It isn’t every day that a county official opens his remarks with a quote from a Nobel Prize for Literature acceptance speech, but that’s what Alan Pierce did Tuesday morning.
The longtime liaison with the Army Corps of Engineers regarding the dredging of the Eastpoint and Two-Miles channels, Pierce opened with a famous excerpt from William Faulkner’s William Faulkner’s Dec. 1950 speech at the Nobel Banquet at the City Hall in Stockholm, Sweden.
“I believe that when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of man’s puny, inexhaustible, voice still talking!” Pierce quotes.
“Well, I don’t want to be talking about the Army Corps of Engineers until the end of time, I’m tired of this,” he told commissioners. “They say they’re moving forward. It’s not visible to us, it’s not visible to us who have been waiting, waiting, waiting…”
Still, there was good news in Pierce’s report.
He read a letter from Ashley Kleinschrodt, chief, navigation at the Army Corps of Engineers’s Mobile, Alabama headquarters, that he received last week, that said the Corps had received the contract for the dredging and was moving forward with a task force order and hard copy of the bonds needed to proceed.
It then would schedule a preconstruction meeting, which Pierce said would signal the start of the project. “It would be the Is a last step before they start dredging,” he said. “They told us immediately after the meeting, they will begin dredging. They’ll be ready to go.
“They don’t appear to be worried about hurricane season this year as they were last year,” Pierce said.
Chairman Ricky Jones said he had asked Corps personnel “point blank” about hurricane season. “They said that’s not something they can consider,” he said. “If they shut everything down for hurricane season, then they’re further behind in that area.”
Of the $6 million project, the county’s $5 million portion comes out of monies it has received from the Gulf Consortium, a public entity responsible for doling out BP monies from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill to Florida’s 23 Gulf Coast counties.
The Corps is partnering with the county to design and construct a 20-acre beneficial use site to service the Eastpoint Navigation Channel, using sandy material from within the site’s footprint to construct a containment berm, which will then be backfilled. Once the dredged material has consolidated, the county will plant the site with local marsh vegetation.
The $1 million in federal money that the project will be getting is the first influx of federal dollars since 2005, when it was secured but was diverted to New Orleans to help address the massive destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.
The Eastpoint work will be from Barber’s Seafood to the county boat ramp, while the Two-Mile channel will be from the boat ramp at Buddy Ward Park all the way to the Apalachicola River.
“Eastpoint is completely silted in,” Pierce said. “Two-Mile has lumps in it, it needs to be evened out.”