Commissioners Court rescind resolution opposing Savage Inland Marine

Published 8:37 am Wednesday, February 22, 2017

State, Savage Inland reach lease agreement


By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader


As Commissioners were discussing rescinding a resolution opposing Savage Inland Marine, the company reached an agreement with the state for a surface lease agreement on Tuesday.

“We did issue a resolution opposing the permitting to make sure the GLO gave residents of Orange County a chance to be heard,” Orange County Judge Stephen ‘Brint’ Carlton said. “The public meetings held had been in Jefferson County.”

Carlton also said the General Land Office (GLO) makes the final decisions for permitting.

“We did want to slow it down for our residents to have an opportunity to ask questions and to be heard,” Carlton said.

Michael J. Truncale, arbitrator and mediator with Orgain, Bell and Tucker, LLP, announced the terms for a surface lease between Savage Inland Marine and the state had been reached and the final agreement would be signed soon.

“Savage Inland Marine has already made the first payment of $82,000 to the state of Texas,” Truncale said. “Those funds are for the benefit of school children.”

Truncale also commended the court for their actions.

“The court did the right thing for the citizens,” Truncale said. “You wanted transparency. You were looking out for the citizens and economic development.”

Savage Inland Marine is also working with Lamar State College for a new Marine Program and specifically the Barge Training Program.

“Lamar will be training local people who could have a $104,000 average salary,” Truncale said.

Amy Moore with the Workforce at Lamar State College- Orange, said the school was in support of the company and where helping with the new program.

While Citizens for the Preservation of Bessie Heights have raised concerns for the parking of barges in the Neches River by Savage Inland Marine, the company applied for a surface lease agreement with the state.

“We understand another fleet received a permit,” Brandon Barchus, of Houston and attorney for the Citizens for the Preservation of Bessie Heights, said. “The same situation happening now, happened 15 years ago. It was opposed by the court for the same reasons that ring true today. It is rewarding bad behavior.”

Business owners and citizens spoke out in support for the company and encouraged the court to rescind the previous resolution.

Market Basket in Bridge City has already seen the economic impact of the company to the community.

“They shop at the store for all their groceries,” Robert Raymor of Market Basket said. “They spend between $7-8,000 a week. We do the shopping for them which takes hours. As a result, we have one fulltime and three part time employees just for dealing with that. Their employees shop at the store off the clock as well. They keep it local.”

With the recent announcement of the acquisition of new barges and vessels, the company could potentially have 217 more employees according to Savage Inland Marine General Manager Josh Knichel.

“We have always maintained we want Bridge City for the headquarters between Houston and New Orleans,” Knichel said.

Landowners along the riverbank leasing to the company said they were pleased with the company.

“We are actually able to utilize our property now,” Paul Gerecht said. “It has truly been a pleasure working with them. We had problems with barges which made it hard to use our land. Savage prevents that and protects the shoreline.”