Sunday, January 12, 2014

A boat at South Point

I was in South Point, Ohio, yesterday. It's across from the Big Sandy River, and if you look on the left side of this picture, you can see a boat entering the Big Sandy from the Ohio. That's Catlettsburg, Ky., in the background.

The A.B. York is tied up at one of several places in this area where Marathon Petroleum parks its barges. Marathon has a refinery a mile up two up the Big Sandy.

I shot this from my car while on a street that had no other traffic. There was no place to park, and this was about the best angle I was going to get anyway. The boat is the M/V A.B.York of what I think is Florida Transportation.

For various reasons, I'm careful in small towns in Ohio where I don't know anybody. A few years ago, I knew the mayor and a councilman or two in South Point, but they have passed away, so there would be no use namedropping if a village policeman stopped me for anything. While musing on that, I got to thinking about how I once covered South Point and other communities in Ohio for the Huntington WV newspaper. And from that, I realized it was 25 years ago this spring that I last attended a meeting of the South Point Village Council.

South Point at the time was a community of about 4,500 people. It was one of several I covered. My MO was simple: The council met twice a month, on Tuesday evenings. That day or the day before, I would call up the mayor (I still remember his home phone number) or the village administrator (I remember the office number) to check the agenda. If there was something interesting, I attended the meeting. If not, I found something else to do.

The 1980s were interesting in South Point. As with other communities, South Point was under pressure to upgrade its sewage, er, wastewater treatment plant. And its water system needed a new storage tank. Utilities are a topic of interest for readers, but a lot of newspaper reporters would rather cover something else. I wrote so many stories about sewers and sewage treatment in the mid-1980s that I claimed the unofficial title of World Sewer Writing Champion for both 1984 and 1985.

My daily newspaper days included a lot of stories about water systems, too, but young reporters don't find them near as dull as wastewater treatment. Yet I got a lot of good stories, built a decent reputation and learned a lot by throwing myself into covering mundane stuff that led to better things.


Unknown said...

Marathon has purchased the towboats - A. B. York and Tye Dolese from Florida Marine. The are to be renamed Canton and Galveston Bay after two of their Refineries.
This info is from the current issue of the Waterways Journal

ohio981 said...

Buying a subscription to the WJ is on my to-do list as soon as I clear up my backlog of bills. But that's been my plan for a while. Maybe I should just go ahead and buy the subscription.