TXI dedicates new dredge, the Dennis Courtney

Published 3:37 am Sunday, October 21, 2007

TXI Operations LLP, formerly known as Texas Industries, dedicated a new dredge, part of which was built in Poplarville by Best Equipment Technologies, on Thursday.

The new dredge, which was christened the Dennis Courtney, is only the second new dredge for the company since 1981, said Dana Link, TXI general manager for Louisiana aggregates. The other dredge was dedicated in Belle Savoy, Okla., approximately two months ago.

“This new dredge will increase production capacity … and allow us to provide dependable, high-quality products. We are committed to operating safely and ethically,” Link said.

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Bob Wetta of Dredging Supply Company said the new dredge is approximately 94 feet long and 70 feet wide, and has an electric motor, as opposed to gasoline-powered motors on other dredges.

“(This dredge) is more fuel and production efficient. It is designed to produce 60 percent more over existing operations. … As I overheard another TXI employee say, ‘Today, we are moving from the 18th century to the 21st century in dredge technology,’” Wetta said.

“TXI currently has three diesel-driven dredges. This new one is electric, and is more efficient and environmentally friendly. This new dredge will produce the same amount as two of the smaller ones,” said David Gunter, TXI area manager for South Louisiana aggregates.

Link said the dredge was being named in honor of a former TXI employee, Dennis Courtney, who was killed in April, 2005.

Tom Curran, another TXI employee and friend of Courtney, said Courtney was a hard-working, loyal employee who deserved the honor of having the dredge named after him.

“Sometimes the good Lord takes things away from us before we’re ready. I just hope the dredge does as good a job as the guy it is named after did,” Curran said.

TXI produces sand and gravel for construction projects, such as that used in Ready-Mix concrete, asphalt, and bridge pilings. A new plant is also being built to handle the increased production capacity of the new dredge, which should be online by the end of November, Gunter said.

“Our current plants are too small to handle the increased production. This dedication is to introduce both the new dredge and the new plant,” Gunter said.

The dredge was built by Dredging Supply Company, which is based in Reserve, La. DSC subcontracted the construction of the hull and flotation to Best Equipment in Poplarville, said David Miller, president of operations for Best Equipment in a telephone interview.

“We subcontracted to build the steel hull, the tanks and structural components from Dredging Supply. We also built the hull for the (dredge) dedicated in Oklahoma also,” Miller said.

Best Equipment has been in operation in Poplarville since March of 1998. They built steel hulls and structural components to subcontract for other companies worldwide, Miller said.