Kennison Re-Elected Port Board President

SULPHUR — Sulphur businessman Joseph R. “Dick” Kennison was reelected president of the West Calcasieu Port board of commissioners   during the port board’s October monthly meeting.

The term is for one year. The five-member   board also re-elected Wilmer Dugas as vice president and Tim Dougherty as secretary/ treasurer.

Kennison is a 46-year veteran of the forestry and lumber industry. He serves as chairman and chief executive officer for Sulphur-based Kennison Forest Products, a position he has held since 1997. Prior to that, he was president of Ken for Division of Elder Forest Products in Sulphur for 18 years.

Kennison’s extensive community service includes six years on the Sulphur City Council (serving twice as council chairman) and West Calcasieu Chamber of Commerce member (president in   2003). He has served as chairman of Chamber Southwest Board of Directors in 2008, Rotary Club of Sulphur, Care Help Inc. of Sulphur, Sulphur Industrial Development Board, West Cal Cam Hospital Finance Committee and IRB Board for the Lake Charles Memorial Hospital.

Currently, he serves on United Way of Southwest Louisiana board of directors, Care Help of Sulphur board of directors, the West   Calcasieu-Cameron Hospital finance committee, and a second term as president of the Sulphur Rotary Club.

Kennison was named the city of Sulphur Volunteer of the Year (2005), the Outstanding Service Award by the Habitat for Humanity (2002), the WCAC Citizen of the Year (2002), the YMBC President’s Award (1980) and the Rotarian of the Year (2011-2012).

He is a U.S. Air Force veteran (1966-1969) and Vietnam veteran (1968-1969).

West Calcasieu Port makes 11.5-acre Land Purchase

SULPHUR, La, Oct. 26, 2015 – West Calcasieu Port officials announced today that the port has completed the $1.5 million purchase of 11.5 acres of adjacent property to the facility on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.
“The additional property will increase port acreage to more than 200 acres,” said Lynn Hohensee, West Calcasieu Port director, “and it will expand the port GIWW waterfront by more than 700 linear feet, which the port will make available for lease to prospective tenants.”
Hohensee noted that the port expansion would not have been possible without the financial assistance via a $750,000 capital outlay grant from the Louisiana State Legislature.
“Most of the credit for procuring the capital outlay grant goes to Sen. John Smith, Sen. Ronnie Johns, Rep. Mike Danahay and the rest of our Southwest Louisiana delegation,” he added. “We believe these elected officials recognize the importance of the port expansion to our regional economic growth.

“With the expansion of our facility footprint, the port’s leadership team is better able to address the region’s growing demand for industrial acreage and waterfront access,” Hohensee explained.
He also emphasized that accommodating additional tenants is not the port’s only priority.

“A portion of the new property will be set aside for construction of a new port entrance road, which will improve port access and ease the amount of industrial traffic traveling through a nearby residential area,” Hohensee said.

“To reach the port’s current entrance, tenants, suppliers and visitors must travel through our nearby residential neighborhood,” he explained. “With a new entrance road, most of that traffic will be diverted onto port property before reaching the residential area.”

The West Calcasieu Port offers waterfront property on the GIWW as well as more than 100 of its 213 waterfront access acres available for leased development.

See the full-res map here.

Hohensee: Tenant Synergy a Strong Element of West Cal Port

The West Calcasieu Port currently has seven tenants. Port Director Lynn Hohense said they make up a family of tenants with mutually beneficial skills.

“Tenant synergy is a strong element of our culture at this port,” he said.

The oldest and largest, Devall Enterprises, provides fueling, towing, fleeting, barge cleaning, and diesel repair services and handles all of the waterway activities at the port.

Orion Marine Group (formerly F. Miller and Sons), a heavy civil marine contractor, recently negotiated a five-year lease agreement extension for its marine construction services, dredging, repair and maintenance salvage, underwater inspection and a dozen other marine services. The company has been with the port since 2009.

River Barge Works, with the port since 2013, specializes in cleaning dry barges. These are barges that ship petroleum coke, scrap iron, grains, other non-liquid-type products. They have been on board for about two years and they lease space on the barge basin. Also joining the port in 2013 was United States Environmental Services. They provide dry barge cleaning and wet barge cleaning and scraping. That year USES partnered with Tresco. Tresco scrapes the the bottom of barges and stores whatever chemicals it recovers in mobile storage facilities located on-site which are then shipped off for recycling.

In January of this year, Tauber Oil Co. come onboard. The company’s 30,000-barrel-capacity refueling barge supplies vessels on the Intracoastal Waterway with ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel.

The most recent addition to the port’s list of tenants is CEMEX Cement of Louisiana. The company currently provides concrete support across the Intracoastal for Sempra through contractor CBI.

Hohensee said there is a strong possibility of an eighth tenant by year’s end.

“And we’re looking for more,” he said.

West Calcasieu Port Director Lynn Hohensee is also Serving as Part-Time Director for the Port of Vinton

   Since January, Lynn Hohensee has served as director for the Port of Vinton, a shallow-water port that sits on 806 acres of land.

   Created in 1956, the port currently houses two tenants,   Dunham Price and Performance Blasting and Coating. That leaves 600 acres of property available for lease.

   Hohensee said the overall goal is for the port to   partner with private businesses as tenants in an effort to create employees in the community, grow the tax base and grow infrastructure and investment. While Vinton residents and some tenants are aware of the port, he said work is being done to make the port more known outside the city.

   “How do we bring that knowledge of our port and our availability and what we have to offer to prospects that want to got some jackpot progressive from,” he said.

   Because the Vinton port board “recognized that there’s growth coming to Southwest Louisiana,” Hohensee said that discussions soon began between him and Charles Broussard, port board member and former board president. Before Hohensee became port director, Broussard said the port president also acted as its director.

   “I kept saying to myself, ‘I can’t handle this job,’ ” Broussard said. “Finally, I told the board, we need to hire a port director part-time.”

   Hohensee has also been director of the West Calcasieu Port for the past nine years. He said both the Vinton and West Calcasieu   ports are smaller ports “that don’t have the revenue stream” that the Port of Lake Charles does.

   “So there’s a need to be   conscious of how you approach staffing,” Hohensee said. “The funding isn’t there to put together a full staff, and so contracting is the first step to go in that direction. As the port grows, it can expand its abilities to handle administration.”

   The port has a contract for a port attorney and an engineer. He said the Vinton city clerk assists the port with accounting activities.

   Hohensee said work was done to make sure there were no conflicts of interest between the Vinton and West Calcasieu ports. He said the ports in Southwest Louisiana have a “tremendously good working relationship and a synergy between them.”

   “Each port relatively has its own niche,” Hohensee said.

   Hohensee said the Port of Vinton is “an economic development engine” that has value in its   “considerable amount of land.” While the West Calcasieu Port is located close to the Intracoastal Waterway, it has a “tremendous limitation on land” available, with only 190 acres available, and about 40 percent of it being wetlands, he said.

   Hohensee describes the port as being “intermodal” because of its potential for transportation on water and land.

   “Our region is not just a oneport region,” he said.

   Some tracts of land have access to water via the Vinton   Navigation Channel, which feeds into the Intracoastal Waterway.

   “It is navigable; it’s not just like a drainage ditch,” he said. “Barges can move up and down it. One of our tenants, Dunham Price, has their own barge-loading facilities located here.”

   The port is also an industrial park, with a number of tracts available to tenants who don’t need waterfront access, Hohensee said.

   Hohensee said the “secret jewel” that the port has is that its location allows it to “equally service distance-wise” Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana. The port is also located about two miles off Interstate 10.

   Hohensee said part of his role as port director is to represent the port at the local, regional and state activities within the marine and transportation industries and with government entities like the city of Vinton, the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury and the state Department of Transportation and Development.

   Hohensee said he recently received word that a one-mile extension road will be built from the port to where La. 108 joins with Interstate 10. He said the Police Jury has funding support to build the road, but that the parish is working with the Army Corps of Engineers on wetland delineation. Construction on the access road could start as early as this fall or the winter of this year.

   “That is a tremendous enhancement for who are considering this port as a place to locate,” he said.

   Hohensee said the Vinton Navigation Channel has needs for dredging so the waterway is deep enough for safe navigation. He said he is working with the Army Corps of Engineering to dredge the mouth of the channel. He said he is working with a neighboring property owned by Gray Estate to use the dredged spoils that would be beneficial to the environment.

   Jerry Merchant, port board president, said there has been more activity at the port over the last two decades.

   “We have something that some areas don’t have; we actually have dry land.”

Poised for Growth: West Cal Port Ready, Williang, Able for Expansion

In a recent interview with the Daily News, West Calcasieu Port Director Lynn Hohensee and Port Board President Dick Kennison talked about how the port is situated to handle the massive industrial expansion going on all around it and how it got there.

The West Calcasieu Port is a shallow-water port located west of the Ellender Bridge in Hackberry, along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, two miles west of the Calcasieu River Ship Channel. It was formed in the mid-1960s by state legislative action.

Of the 190 acres that make up the port, about 40 percent is wetlands, according to Hohensee, leaving 60 percent usable.

In 2005, the port’s governing authority, the West Calcasieu Port Board Authority, realizing that much of their available land was under-utilized, commissioned a study to look at possible uses. The study recommended that a part-time marketing director be hired for the port. Hohensee said that in the first half of 2006, the board decided they needed more than a marketing director and he was hired in June of 2006 to serve on a part-time contract basis as overall director. Also hired that year were attorney Glen James, CPA Darla Perry, and Sulphur engineering firm Meyer and Associates.

“We were able to start getting the snowball rolling on growing the port,” he said.

A $50,000 grant from the Louisiana Economic Development helped fund a master strategic plan for the port, which gave the board an idea of where they wanted to be and where they wanted to go.

“We’re looking to revisit that plan soon to reflect changes,” said Hohensee. He said that at the time the study was commissioned, there were not the growth opportunities and potential that the region has now.

“From 2007 on we started to really develop and experience some growth out here,” said Hohensee. “Daily barge counts exceeding 100 became the norm in 2014.”

He said that Mike Devall with Devall Towing, which handles all waterway activity at the port, anticipates this growth will continue and that daily barges will double by 2020.

“We were doing 40 to 50 a day nine years ago,” said Hohensee. “Today we do between 100 and 130 barges a day.”

Barge counts aren’t the only indicator of growth. In 2007, the port’s net assets were pegged at $2.9 million and the operating budget was $128,287. By year’s end 2014, port assets totaled $10.4 million and the budget was $395,497.

“The fact that we have six ports and a robust pipeline network has helped attract industrial development,” said George Swift, President and CEO of the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance.

“Our research indicates we are the reigning leader nationally with $32 billion in projects currently underway and proposed projects for a combined $86 billion,” he continued, “The West Calcasieu Port is very important with its location on the Intracoastal Canal. They’ve been very aggressive in recruiting tenants and expanding, which helps the entire area.”

[if !supportLists]·         [endif]Swift said all six ports provide different services to different sectors.

“Our niche is not a cargo port for moving freight through,” said Hohensee. “Our niche – and it has evolved – is providing marine services like barge fleeting, marine construction, dry barge cleaning, wet barge cleaning and stripping, marine fueling and concrete production.”

There are currently several tracts of land available for lease at the port. One of them, a 40-acre tract of land, is used as a dredged spoils containment area. Hohensee said the land, which will eventually be available to lease, is a prime spot as it is right on the canal and already built up for construction.

The port receives no tax dollars. Funding is solely from lease agreements with the port’s seven tenants and water the port sells to them. The Carlyss Waterworks has a 6-inch water line that runs to the port and the port extended it to run to tenants.

The West Calcasieu Port Board is comprised of five members. Appointments are made based on recommendations from the Mayor of Sulphur, the Sulphur City Council, West Calcasieu Parish Police Jury members, the West Calcasieu Chamber of Commerce and the Building and Trades Council. Current members are President Dick Kennison, Wilmer Dugas, Tim Daugherty, Dave Aguillard and Scott Foreman.

“Dick has done a superb job of leading the board and that’s one of the things that makes my job easy,” said Hohensee. “It’s an incredibly progressive board that understands the path that we’re going and subscribes to the ideas that we bring them – not all of them. They challenge, and they question but we work it out. They are very supportive and they deserve a lot of the credit.”

“We don’t rubber stamp anything,” added Kennison.

The port also has a Tenant Committee which considers applications for leasing to see if the proposed business would fit well with the other tenants. Chuck Stutes with Meyer and Associates, Glen James, Kennison, Perry and Hohensee serve on the board.

“We take the fiduciary responsibility we have very seriously,” said Hohensee, “As well as our responsibility to maximize the port’s potential, our responsibility to our tenants and to be good neighbors.”

The port’s oldest tenant, Devall Enterprises, has a lease agreement with the port through 2037. Both Hohensee and Kennison said the importance of Devall Enterprises as a tenant cannot be overstated.

“Devall is the dog and everybody else there is part of the tail,” said Kennison. “Devall is almost exclusively responsible for everybody else being here as a result of their presence and reputation.”

[if !supportLists]·         [endif]On July 1, 2014, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held for a new $640,000 barge loading ramp. The 80,000-pound capacity ramp was funded by a significant grant from Devall Towing and is accessible by a 700-foot hard-surface road, The road and its related infrastructure were funded through two economic development grants from the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury totaling $352,000. Hohensee said the barge project would not have been possible without the funding support from Devall.

“This demonstrates the importance of public/private partnerships,” he said.

Hohensee said that supplemental funding for the port comes from grants from the City of Sulphur, the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury’s economic development fund, the Department of Transportation and Development’s (DOTD) Port Priority Fund and federal grants. The DOTD funded maintenance dredging on the barge basin in 2009 and an 800-linear-ft. extension and some expansion of the barge basin that was complete in 2012. The port also secured $3 million in bonds in 2013 that they use as matching funds in applications for capital outlay funding grants from the state.

Hohensee said watching the port grow has been like watching a child move from toddler to teen to adult. He said that he enjoyed his 28-year military career and 30-year career in the local petroleum industry.

“But I love my job now,” he said.

Hohensee also praised the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury.

“In my estimation, much of what is going on (with industrial expansion) starts with the Police Jury,” he said. “I have to give them all the credit for all the good things so far and for their stewardship and forward-thinking.”

“Calcasieu Parish will probably be a shining star for years to come,” he said.