Port gets support from the Senate for upgrades to Charleston ice dock

Port gets support from the Senate for upgrades to Charleston ice dock
CHARLESTON, Ore. - Right off the marina, sits the Charleston ice dock, outdated, and currently out of service.

"The ice plant is an old facility. It's operated well for many years but the equipment is old and it was starting to break down," says Martin Callery, Communication Director with the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay.

The port purchased the plant about 18 months ago, but the business was being run by a third party.

Just before the new year, he announced he was shutting down operations, leaving fishermen without one of their most essential items...

"Ice is one of those things like fuel and bait, you got to have it. And you got to have right where your home ported so it's a very important part of the commercial fishing infrastructure," says Callery.

Port staff is now in the process of learning how to run the plant as is, but they couldn't be happier to hear the news that the bill, initially spearhead by Congressman Peter Defazio, was signed by the Senate, for more than $340,000 to purchase brand new equipment.

"Funding comes at a time when we come in here, rebuild the plant, put in all new ice equipment and have a facility that really serves the fleet here in the Charleston harbor."

According to Callery, the existing machines are not 100 percent safe, and have cost the port roughly $70,000 just in maintenance repairs alone.

Something they anticipate will greatly improve with the new equipment.

"We understand from the vendors out there that there have been a lot of improvements over the years in ice making equipment. And that's realty what we're looking for, something that's more efficient, more energy efficient, produces a better quality of ice and meets the need of commercial fishermen."

The new equipment is expected to arrive in May, at which point the ice dock will be inoperable once again, until the project is complete.