities for commerce, recreation and tourism,” Andy Beshear said. “It is a pleasure to serve as chairman of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority for 2023 to help expand on those opportunities for future growth. Ports and waterways directly contribute $2.5 billion to the Kentucky economy and support over 15,000 Kentucky jobs. The Tenn-Tom Waterway provides a vital link to the Gulf of Mexico and the world to Kentucky business and industry. I look forward to working with the member states of the authority to promote our waterways while keeping focus on the authority’s stated mission.”

The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority is a four-state interstate compact comprising the states of Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee, and ratified by Congress in 1958 to promote the development of the Tenn-Tom Waterway and its economic and trade potential. Members include the governors of each member state and five appointees by the four governors for a total of 24 members. Chairmanship rotates annually among the four governors.

“There are many challenges facing the inland waterway system, and Gov. Beshear’s leadership is vital to our efforts with the US. Army Corps of Engineers and waterway stakeholders,” said Mitch Mays, administrator for the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority. “The authority is looking forward to working closely with Gov. Beshear in order to ensure that the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway continues to make a positive impact for all members of the compact.”

The waterway compact will also be led in 2023 by John McConnell of Murray, Ky., as vice-chairman and T.L. “Bud” Phillips of Columbus, Miss., who was re-elected as treasurer.

McConnell is an insurance professional with more than 25 years of experience who has been a member of the authority since 2020. Phillips, a businessman, is the longest-serving member of the authority, having first been appointed in 1988.

“It will be an honor to assist Gov. Beshear as he serves as chairman in 2023,” McConnell said. “I am excited about promoting the mission of the Tenn-Tom Waterway in all our future endeavors.”