Emergency harbor grant helps local company

F.J. Robers moves 650,000 tons each year

Emergency harbor grant helps local...

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - A large grant from Wisconsin's governor is giving a local company a much-needed boost, and it impacts the roads we drive every day during the winter months.

Governor Scott Walker approved a nearly $1.2 million emergency harbor assistance grant to F.J. Robers Company of La Crosse.

It's to repair a dock wall along the Mississippi River.

Officials said the imports and exports of commodities that happen at the LA Crosse company were in jeopardy without the repairs.

Nestled on French Island, F.J. Robers moves 650,000 tons of material each year.

"We handle multiple bulk products going from barge to truck to rail, from rail to truck to barge,” said president John Noyes.

It also carries something very important to communities during the winter months.

"We deliver salt to a 120-mile radius,” Noyers said.

Last fall, Noyes covered a problem along the dock wall, which was built more than 30 years ago.

"We had a failure. aAfter we excavated, we found out that the wall was very badly deteriorated," Noyes said.

This year’s busy winter left communities without a local source of salt.

"It makes it very challenging to get resupplied with salt. As you can see, we have none,” Noyes said. “We had 60,000 tons to start the year."

The total cost to repair the wall was $1.5 million, leaving Noyes in a tough spot.

"It would significantly impact what we can do and what we can't do,” Noyes said.

The state-approved grant will help Noyes pay a portion of the repairs.

"A program that the state developed basically for this issue,” Noyes said.

While it looks like just a wall, its repair is significant to the area's economy.

"It's exported from all over the world or imported from all over the world,” Noyes said. “To not have the ability to do that, significantly financially impacts the whole entire state."

With the salt supply essentially gone at the company, communities and counties have actually traveled up to Winona for extra salt during this busy winter season.

Construction is expected to last through June of this year.

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