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Photos by Joe Wilhelm Jr. - As part of its 50th anniversary celebration, Jacksonville Port Authority staff hosted about 30 members of the public Wednesday for a tour of port properties. In the background are vehicles at the Blount Island Marine Termi...
Jax Daily Record Thursday, Jan. 24, 201312:00 PM EST

Port celebrates 50th anniversary with tours

by: Joe Wilhelm Jr.

 Commerce has moved through Jacksonville's ports for nearly 500 years, but the Jacksonville Port Authority was created by the state Legislature 50 years ago.

The port is celebrating its golden anniversary by taking the public on tours of what it has created during its history.

About 30 people boarded a charter bus Wednesday morning at the port cruise terminal to tour the Blount Island and Dames Point Marine Terminals to learn about what federal, state and local leaders often have called an "economic driver."

"In my 10 years of working at the port, I don't think we have ever had a program of public tours that has provided this type of access," said Joanne Kazmierski, tour guide and manager of the port's community outreach and environmental advocacy.

Kazmierski also answered questions from tour participants.

Inquiries included the type of cargo the port handles, the size and costs of containers, dredging, the number of businesses located at the port, average salaries for port workers and how many families it expects to draw to the area, among other questions asked.

Guest received answers or provided contacts for people who would better able to help.

The tour was the first of a year-long program.

Monthly bus tours of the port authority's largest cargo terminal, 754-acre Blount Island, will be scheduled the fourth Wednesday of each month through most of the year. Registration will open by the first day of each month and space is limited.

The port handled a total of 8.1 million tons of cargo in 2011, including more than 900,000 TEUs, short for 20-foot equivalent units, which was a new container record. It also had more than 520,000 vehicles, making JaxPort the second largest automobile-handling facility in the U.S. and No. 1 in vehicle exports, according to the port.

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