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Gallatin County Board Member Takes Aim at Fowler, Regional Port District and Scates Group Intermodal River Terminal; Scates Responds

Some in Gallatin County are furious after the latest social media post from board member Warren Rollman.  In it, Rollman suggests State Senator Dale Fowler is corrupt, calling him a bedfellow of the Shawneetown Regional Port District and Scates Group Intermodal River Terminal.  Rollman says Senate Bill 3654, sponsored by Fowler, if passed, would “completely trample” local government rights giving the port “near dictatorial power” over any public or municipal owned property within 1 1/3 miles from the Ohio River.

Patrick Scates, when asked for a response, says what Senate Bill 3654 actually does is allows the Port district to grant itself an easement “only on publicly owned land” to build a conveyor across the levee and wharfage and over Main Street to reach the fertilizer center.  He says it only allows the Port to do that to fulfill the purpose of the Port District of commerce and economic development.  Additionally, the legislation would allow the Port District to vacate 2 alleys Old Shawneetown is claiming are on the property it’s leasing from Scates Group, but Scates says have never been alleys in the last 3 decades.

At the center of the disagreement is Viserion Grain.  Rollman says “Old Town” and Viserion have a lease agreement in which the grain elevator pays the village $100,000 per year.  Additionally, the village has offered a $50,000 per year lease to the Scates group.  The rub, according to Scates, is that in that lease agreement, it’s states Viserion gets final approval.  Furthermore, he says it states no truck traffic from the fertilizer facility could use a public street vital to the operation of the new facility.  Scates anticipates the new facility will offload 60,000-100,000 tons per year which breaks town to $.50 center per ton.  Scates says the agreement with Viserion pays $99,000 per year while loading an estimated 1.1 Million tons per year, or just $.09 cents per ton.  Scates says the Port District will still pay the appropriate dollar amount per ton set by what Viserion pays the village of Old Shawneetown.

You can read full statements from both Rollman and Scates below.  Senator Fowler, Viserion, and representatives from Old Shawneetown have yet to weigh in.

Warren Rollman – Gallatin County Board Member (social media post):

Corruption??? You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet!!!
Exposing the sordid power grab from bedfellows State Senator Dale Fowler, the Shawneetown Regional Port District, and the Scates Group Intermodal River Terminal
Attached is a synopsis of Illinois Senate Bill 3654, which is sponsored by our state senator, Dale Fowler. This bill, if passed, would completely trample the rights of our local governments. The Port would have near dictatorial power over any public or municipal owned property that is within 1 1/3 miles from the Ohio River and lies in the Village of Old Shawneetown, Shawnee Township, and Bowlesville Township. Also affected would be four separate roads owned by Gallatin County itself, as well as the rights of the Shawnee Water Authority.
This bill would give the Port power that is “superior to the authority of ANY unit of local government within the property.” Specifically, it would allow the Port to permanently shut down public roads, unilaterally break easement contracts, and discard any ordinances or resolutions passed by the local units of government in regard to their own property.
Currently, Old Shawneetown has a lease agreement with the Viserion Grain elevator, in which Viserion pays Old Town $100,000/year. This money is used to provide basic societal functions and levee maintenance in Old Town. Senator Fowler’s bill would allow the Port to break this contract, and then impose their own “charge of throughput” at a monetary rate set by the Port. This money would then go into the Port’s bank account, NOT Old Town’s.
The Port Board consists of seven members who are all politically appointed. Governor JB Pritzker himself is in charge of four of these appointments. In contrast, the five local units of government affected by this bill consist of a total of 25 representatives elected by the voters of Gallatin County. None of these local units of government have been contacted, much less consulted, about this bill. Why would Senator Fowler want to cast aside the will of the people, in favor of political appointees?? The answer is simple—stack the Port Board with lackeys who will give the Scates Group whatever they want, with no opposition. Then Senator Fowler will be able to have a nice photo op in front of the taxpayers’ nearly $22 million dollar “investment.”
The Port already has eminent domain power over private property, but the land they need for the Scates Group project is owned by local governments. Because the Port cannot use eminent domain to take public property, they have enlisted Senator Fowler to give them what are essentially public property eminent domain rights.
Even for those of you who do not live in the areas covered by this particular senate bill, be forewarned. The passage of this bill would set a very dangerous precedent, in which unelected bureaucrats would have almost limitless power over your local governments. If you aren’t affected now, your time may come in the future.
Senator Fowler should immediately withdraw his sponsorship of this heinous, undemocratic bill.
For the record, the Scates Group/Port originally offered Old Town $5,000/year to lease property from the town. Old Town has a standing offer of a $50,000/year lease if the Scates Group/Port would sign. They have refused. The taxpayers have dumped $22 million into this project, and the Scates Group/Port is unwilling to give a relatively paltry 50k back into the county. Please. Because the Scates Group/Port refuses to reach an honest, fair deal with Old Town, they have decided to use this senate bill as a way to screw the town.
—Warren Rollman
Response from Patrick Scates:

SHAWNEETOWN REGIONAL PORT & SCATES GROUP INTERMODAL RIVER TERMINAL LLC

PUBLIC – PRIVATE PROJECT PROPOSAL

The Shawneetown Regional Port District is located at Mile Marker 853 on the Ohio River. Scates Group Intermodal River Terminal, LLC (SGIRT) is a family-owned corporation located in Southeastern Illinois. Using the Shawneetown Regional Port District property and the SGIRT property, we propose to operate a business through a public – private partnership on the Ohio River in Old Shawneetown, IL.

It is proposed that SGIRT provide access to the Shawneetown Regional Port District to the Ohio River by repurposing a former coal loading facility and erecting an energy efficient, environmentally friendly cargo offloading facility on this site. This property is a proven barge cargo handling location with existing mooring and docking cells located and permitted by the Army Corps of Engineers in the Ohio River.

We know this community, county, and the surrounding area to be economically depressed and disadvantaged. It is our intent to produce high paying jobs and economic opportunities in conjunction with this site. They include construction, barge workers, cargo handling service workers and trucking, to mention a few. In our estimation this facility could create between 250-300 construction jobs, and 12- 15 cargo service and barge jobs, as well as creating 20-25 new truck driving jobs moving product to and from the river.

We recognize that barge transport is the most economically and environmentally friendly mode of transportation. By constructing this facility, it allows companies to bring products further inland to this area, reducing prices for the end user and cutting the carbon footprint of these products and reducing the long haul miles of highway transport. Illinois Highway 13 is a major transportation artery and provides access for agricultural products (Dry and liquid fertilizer, livestock feed, etc.) and other major commodities to and from the Ohio River.

This investment in the Shawneetown Regional Port District and utilizing these 2 major infrastructures will allow farmers, ranchers and agricultural businesses to see reduced transportation costs, therefore reducing costs to consumers.

Why the need for SB 3654

Do to an agreement between the Village of Old Shawneetown and Viserion Grain called the “Impact Zone” stating that no other private company can cross the levee, or any streets or alleys to do business on the Ohio River without Viserion Grain consent has caused the Port to seek this legislative change to the Port Act.

The Village of Old Shawneetown has sent a draft of a lease agreement to the Port but the lease agreement states Viserion Grain has final approval. It also states no truck traffic from the fertilizer facility could use a public street of 3rd south cross street, which is vital to the operation of the new facility. It also states the Port pay $50,000 per year for the right to cross the levee and main street. The new fertilizer facility will offload 60,000 tons -100,000 tons per year, which equals $0.50 per ton. Viserion pays $99,000 per year and loads 1.1Million Tons (est) per year, which equals $0.09 per ton.

What does Senate Bill 3654 do

It will allow the Port district to grant itself an easement only on publicly owned land to build a conveyor across the levee and wharfage and over main street to reach the fertilizer center. It only allows the Port do that to fulfill the purpose of the port district of commerce and economic development. It will also allow the Port District to vacate 2 alleys the Village claims are on the property it is leasing from Scates Group but have never been alleys in the last 30 years.

The Port District will still pay the appropriate dollar amount per ton set by what Viserion pays the Village of Old Shawneetown. In the same agreement the Village vacated alleys and streets for Viserion Grain and allows them to probe trucks on the public street of third south cross street.

The Port District has been awarded $10.1M from USDOT to build a new Port Access Road. The Village has stated they do not want this road built and claiming they have alleys through the Port property and will stop this road project. This New Port Access Road will allow development of the rest of the Port property and provide direct truck traffic into Viserion Grain.

In the last 2 years the Ports district has gather public grant dollars and private investment of $26M to redevelop this vital deep-water port. The Village of Old Shawneetown and Viserion Grain have caused delays to this project which will bring much needed jobs to an economically depressed area. These delays are putting the fertilizer distribution center project and the New Port Access Road in jeopardy.

The legislative change adding a throughput charge will allow the Port district to upkeep the new Port Access Road and continue to work on revitalizing the Shawneetown Regional Port District.

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5 comments
  1. Outraged
    Outraged
    February 23, 2024 at 4:14 pm

    Once again , looks like we the tax payer , will help fund , a political pay back to help a few get richer ! Construction jobs , are usually done by out of area workers , so the 250 to 300 jobs are not likely local ! The other 40 jobs would cost around 800,000.00 dollars per job to create with tax payer money ! Good deal if you can get it !

    Reply
  2. Brent Wood
    Brent Wood
    February 24, 2024 at 12:03 pm

    Finally, an elected official with a backbone. Thank you Mr. Rollman !!!

    Reply
  3. About Time
    About Time
    February 24, 2024 at 12:11 pm

    Finally, an elected official with a backbone. Thank you Mr. Rollman !!

    Reply
  4. About Time.
    About Time.
    February 24, 2024 at 12:15 pm

    Finally, an elected official with a backbone. Thank you Mr. Rollman !!

    Reply
  5. Fed-up
    Fed-up
    February 26, 2024 at 11:21 am

    As usual the reporter only talked to the Scates group. And the people that are furious are the taxpayers. The 10million wasn’t enough, they want to take away personal and municipal property with no compensation. And the county to fund a new road with taxpayers dollars, but the s***es group will own the road. Whst part of that makes sense? Last time the Scates group had a big boost for our county, they filled the Shawneetown high school with migrant workers that didn’t last or help our county. Is this where the Gov wants to send me of the 30k illegals to work and live?

    Reply

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