Milestone Anniversaries For Port and Ship Channel
Community leaders in the 1920s had the foresight to open Calcasieu Parish to maritime business, and even if they couldn’t predict today’s massive economic boom, they understood that a deepwater port would transform Southwest Louisiana into a thriving economic powerhouse.
This year, the Port of Lake Charles celebrates a long and rich 90-year history as the region’s leading economic driver. Simultaneously this year, the Calcasieu Ship Channel also celebrates its 75th anniversary. The waterway was engineered in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s to straighten, widen and deepen the Calcasieu River from Lake Charles to the Gulf of Mexico, making Lake Charles a deepwater port, although it is 36 miles inland.
The ship channel became a highway for the delivery of goods, both inbound and outbound, and dozens of companies built facilities on the channel to produce, process, send or receive those goods. Because of this growth, the Port of Lake Charles has grown to become the 11th-busiest port in the United States by tonnage, according to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers figures for 2013, the latest year available.
Southern Ionics, Inc., Signs Lease With Port
The Port of Lake Charles board of commissioners recently authorized executive director Bill Rase to enter into a lease agreement with Southern Ionics, Inc., for the use of the District’s Warehouse 15-B and land located at City Docks. The initial term for the agreement will be five years with two additional five-year terms.
Southern Ionics, Inc. is a corporation that manufactures and ships sulfur, alumina, aqua-ammonia and zirconium chemicals. The products have widespread use for wastewater treatment, air pollution control, catalyst manufacturing, drilling mud additives and other industrial applications. The company has locations across the southeastern United States, including Baton Rouge, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, among others.
From the Director’s Desk
Maritime Industry: Then and Now
The maritime industry has always been an integral component of Southwest Louisiana’s history and culture. Deepwater access connects Lake Charles to the Gulf of Mexico, as well as a wider, global economy. We have the Calcasieu Ship Channel to thank for tremendous growth in maritime transportation.
Lumber and agriculture controlled commerce in the region in the early 19th century, and with it came a demand for easy access to resources across Calcasieu Parish. The Intracoastal Canal connecting the Calcasieu and Sabine rivers was completed in 1915, and business leaders saw this as an opportunity to open Calcasieu Parish for maritime business.
In 1924, the Lake Charles Harbor and Terminal District was authorized by the Louisiana Legislature, and on April 2, 1926, the SS Sewalls Point was the first oceangoing vessel to bring cargo to the newly authorized Port of Lake Charles.
An even wider and deeper channel was in demand as local industry continued to boom, and Congress appropriated $9.2 million for channel dredging and construction of the Calcasieu jetties in 1938. As a result, the Calcasieu Ship Channel was dredged from Lake Charles to the Gulf of Mexico 36 miles south, and the channel reached a depth of 33 feet and a width of 250 feet. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the channel was expanded to 40-foot-deep and 400-foot-wide, the current federal mandate.
With the 90th anniversary of the Port arriving in 2016, the public is once again called to see the bigger picture and envision Southwest Louisiana’s best possible future. The importance of the ship channel reaches across the generations, and we must be its caretakers in order to keep our link to the rest of the world open.
Dr. Daryl Burckel Appointed as Board President
The Port is proud to announce that Dr. Daryl Burckel has been appointed the president of its board of commissioners for the 2016-2017 fiscal year. Dr. Burckel, CPA, CVA, is a Professor of Accounting and holds the Thelma and Ray Dingler Endowed Professorship in Business Research at McNeese State University. Dr. Burckel served as Department Chair of the Accounting, Finance and Economic Department from 1996-2002.
Dr. Burckel began his university teaching career at McNeese in 1986 and later taught at the University of New Orleans and Mississippi State before returning to McNeese in 1992. Dr. Burckel has authored numerous reference journal articles in financial accounting, taxation and various business topics. He has presented academic papers at professional meetings, taught continuing education classes for CPAs, and given numerous talks to civic clubs and professional organizations.
Dr. Burckel has provided extensive service to the Southwest Louisiana business community through numerous local and state economic development studies. He has consulted for numerous local governmental entities and directs the work of graduate students on local governmental projects. Dr. Burckel enjoys serving on local and state boards that impact the Southwest Louisiana community.
In addition to Dr. Burckel’s appointment as president, Dudley Dixon has been selected as vice president, Mike Eason has been appointed Secretary/Treasurer and Walter Sanchez has been selected as Assistant Secretary/Treasurer.
Around City Docks
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