L. E. "Ed" Thompson has been in the forefront in the promotion and development of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System. He is board member of both the Arkansas Basin Association (ABA), the Arkansas Basin Development Association (ABDA), and has served as member and chairman of the Arkansas Waterways Commission. He has twice served as president of the Arkansas-Oklahoma Port Operators Association (AOPOA) and has served two terms-one as chairman-on the Inland Waterways User Board where he actively supported development of Montgomery Point Lock and Dam (MPLD). He is a member of the coalition for MPLD, and has served as a director for the National Waterways Conference (NWC). Ed has aggressively pioneered development and utilization of facilities along the waterway as well as its continued development.
As president of the Pine Bluff Warehouse Company (PBW), Ed Thompson inaugurated inter-modal river-rail-truck terminal operations on the navigation system at the Port of Pine Bluff. Soon after, PBW began intermodal operations at the Port of Fort Smith. Through the years, he was instrumental in development of innovative multimodal transportation and material handling services at both Pine Bluff and Fort Smith. Among the many first attributable to his leadership was the development of covered "all weather" loading facilities, LASH barge service, and container by barge shipments-all at Pine Bluff.
Thompson's civic work covers a broad spectrum of activities. He is a member of the Pine Bluff Chamber of Commerce, Jefferson County United Way, and is a director for downtown development in Pine Bluff. He has always been relied upon to contribute to the efforts of the Pine Bluff-Jefferson County Port Authority and the Jefferson County Industrial Foundation in their work with existing industries and efforts to establish new industries in the Pine Bluff area.
M. S. "Mitch" Mitchell has been linked for most of his life to projects involving the Arkansas River. He rose through the ranks as an engineer for the City-County Flood Control Office from 1949, until completion of the Wichita Valley Center Flood Control (WVFCP) Project that consisted of about 50 miles of channels and 100 miles of levees, in 1959. As Supervisor of the Flood Control and Stream Maintenance Section for the City of Wichita and Flood Control Superintendent for Sedgwick County, 1957-1978, he was responsible for operation, maintenance, repair and improvement for this project. In addition to this he was Staff Secretary for the Waterway Development Advisory Board, 1974-1977. As early as 1959, with assistance from the Tulsa District Office of the United States Corps of Engineers, he developed a cross section plan for the Arkansas River, downstream from the point of diversion on the WVFCP. He directed construction of this design-a channel approximately 10 miles long-through the city. Most of this system is still in place today.
Mitch Mitchell directed Flood Control engineering staff to make discharge measurements a 20 or more sites on the Arkansas River, its tributary streams and the WVFCP channels to begin construction of rating curves to be used for flood forecasting. He developed a network of approximately 50 volunteer rainfall observers to report any rain in excess of ½ inch at least every 24 hours. This provides information to local weather service personnel who in turn inform the Tulsa Forecast Center for use in flood forecasting. Furthermore, he partnered with the USGS to produce the first comprehensive record of floods in the Wichita vicinity. His report was published as HA-63, and titled "Floods at Wichita, Kansas" in 1963.
His service to the city and county included his position as Member for River/Stream Issues of the Environmental Resources Advisory Board of the City of Wichita 1979-1980, Member for River/Stream Issues for the Sedgwick County Environmental Resources Advisory Board 1980-1982, and Member of the City Drainage Criteria Task Force. He was a member of the Water Resources Committee 1987-1998, and Environmental Resources Committee, 1999-2001, for the Wichita Chamber of Commerce.
Following retirement from the City-County Flood Control Office, he began providing consulting services in flood plain management and land development. He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, American Congress of Surveying and Mapping, and the American Public Works Association.
The name Jack Story has been linked to the development of the Arkansas River Navigation System since the 1950s. As a member of the Arkansas Basin Development Association (ABDA), he served on the Membership Committee, Tri-State Committee & Delegation to Congressional Appropriation Hearings in Washington, D.C. He was elected Director, President, Chairman of the Board, and awarded a lifetime membership.
As a member of the Metropolitan Tulsa Chamber of Commerce (MTCC) since the 1940s, he played a significant role in the planning and development of the Tulsa Port of Catoosa. Jack served on the Area Development, Industrial, Water Resources, Navigation & Port Committees. He arranged planning meetings and preplanned navigation study tours and was a tour member on all six tours (1960-1966) of major inland river ports and navigation systems. He was co-author of The Inland Waterway Port Analysis, 1962, published by the MTCC. This was a feasibility study and promotion guide for the Tulsa port bond issue projects. Story served on the bond promotion committees for the two successful City of Tulsa General Obligation Bond Issues for the port. In 1971, he was appointed to the MTCC Board of Directors.
In 1965, he traveled with civic leaders to Galveston, TX, to the National Convention of the Propeller Club of the United States and received the Charter for the Port of Tulsa Chapter, which had 41 members. He served as Vice-President during the tenure of Early Cass, elected President in 1967, he subsequently remained a member of the board. He was Co-Chairman of the Port of Tulsa Convention Committee for the 1971 Propeller Club National Convention.
In 1971, Frank Fulenwider, and Jacques Cunningham joined with Story to form the Arkansas River Development Corporation (ARDC), a non-profit 501.3.c Corporation. This was a two state cooperative effort approved by the governors of Arkansas and Oklahoma along with the Federal Government (with funding by the Ozarks Regional Commission) to form an agency to promote the total development and the maximum use of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System. Governor Bumpers (AR) and Governor Hall (OK) appointed the six ARDC board members. Senator McClellan approved project funding and the appointment of Story as Project Coordinator during the early 1970s. the ARDC staff enabled the creation of the Arkansas-Oklahoma Port Operators Association (AOPOA). ARDC provided guidance for the early river basin developments in both states, including research, action programs, promotion of industry, barge transportation, and establishment of major ports.
Some of his other waterway related activities include participation in the Corps of Engineers first cruise of the upper navigation pool in December 1970. In 1971 he was commissioned as Admiral of Oklahoma by Governor David Hall, appointed to the Federal River Compact Commission, and prepared a study: Courses of Action to Encourage Development of the Arkansas River Navigation System, for the Ozarks Regional commission, Little Rock, AR. He is a charter member of the Arkansas River Historical Society, and has served as president and chairman of the board. In 1997, he received the Governor's Award as an Oklahoma Water Pioneer.
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