Maybe the effort will be dwarfed by what could be down the road, but activity out of the Port of Port St. Joe can only be characterized as a positive for the local economy.

Maybe the effort will be dwarfed by what could be down the road, but activity out of the Port of Port St. Joe can only be characterized as a positive for the local economy.

On one side the waterway, there is Townsend Marine and its ongoing work on two fronts; shipping oyster shells to Mississippi for the restoration of coastal areas and barging rock destined for Central Florida for use as revetment structures.

Townsend had another vessel and crew in this past week, filling up on fuel and groceries en route to Mississippi.

Meanwhile, a road connecting the former Arizona Chemical site to the former paper mill site bulkhead, constructed in partnership between the county and the St. Joe Company, is nearing completion.

Warren Yeager, executive director of the Gulf County Economic Development Coalition, said Tuesday the road would be ready by the time International Wood Group was ready to begin shipping from the bulkhead.

That company, a tenant of St. Joe and the Port St. Joe Port Authority, is staging equipment and undertaking needed upgrades on the Arizona Chemical site, with an eye on beginning the shipping of wood pellets from the port sometime in early 2018.

Finally, on the port front, the county on Tuesday formally approved a joint agreement with the Florida Department of Transportation to receive $6 million appropriated in the spring by the Florida Legislature to begin construction of a floating dry dock in the turning basin of the ship channel.

The county is seeking an additional $15 million, at minimum, from Triumph Gulf Coast to facilitate the dry dock project, which would trigger the long-awaited expansion of Eastern Shipbuilding to Gulf County. --- Tim Croft