By Rolf Boone, December 10, 2013, The Olympian
The Port of Olympia issued a pair of farewells during the final commission meeting of the year Monday night: one to Port Commissioner Jeff Davis, and the other to the final container crane on the port’s marine terminal.
Before people said their goodbyes to Davis, it was business as usual as the commission agreed to surplus the Star crane on the port’s marine terminal, just south of the Paceco crane. The commission voted to surplus the Paceco crane earlier this year.
Now, both cranes might be sold for scrap.
Port commissioners took two additional steps Monday night: They approved $500,000 for a deconstruction contract in the event the cranes don’t sell, and they approved buying a mobile crane in an amount not to exceed $5 million.
Port finance director Jeff Smith said before Monday’s meeting that the old cranes might be gone by the end of the first quarter next year, and the mobile crane could be in operation by midyear.
The port bought the two container cranes years ago to serve a Russian shipping line called Sunmar, a business relationship that ended when the Russian economy collapsed in the late 1990s.
The cranes had rarely been used since then, and not at all in the past four years. They were in need of major repairs and upgrades, and the port had ongoing maintenance costs.
The Star crane also has been home to nesting peregrine falcons throughout the years.
Port Executive Director Ed Galligan said the port will come up with a plan for the falcons, including possibly contacting the state Department of Fish and Wildlife for assistance, before the crane is removed.
Robert Rose and Keith Bausch, two longshoremen with ILWU, Local 47, which serves the port, urged the commission to approve the surplus of the Star crane and the purchase of a mobile crane.
A mobile crane would make the port more competitive for cargo and should retain its value if the port ever needs to sell it, they said.
Bausch, president of Local 47, also thanked Davis for his work as port commissioner.
“There are not enough words to say how much we appreciate the job you did,” he said.
Fellow commissioner Bill McGregor also thanked Davis toward the end of the meeting.
“It is with a deep respect for commissioner Davis that I wish him well in his future endeavors,” McGregor said. “Please do not forget your many peers, friends and acquaintances that you have met during your time on this board. You have made a difference.”
Davis, a longshoreman who works mostly in the Longview area, served a four-year term on the commission. He was defeated for the District 3 seat in last month’s election by Sue Gunn, a scientist and environmentalist. Gunn will join the commission for its next meeting on Jan. 14.