Missouri River in the News: River port celebrates official opening

October 11, 2018: News-Press Now.com (full link below)

River port celebrates official opening

The culmination of three decades of local and state effort was celebrated Thursday with the formal opening of St. Joseph’s Missouri River port.

Officials held the ceremony as workers toiled to unload steel coil that had been carried aboard two barges and was bound for Atchison, Kansas. Transport 360, a newly formed division of MK Minerals Inc. in Wathena, Kansas, is the facility’s operator. The first, albeit empty, barge docked at the port in early August.

Dick DeShon, chairman of the St. Joseph Regional Port Authority board, said he and fellow member Ron Blakely are among those who have been waiting patiently over the years for the business to commence. He said the steel being unloaded from the barges came from Turkey and was then being delivered to Atchison Tubular Services.

“This is historic for us today,” he told a crowd of guests gathered for the occasion inside the port’s bulk storage shed. “We’ve gotten a lot of flak for not having barges on the river. Our job is to bring businesses that use freight to this facility.”

DeShon added the port’s proximity to major highways and the local freight rail system prove an important point in St. Joseph’s favor for helping transit river commerce.

“That makes us a national hub,” he said.

The authority also has been instrumental in helping redevelop the nearby Stockyards area in recent years, according to DeShon.

“We take a large part of that credit,” he told the crowd.

The port will operate weekdays and work weekends as needed and will move grains among other forms of merchandise.

Besides trucks to help with the transport, Union Pacific Railroad also soon will join in helping ferry the freight to various destinations. Modifications to a switch track will enable the company to become involved with port activity by sometime in mid-November.