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A publication of the Upper Mississippi Waterway Association.
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December 2018
Eichman reflects on 25 years as Exec Director

   Whichever way you say it - 25 years or ‘a quarter of a century’ - Russell Eichman has been Executive Director of this organization for a long time.  Sadly for UMWA, Russ feels that this is an appropriate time to say goodbye and move on to the next chapter of his life. 
   Looking back, Russ says his years in the position (1993-2018) have graphically demonstrated the value of an Association, which for more than 90 years has brought together waterway interests to promote and protect the Upper Mississippi River navigation system.

 AB 495 
     Most memorable for Eichman was the 1996 battle over a Wisconsin law known as AB 495.  Although many organizations opposed that legislation and Eichman traveled to Madison to join others in testifying against it, it was passed. 
   As written, AB 495 would have allowed armed Wisconsin DNR officers to board any towboat underway on federal waters adjacent to Wisconsin. It also mandated escort vessels for any single-skin barge, even in congested waters.
   Eichman told the legislators, “Boarding and inspection of commercial towboats and barges should be left to the U.S. Coast Guard except in rare instances where DNR personnel have a reasonable suspicion that Wisconsin laws are being violated or have a legitimate probable cause to board.“

Settled by MOA   
   Eventually the matter was settled with a Memorandum of Agreement between the U.S. Coast Guard and the WI DNR.

Long transportation career
   During his more than 60 years in transportation, Eichman worked for Froedtert Malt Corp., Milwaukee as General Traffic Manager before joining Harvest States Cooperatives, (now CHS) as Vice President Corporate Transportation.  After retiring at Harvest States, he started TMC Consulting which represented Cooperative Management Development and the Minnesota Dept. of Transportation in various management development and rail issues.  Later,TMC was recruited to provide executive director services for UMWA.
   Russ has a BBA in Marketing from the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee and is a Class B attorney licensed to practice transportation law before the Interstate Commerce Commission.

Sorry to leave
   “Due to a death in the family and personal health considerations, and after giving the matter serious consideration, I have reluctantly terminated my contract services with UMWA,” Eichman says. “Even as I am unhappy to leave, UMWA, due to its talented officers and supportive membership is in a position to successfully meet future challenges.”
 
 
(Above) 'Tis the season for maintenance on the Upper Mississippi now that the last tow has departed.  The Corps conducts a tour at the bottom of a dewatered lock..
System closed for the season

   St. Paul harbor saw the last tow of the 2018 navigation season depart on November 25, when the Mv. Thomas E. Erickson, belonging to Marquette Transportation, headed down-bound. The last tow through Dam 10 at Guttenburg, Iowa, Dec. 1, was the Mv. Titletown U.S.A., also a Marquette boat. 
   The season opened April 11 when Mv. Michael Poindexter tied up in St. Paul with a tow of 12 barges.
 
Other items of interest...

*   American Soybean exporters are looking for new markets, which in turn could mean that smaller, containerized shipments will become part of the export mix.  Chad Hart, economics professor and crop markets specialist at Iowa State suggests “menu approach” to shipments into growing markets such as Mexico, Argentina, Thailand and Indonesia.

*   As UMWA members have often pointed out, deferred maintenance is costly and inefficient.  Underscoring that point are the recent notices to shippers and river companies using the Illinois Waterway System that a series of lock closures for repairs will create mini gridlocks on the system over the next two years.  First up is the Starved Rock Lock and Dam, which has been operating since 1933.  It is one of six that will be closed for various time periods during the work. A detailed explanation is available on YouTube.

 *  President Donald Trump signed legislation December 4, which will put the Delta Queen back on the nation’s waterways after a just-starting rehabilitation. No schedule, but prospective passengers can follow the boat’s progress at the company web site.

*   Even though Sartell, Minnesota is well above the navigable reach of the Mississippi, the construction company repairing a bridge in that community, found the easiest way to work was with construction barges anchored under the busiest bridge in Benton County.    

*   A reminder that the email address for the Upper Mississippi Waterway Association has changed. The new address is umwamail@gmail.com.  The Association web site and email associated with the web site remains umwa@umwa.net.
 
Copyright © 2017  Upper Mississippi Waterway Association.  
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