Supervisors ponder whether to repair crane

Published 10:18 am Tuesday, February 23, 2016

There are still no answers for the cause or amount of damage done on the crucial crane during a fire last week at the Vicksburg port.

Wayne Mansfield, Warren County Port Commission executive director, met with the Warren County Board of Supervisors Monday in an informal work meeting to discuss the next steps that need to be taken by the county.

“The key things we need to determine is cost and timeline,” Mansfield said.

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The board discussed their two options: repair or replace. Mansfield said he thought they could fund a new crane through a Port Revolving Loan Fund in 45 days. District 5 Supervisor Richard George was hesitant because the board would still need to create a plan to repay that loan. Austin Golding, of Golding Barge Line, agreed saying they would need time to design the new crane even though they could get the money relatively quick.

“The cheapest and quickest way is to go back in there, repair it and go on,” Mansfield said.

The damage is believed to be isolated and the repairs could possibly be taken care of quickly, but the county has not been able to assess the needed repairs. Watco Companies LLC, the company that is leased to operate the crane to move products for a number of companies, is not allowing access to the crane site while the fire is being investigated.

“Watco is trying to gather information to see what created this,” Mansfield said.

The crane had recently been repaired by the county and Konecranes of West Monroe, La. The company said they would have an employee in town this week that could assess the damage if necessary. Mansfield said the county engineers were allowed to take pictures onsite, but it would be beneficial to have a crane vendor look at the damage.

“To get a full idea of the cost to get it repaired, we don’t know until we can get somebody on the site to get that estimate done,” Mansfield said.

Right now the board is not overly concerned with pointing fingers as to who caused the fire and how it started.

Mansfield said everyday without a crane deters business, which creates a sense of urgency in getting the crane working.

“It hinders the ability to recruit business,” Mansfield said.

George said they are focusing on getting it back in operation because every day without it in use is loosing money.

The supervisors discussed a daily penalty of $312.50 the county may be contractually obligated to pay Watco while the crane is out of operation.

“Richard George was very correct in saying we have the responsibility to make sure that this thing is operating,” Mansfield said.