VICKSBURG, Miss. (AP) — A lack of pilots and engine problems has forced a Mississippi county to close the Kings Point Ferry until further notice.
The ferry is the only public access to the Kings Point area since construction of the Yazoo Diversion Canal in 1903 cut it off from the mainland of Warren County.
Kings Point is an island made up mostly of hunting camps and timber farming. The ferry ran daily from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. carrying hunters and workers across the canal. Its busiest periods are deer and turkey seasons, and the peak fishing time.
The Vicksburg Post reports County Road Manager Larry Flowers says he’s preparing an advertisement for pilots.
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“We had one pilot quit and the other is deceased,” county administrator John Smith said this week. “And we had two contract people (pilots), and they’re gone. We need to hire two pilots.”
“They’re (the contractors) working at regular jobs,” District 1 Supervisor John Arnold said. “So right now, we don’t have a ferry.”
Flowers, whose department is over the ferry, said one of the contract pilots will be unavailable for 14 days, but was not sure of the other. “We’re at the point right now where we don’t have a choice but to shut the ferry down once we get everyone off the island,” he said.
He told the board he wants to shut the service down now so road department employees can overhaul the ferry’s engine. He said the parts have already been received for the work, which could take about eight days to complete.
“And maybe by the time we have a pilot, it will be up and running,” Flowers said.
The Board of Supervisors in June paid more than $200,000 for major repairs to the ferry, including work on the push boat engine assemblies, gearbox engine assemblies, propeller assemblies, and repairs to its bumpers, handrails, ramps, repairing a wheelhouse leak around the searchlight and repairing the horn on the wheelhouse.
The present boat was purchased for about $600,000 in June 2005. It was damaged in February 2006 when a ramp on the ferry broke away and sank in the canal when the vessel pulled away from Kings Point Island after dropping off a vehicle.
Information from: The Vicksburg Post, http://www.vicksburgpost.com