Towboat crews needing transportation to or from their vessel have a new option for personalized service now that an area firm has expanded its courier and security services to now include a fleet of vans dedicated to crew transfer needs. Paducah River Express, LLC is an offshoot from Metro Courier and Security Services, Inc. which has provided courier and escort service to local hospitals and financial institutions for the past five years.
Each driver is equipped with a cell phone to maintain contact with a boat or passenger in case either of them gets delayed because of weather or road conditions. Each van is also equipped with a hand-held VHF marine radio and a GPS/chart and navigation unit, programmed with locations of specific locks, river landings and launch ramps as well as street addresses normally associated with automobile-oriented street navigation systems. “Time is important to both our customers and our company”, said company co-owner, Phyllis Johnson. “Neither of us can afford to waste money while a driver wastes unnecessary miles trying to find a boat.”
She said health-conscious riders will also appreciate that all vans are smoke-free, but admitted that some riders may need to stop for a cigarette break. “We can accommodate that,” she added.
Inquiries regarding rates and scheduling should be addressed to Paducah River Express, LLC at 5618 Clinton Rd., Paducah, Ky., 42001. The phone number is 270 554-6785. Online inquiries should be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Crounse Corp. building new headquarters
Paducah, Ky.,-based Crounse Corp. has begun construction of a new $4.5 million office headquarters at the junction of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers. The 17,000-square-foot facility will straddle nine acres along both sides of the city’s flood wall and is immediately across the street from Paducah’s new Carson Four Rivers Performing Arts Center.
The new, modern structure will be faced with brick-veneer and blue-mirrored clear glass spandrel panels and will be enhanced with a reflecting pond along the city side of the floodwall. Crounse president, Steve Little, said the project will utilize the ‘Green Building System” of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a national hallmark for environmentally friendly buildings. He said the facility will be the first “LEED” certified building in West Kentucky. “There are only a few in the whole state,” he noted.
The new site was most recently occupied by Ingram Barge Co., which relocated last year to a new facility a mile upriver. At one time the site was home to Paducah Marine Ways which produced hundreds of barges and small towboats and serviced thousands of others for several decades before shutting down in 1984.
Little said it is only fitting that Crounse is relocating to the site where its first towboat (500-hp, single-screw, Alice) was built in 1949. The 59 year-old company now owns or operates 27 towboats from 1,200 hp. to 4,300 hp. along with 912 barges, involved mostly in the coal trade along the Ohio River and its tributaries and along the Mississippi River and Tenn-Tom Waterway. Founded in 1948 by the late George Crounse, Sr., the company is Paducah’s oldest locally-owned barge line.
“We’re delighted to be part of the revitalization of downtown Paducah and we plan on being here another 60 years,” Little remarked during the April 23rd announcement. “What we’re doing here today in large part echoes what Mr. Crounse did 60 years ago.”
Barges scattered and sunk at Smithland Locks and Dam
Five barges were sunk above and below the Smithland Locks and Dam at Ohio River Mile 918.5 March 30 when the 3,300-hp Nelson Lewis lost control of its 12-barge tow as it made its southbound approach to the lock. There were no injuries reported and locking operations were suspended for only three hours following the incident.
Lockmaster Jim Harris said five of the barges were loaded with corn and six with gypsum and there was never any threat to the environment. The 12th barge was an empty “red flag” (petroleum) tanker which escaped damage and was recovered.
Lt. Wayne Chapman, Coast Guard Marine Safety Office, Paducah, Ky., said none of the barges struck the lock gates although several were swept through the dam’s control gates, which were elevated because of high water conditions along the Ohio River at the time. “He (the towboat’s captain) got out of shape and he ended up dumping his tow,” Chapman said, explaining that the barges were cut loose to prevent them from dragging the towboat through the gates too. “He might have saved some lives by doing that,” Chapman added.
When the barges struck the dam, they scattered with some being drawn quickly through the open gates, causing two to promptly sink and three others to sink more slowly beneath the dam. One of the barges was stuck in a gate structure but was freed the next day after which it sank beneath the dam outside the navigation channel.
Although outside the navigation channel, one of the barges was struck by a small fishing boat May 15, sending both occupants into the swirling waters. Fortunately, they were recovered by nearby fishermen. Although partially visible above the surface at the time, turbulent conditions obscured the unmarked barge, the fishermen reported.