lombardocornesswearinginStanding, from left, Morgan City Harbor and Terminal District Attorney Gerard Bourgeois swears in new port
commissioners Troy Lombardo and Steven Cornes at the start of Monday’s commission meeting.

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Despite the partial federal government shutdown, the first meeting of 2019 for the Morgan City Harbor and
Terminal District Commission went on mostly as it normally does.  Two new commissioners, Steven Cornes and Troy Lombardo, were sworn in at the start Monday’s meeting. The commission also elected Joe Cain as commission president, Lee Dragna as vice president, Deborah Garber as treasurer and Tim Matthews as  secretary.  Officials with the U.S. Coast Guard were unable to attend the meeting due to the partial
s h u t d o w n , P o r t Executive Director Raymond “Mac” Wade said. Wade gave the Coast Guard’s monthly report.  As of December 2018, vessel traffic through Morgan City was up 1.4 percent compared to 2017, he said.  Mike Knobloch, port special projects coordinator, said the partial shutdown may affect the 2019  federal Port Security Grant Program.  Normally, the grant awards are announced in April or May. But “if
things don’t change,” theannouncement may be delayed, Knobloch said.  Tim Connell, Atchafalaya region  manager for the U.S. ArmyCorps of Engineers, joined the meeting byphone, which he often does anyway. The projected crest of the Atchafalaya River at Morgan City is 6.4 feet Jan. 24, Connell said.  The region is having “uncharacteristically high water” for the winter, and officials aren’t sure how high the spring crest may be, he said.  “But we’re all expecting it to be a lot of water this year,” Connell said.  For the project to
dredge the Atchafalaya River Bar Channel, the contractor, Brice Civil Construction, is aiming to be onsite within by the 150-day deadline from the time the contract was awarded Sept. 24, 2018, Connell said.
However, the contractor might end up arriving slightly later, he said.  Brice could be ready to work in the bar channel by mid-April, Wade said. The company plans to use an offshore support vessel with a drag arm
reduce the density of the fluid mud in the channel, so that vessels can navigate through the waterway. Corps officials don’t know yet when bid opening may be for Bayou Chene maintenance dredging. Notice to proceed on a dredging contract in the Atchafalaya River Bay is expected to start sometime in March, Connell stated in his report. The Corps is short on funds to dredge Mississippi River and Tributaries projects, which include Stouts Pass and the Morgan City harbor, and it’s uncertain how much funding will be available to
dredge those areas,  Connell said. Lee Babin of Morgan City Stevedores expressed frustration over the delay in dredging projects. He’s been in contact with import-export companies who are interested in shipping goods through Morgan City, but they have to see action begin on the dredging projects, Babin said. Also at the meeting, Jeremy Meaux of Darnall Sikes & Frederick presented the district’s annual audit report for the
fiscal year ended June 30, 2018. Auditors issued an unmodified opinion, the most favorable possible, on the district’s financial statements, Meaux said.  The audit included one finding for inadequate segregation of accounting functions. The matter was resolved Jan. 1, 2018, with an increase in the controls of the entity. 
But the issue had to be listed as a finding, because it hadn’t yet been resolved for 12 months at the time of the audit, Meaux said.
In other business, the commission
—Approved a resolution providing for the execution of certain banking agreements.
—Approved Haliburton Energy Services’ request keep its lease of port property at $4,000 a month for five
more years.
—Approved a bareboat charter for Matthews Brothers to lease the barge John Wayne at a cost of $700 per day for six months with a six-month option. If the company cancels the lease, the port gets all improve-
ments made to the barge.
—Authorized the new commission president to sign on documents that the previous president had already been authorized to sign.
Published by Daily Review January 15, 2019