Helena Harbor Items Checked Off


Helena Harbor Items Checked Off
Mark Pruett is the terminal manager at Helm Fertilizer Terminal Inc. near Helena-West Helena. (Karen E. Segrave)

For more than three years, members of the Image Environmental Inc. team have become familiar faces at the Helena Harbor, working on the Helm Fertilizer Terminal upgrade-expansion project (see Helm Fertilizer Doubles Down On Its Helena Harbor Facility).

The Memphis specialty contractor and construction management firm started in late 2018 optimizing the existing facility with improvements. Among the challenges was contending with high water on the Mississippi River flooding portions of the site.

An abundance of local rainfall that saturated the ground added to the soggy conditions. In the battle with precipitation, one sound is finally fading from the Helm property: the din of portable pumps removing water to allow the construction of concrete footings to move forward.

“Nobody can control the weather,” said J.P. Stephens, president of IEI. “Those pumps probably need to be rebuilt because they were used so much.”

Checklist Update

Speaking of the Helena Harbor …

“We’re now down to the last two, what I call, big items for our critical enabling infrastructure,” said John Edwards, economic development director for the harbor.

Those two items are building a wastewater treatment plant and a 500,000-gallon elevated water tower to serve residents of the industrial park 5.5 miles south of Helena-West Helena.

Estimated to cost $6 million, the wastewater treatment plant is traveling a timeline that could see a late 2023 arrival or early 2024.

Estimated to cost $4.6 million, the water tower is considered a possible 2024 addition.

The launch of both projects is subject to rounding up the funds from a hodgepodge of sources.

Last year, Helena Harbor gained status as a “designated project” on the U.S. Marine Highway System by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

That classification raised the profile of the slackwater harbor and its 4,000-acre industrial park. It also opened the door to annual grant opportunities with the Marine Highway program.