HOUSTON, May 20, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A pictorial video tribute in honor of James T. Edmonds, former Chairman of the Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority, was played Tuesday during the Port Commission's regular monthly meeting.
Edmonds, who passed away May 11, dedicated 16 years of service to the Port Commission, including serving 12 years as chairman, current Chairman Janiece Longoria noted. She said the maritime community is close-knit and like a family.
"Although we have lost former Chairman Jim Edmonds in this life, we will not forget him," Longoria said. "The Port Commission and staff will always hold him in our hearts, in our minds, and give him his rightful place in the history of this venerable organization."
Just like Houston's early leaders, who were committed to their vision for our city, Jim Edmonds understood the importance of investing in our port's future, she added. He dedicated his energy and efforts to helping ensure the continued growth of our port, which is now the No. 1 export port in the nation. He had an engaging style, an unselfish commitment to excellence, and genuine passion for the Port of Houston.
Services for Edmonds were held Monday. The video, along with Chairman Longoria's full remarks can be viewed on the Port Authority's website at www.portofhouston.com.
During the business section of Tuesday's meeting, Port Authority Executive Director Roger Guenther announced that a $68 million contract was executed Friday with Orion Marine Group for the dredging of the channels in front of the Bayport and Barbours Cut container terminals. Orion was awarded the contract in March after a competitive bidding process.
The dredging, which will take both channels from 40 to 45 feet to match the depth of the Houston Ship Channel, is expected to begin soon and be completed next year. Channels will also be widened or realigned by up to 100 feet to better accommodate larger ships that are expected to call.
Longoria noted that the permits for the dredging projects were received from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently, and she acknowledged the remarkable cooperative effort between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Port Authority to complete the complicated process in an expedited manner allowing the Port Authority to get these projects underway and completed in advance of the opening of the Panama Canal expansion.
In other business, Guenther reported that operating revenue is up 5 percent through April of this year compared to last year, topping $20 million for the month, buoyed by increases in bulk cargo and steel. Monthly statistics showed total bulk cargo tonnage is up 36 percent, while steel is up by 8 percent so far during 2014.
"It continues to look very good for the year," Guenther said. "Our Financial results continue to be strong as April was another solid month. We are excited about this year."
He also highlighted the completion of a successful cruise season, which wrapped up earlier this month with the final sailing of the season by Princess Cruises. About 80,000 passengers sailed out of the Port Authority's Bayport Cruise Terminal, he noted, and Princess will begin sailing out of Bayport again in November. Norwegian Cruise Line begins sailing out of Bayport in October, so two cruise lines will be operating from the terminal during the next cruise season.
A video presentation about the Port Authority's Maritime Academy Program at area schools also was shown during the meeting, lauding recent graduates. The program, which began six years ago at two area high schools, Stephen F. Austin and Jack Yates in the Houston Independent School District, has grown from an enrollment of 100 to 423 during that time.
HISD Board of Education President Juliet Stipeche, who appeared before the Port Commission, called the program a pipeline of opportunity for students.
"You are going to have students that have strong skills," Stipeche said. "Thank you very much for investing in the children of Houston."
During the meeting, John Buchannan, Stephen F. Austin's Maritime Instructor, was introduced as HISD's First Year Teacher of the Year.
The maritime education program has since expanded to three other area school districts, Galena Park, Pasadena and La Porte. Total enrollment for all the programs now exceeds 500 students.
About the Port of Houston Authority
For nearly 100 years, the Port of Houston Authority has owned or operated the public cargo-handling facilities of the Port of Houston – the nation's largest port for foreign waterborne tonnage. The port is an economic engine for the Houston region, the state of Texas and the nation. It supports the creation of more than one million statewide jobs and more than 2.1 million nationwide jobs, and the generation of economic activity totaling more than $178.5 billion in Texas and $499 billion across the nation. For more information, visit the Port Authority website at: www.portofhouston.com.
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Source:Port of Houston Authority