Port Authority plans $3M improvement to crane system

EAST LIVERPOOL – The Columbiana County Port Authority is moving ahead with plans to make another $3 million-plus in improvements to its Wellsville industrial park.

The Port Authority board on Monday hired the engineering firm of Globex Corp. to prepare the design specifications needed to seek bids for adding a bulk cargo-handling conveyor system to its 60-ton overhead crane system at the industrial park located along the Ohio River. The conveyor system would enable them to move more bulk material faster from barges to waiting trucks or railroad cars.

The conveyor system will also include additional discharge capability allowing material to be delivered directly to Cimbar Performance Minerals, a Port Authority tenant, which is in a joint venture with another tenant to produce drilling fluids for the oil and gas industry.

The project would also include a permanent barge located in the river along the shoreline where the excavator would be located to remove the bulk material from barges.

Port Authority CEO Tracy Drake said the project is expected to cost $3 million to $4 million, and they only have about $2.3 million in state funding to work with. He said they intend to seek bids in July to get an idea exactly of much additional funding will be needed, with plans to complete the project before the end of the year.

Although additional state and federal money is being sought to close the funding gap, Drake said they could undertake the project on a lease/purchase basis, or they could do it in phases as the money allows.

Globex, which has an office in Canfield, will be paid $35,000.

In other action, the Port Authority agreed to sell $14.5 million in government revenue bonds for the planned upgrade and expansion of the Canton Christian Home to assist the Stark County Port Authority.

Drake said port authorities can issue up to $10 million per year in tax-exempt bonds for projects that benefit non-profit entities, but Stark County had already exceeded that amount for the year, which is why it turned to its Columbiana County counterpart for help.

The board agreed to issue $10 million in bonds this year and another $4.5 million in 2015. The Port Authority is not on the hook for the money: By authorizing the sale of the bonds it is enabling the Canton Christian Home to obtain low-interest financing for the project. The Port Authority’s fee will be $62,000.

The nearly 40-year-old facility is home to 235 elderly residents and provides continuing care, from assisted living to skilled care. The renovation will modernize the facility and allow for an additional five beds.