Wade named port director

MORGAN CITY, La. — The Harbor and Terminal District commission approved Raymond “Mac” Wade as the new executive director of the Port of Morgan City effective Sept. 1, and authorized Commission President Jerry Gauthier to sign a letter of intent to enter into a lease agreement with a new tenant.

The commission held a special meeting Wednesday at the Port of Morgan City.

Wade served on the Morgan City Harbor and Terminal District Commission for 24 years including roles as president and vice president of the commission. Though he has not been on the commission for the past two years, he has still attended many of the commission meetings, he said.

Wade will replace Executive Director Jerry Hoffpauir, who is retiring. The commission voted to keep Hoffpauir at half-pay for two months to help with the transition as assistant to the executive director. Wade would have the option to retain Hoffpauir up to Dec. 31.

Wade’s salary will be $127,800 annually, which is the same as Hoffpauir’s salary.

Hoffpauir, 73, became executive director in 2006 when the port was going through a “tumultuous time” with the intention of staying about a year. “Mac is going to be a great port director, and he hits the ground running,” Hoffpauir said.

“He’s going to fit right in. My duties, now, are going to be more assisting him. I’ve just acquired a lot of contacts over the years ... a lot of the influential contacts are personal friends of mine. It’s just mostly helping him acquire those,” Hoffpauir said.

Hoffpauir will help Wade with his contacts with state and federal entities, he said. Hoffpauir said any port director is only as good as his or her board, and he has “a very, very, very good board.” Hoffpauir had previously served as port director from 1996 to 2001.

Hoffpauir said the timing was right for him to retire as port director, but he still plans to be involved and attend port meetings.

The commission also authorized Gauthier to sign a letter of intent to enter into a lease agreement with Gulf Coast Transportation, based in Belle Chasse, to become the new port operator. The letter of intent is valid through Oct. 1. “The intent right now is that … they would be starting Sept. 15 so it’s not a big timeframe,” Port Attorney Gerard Bourgeois said.

The port has been in discussion with company officials, Wade said. Gulf Coast Transportation asked for the letter of intent, which it needs to be able to attract customers that plan to ship goods through the port, Gauthier said.

The letter of intent is not binding to either party, Wade said. Either party can back out at any time, he said.

“One of the things it is subject to is our due diligence and review of their plans from infrastructure improvements and for job creation,” Bourgeois said.

The proposed lease would be “pretty much” the same as previous tenants Cenac Offshore and Inmobilaria Lamol signed, Bourgeois said.

Wade said Gulf Coast Transportation is a little reluctant to tell port officials all of the details of its plans.

“We need to have a little better understanding … of exactly what they want to do,” Wade said.

From what port officials know, so far, the company plans to ship a wide range of commodities back and forth between the port and Mexico, Wade said. One of the businesses Gulf Coast Transportation is in is the transport of sand and gravel, he said.

Wade, 61, is looking forward to continuing the progress the port has made over the last several years, he said. “Right now, we’re working very hard to try to find another tenant to come in … anything we can do that’s going to create opportunities. However, the port’s No. 1 challenge is going to be maintaining the mandated 20-foot depth of the Atchafalaya Bar Channel, he said.

The port has many challenges and work coming up with the corps trying to start the sidecaster dredging project to dredge the bar channel to its mandated depth, Wade said.

Wade completed a course to become a certified port executive in March, according to a Port of Morgan City news release. Wade has lived in Morgan City since 1975 and has been involved in the oilfield and environmental industry, the release stated.

Wade said having dealt with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a commissioner will help him in his new role.

When Wade left the commission two years ago, the commission kept him involved with the port because he has a lot of knowledge and experience with the port, he said. There is a lot more that goes on at the port than the people see once a month at commission meetings, he said.

Wade said becoming port director will not be a huge adjustment for him. Through his years as a commissioner, he went from not knowing much at all about port activities to being extremely involved, he said.

His experience having been on the commission for many years allows him to “hit the ground running instead of having to start slow,” Wade said.

Right now, there is a lot of activity all at once at the port, Wade said. “The Port of Morgan City’s name is being passed around in different circles in industry out there,” Wade said.

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