Port of Lake Charles Opening

Port of Lake Charles

 

There was very little discussion during Tuesday's Port of Lake Charles board meeting, as officers were appointed and items were ratified from a meeting held in August. The action came just over a week after legal disputes were resolved between three former port board presidents and four current board members.

The board appointed David Darbone as president, Carl Krielow as vice president and Tom Lorenzi as secretary/treasurer. Michael Prudhomme was appointed assistant secretary/treasurer in a substitute motion after Dudley Dixon was first nominated.

Former port board members Wade Shaddock, Walt Sanchez and John LeBlanc filed a lawsuit Aug. 28 against Krielow, Lorenzi, Darbone and Prudhomme. It stated the election of Darbone as president during the board's Aug. 26 meeting violated the open meetings law because there wasn't unanimous consent from the board to add the item to the agenda.

LeBlanc, whose four-year term expired Aug. 1, was not reappointed by Gov. John Bel Edwards. The governor instead appointed Prudhomme.

Port Director Bill Rase confirmed that Elcie Guillory resigned from the port board on Monday. Because Guillory was a legislative appointment, Rase said the Southwest Louisiana delegation will submit three nominees to fill the seat. The governor has 60 days from the time he receives the nominations to appoint one.

After the meeting, Darbone said he is confident in the board moving forward.

"These are credible, honorable guys," he said. "This (port) is a huge economic engine. We need to keep this engine moving."

Darbone said the port shouldn't rely solely on revenue from companies leasing on port property. He said there are opportunities to provide more jobs for local longshoremen handling bagged cargo.

"If rice and beans is not where we need to go, then we need to be thinking about what do we do next," Darbone said. "We have trucks that are passing by heading to Beaumont and Houston that could be unloading here. So how do we plan to make sure we can capture some of that cargo, bring it to this (city) dock?"

Raymond Dallas, president of the International Longshoremen's Association Local 2047, said the association fully supports the port boards "past and present."

"We know how important this port is to Southwest Louisiana," he said. "We just want to be a part of it like we always have been."

Rase said staff at the port "is going to keep doing what they're going to do."

"I think somewhere we're going to pull things together," he said.

Darbone said Guillory, a former state legislator, has served his district well for decades.

The board's next meeting is set for 5 p.m. Sept. 23.

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