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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

WATERWAYS COUNCIL BRINGS WASHINGTON TO KENTUCKY DAM

KyCorn would like to say thank you to Reggie Tubbs, 
the captain of the James H. Hunter, for hosting WCI and it’s guests. 
Washington reporters descended on Tennessee and Kentucky, June 8-9, to experience and better understand locks and dams and their importance to agriculture and the economy.

Waterways Council, Inc. Senior Vice President, Debra Colbert explained this event was a strategic effort by the council to physically show DC reporters a Lock project.

The Waterways Council (WCI) is a national public policy organization in Washington DC that advocates for a modern and well-maintained inland system of waterways. According to Colbert this is done in three ways. First is lobbying, the second is working with stakeholder groups and the third is communicating with our members and the news media.

"Other organizations will take lawmakers and the general public out to see how something works, but for me, I really think the news media needs to be as involved as any group because they have the ability to process the information given and dilute it down in an easier to understand way that educates their readers about why it is important," she said.

D.C. reporters in attendance included: Jerry Hagstrom, The Hagstrom Report and National Journal; Geof Koss, Energy and Environmental Daily; and Ethan Epstein, Weekly Standard. Locally, Dave Flessner, Chattanooga Times Free-Press and Dave Zoeller from Paducah Sun covered the event.

The second day of the tour brought the reporters to the Kentucky Dam where participants toured a barge hauling coal as well as the construction of the extended Ky Lock. The lock, which is currently 600 ft, will double in size to 1,200 ft once completed. This will allow for an entire barge to go through at once, instead of having to break apart and lock twice. Currently, a barge takes three to five hours to lock through, completed construction will cut that time down to an hour and a half, reducing time and money spent.

KyCorn Board Member and WCI Representative, John Danesi said touring the barge really puts into perspective the amount of grain being transported by the waterways.

"To give you an idea of what a barge is capable of doing, on one barge you can put enough wheat to make 12.5 million loaves of bread. Taking that even further, one tug boat hauls 15 barges."

"Kentucky is fortunate to have over 1,000 miles of navigable waterways, so we use the barge industry a lot for many different purposes," Danesi added. "Most farmers you talk to, talk about hauling grain to the elevator and most of those, not all of them, but most, of our elevators are somewhere on the river. So the barge system really impacts our customers. Whether it's corn, soybeans or wheat, more than likely our farmers are hauling it to the river."

Cobert said she was blown away by the response from the event.

These things are so important to do because in Washington we can talk about why the waterways are important, we can write press releases, we can write columns, but to see it in person really puts it into perspective. When we said goodbye at the airport the reporters said they had no idea how in-depth or exciting it would be to see it. In particularly, Jerry Hagstrom, the ag reporter, was extremely thrilled just to have all those folks assembled in one room to talk about the importance of agriculture."

"We just want to say thank you to everyone who showed up, we felt like rock stars walking into the Core of Engineers briefing rooms, because it was standing room only there were so many people there," she said. "People, who depend on viable waterways, were excited about it and wanted to be part of the opportunity. I am really grateful for everybody's support. It was beyond anything I ever expected."

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