Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Grim outlook for Cave In Rock Ferry

With its current contract expiring on Sunday, prospects appear grim for Cave In Rock Ferry service to continue next week.

For several weeks, negotiators have tried to hash out a new deal, and while the price has been tentatively agreed upon, there are sticking points in broader language of the contract.

At the heart of the matter is Kentucky's procurement policy, which neither the ferry owner nor Cave In Rock Ferry Authority say they have been subject to in the past. 

The Ferry Authority, made up of local volunteers, acts as a pass-through agency and has no administrative staff. Crittenden County Judge-Executive Perry Newcom chairs the Ferry Authority. Kentucky's proposed contract calls for monthly reporting by the authority to the state.

Illinois pays for half of the contract cost, but it defers to Kentucky during contract negotiations. The ferry operates on a two-year contract and over the past 6 years there has been greater strife at contract time. The ferry actually quit operating for a time in 2018.

Based on conversations with both sides of the contract talks, it appears highly unlikely that the ferry will operate beyond Sunday.

Kentucky issued a news release on Tuesday that appears to indicate that it is working on an alternative plan. 

Lonnie Lewis, who has operated the ferry for the past 30 years, holds a more than 200-year-old franchise to operate a ferry at the landing on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River. He also owns the property where the ferry landing is located on the Kentucky shore.

We will continue to follow this very important matter, so stay tuned to The Press Online for further developments.