The journal of creative community

Supporting the Port

Last night's Morehead City Council meeting is much on my mind this morning.  If anyone else sat through the meeting, you deserve a tee-shirt that says “I survived the August 9th MC Town Council Meeting” for there was no A/C and it was broiling, sweat-dipping off the end of your nose hot...a wonder that tempers were held in check and everyone was so courteous and polite to one another's viewpoints.

We listened, we heard, we spoke—and I learned more about the Port and their business. That was a good thing.

So ever since the meeting, I've been thinking...

I truly recognize and honor both of the viewpoints represented.  The Clean County Coalition wants to protect our community from potential harm of a (possible) sulfur storage facility being built in the epi-center of our community, so very close to where we live and next to crucial infrastructure of bridge and main highway.  That makes a lot of sense to me.

And to be honest, I don't want that potential sword of Damocles hanging over my head, either. One spark, one lightening strike and poof, we all turn into either crispy critters or turn belly up like roaches sprayed with a toxic chemical.  Not a pretty picture for Port folks or town folks, either. Might never happen, of course, but it could...despite best business practices.  They don't call 'em accidents or Acts of God for nothing...

But on the other hand...

I heard the passionate and heart-felt words of the Port folks who spoke last night.  You could tell they love their families, their communities and their work.  Good people, these Port employees. I hold them in high regard and think we must do all we can to protect their jobs—and to add new jobs to the Port. As we heard last night, Port jobs are good jobs that have supported good families in our community for generations. We need more jobs, not fewer—and must protect the ones we have in our community.

The problem...

From what I heard last night, and please correct me if I'm wrong, but I heard that right now PCS Phosphate now supplies the Port with 90% of their bulk cargo tonnage—and that there needs to be a certain amount of tonnage that passes through our Port in order to receive subsidies to dredge to keep our deep water open and not silting up.  So if those facts are valid, and I've no reason to doubt them, then we've got a problem.

Back in the day when I owned a business, my Daddy (a smart man!) cautioned me not to ever find myself in the position of having just one main customer, 'cause should I lose that customer, it would devastate my business. I'd be beholden to that one client for my livelihood, and they could pretty much dictate my business life. And hold me in their power.

Now, and I'm just thinking out loud here--jump in any time and tell me I'm full of beans--but if PCS is responsible for 90% of the Port's current tonnage, then isn't there a problem here? Isn't the situation at the Port just what my Daddy warned me against?

Doesn't the Port need to divide up the pie more, find more business partners so they don't have to accept any and all dangerous proposals from their 90% customer?

Right now as it stands, couldn't this main customer throw their weight around and threaten to pull out, leaving our Port high and dry and without the tonnage they need to keep the waterway dredged, deep and open?

Sounds downright scary to me, one customer having all that power

So that's the situation and that's the problem as I see it.  The Port needs more customers, more business partners, and more bulk cargo representing more tonnage—and if that bulk cargo is of a nature that's  not potentially harmful to the community, then problem solved.

Am I being too naive about this? If so, please let me hear from you. I want to learn from you.

Surely there must be other bulk cargo that's not explosive or puts stuff in the air that causes asthma, itchy eyes and worse. Let's seek out bulk cargo that's safe for the Port workers who move and store the stuff—and safe for the community we all share.

If we can do this, it's a win-win for all of us. I do believe this can be achieved. So let's put on our thinking caps and see what we can do pulling together as a community.

I'd especially welcome hearing from Port people as they're the ones who know the Port business and the ones who likely have the smart ideas to help the Port prosper and grow in happy, healthy ways.

As far as the zoning...

I think the conversation needs to continue, but right now I'm thinking that dangerous, potentially smelly or explosive substances need to be zoned out so we can all sleep safely in our beds and so Port workers are protected from handling things that can harm them.

Your ideas wanted....

Should you write in to comment—and I hope you do—I'd like to ask a favor of you:  send in your suggestions and ideas of what bulk cargo, what companies you'd like to see as Port business partners.  Partners that could deliver more bulk cargo, more tonnage and more safety and security to the community we share with the Port.

Who do you know, who are your contacts that might help us grow the Port and its jobs? How can you help grow a healthy Port with a healthy bottom line?



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2 Responses »

  1. dear patti

    you constantly amaze me with your eloquence and lucid brain .... both of which i lack ... :) i look forward to reading your readers' comments .... in the meantime, please send a copy of this to all our newspapers!

  2. Thanks for your comment and suggestion, Pene. The Carteret News Times published the article as a Letter to the Editor in this past Sunday's print edition (Aug. 14th). I don't know if the News & Observer will follow suit or not. Meanwhile, the Secretary of the Dept. of Transportation in Raleigh has commissioned a large study to determine the economic role of ports in NC, including whether to proceed with the proposed mega-port in Southport and/or to "modernize" the Morehead City Port. Their findings and recommendations will determine the future of our Port. Meanwhile, one wonders why the construction of the new bridge and improvements to Hwy. 70 here are being started earlier than scheduled??

    Find the Forbes article here:

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