Delta Queen future


Congressman Steve Chabot

Congressman Steve Chabot

In an effort led by Ohio Congressman Steve Chabot… (drum roll, please)… on Wednesday, Sep. 25, the U.S. House passed HR1961 which moves the Delta Queen one step closer to the possibility of returning to cruising America’s rivers!

Read the update from Congressman Chabot’s website here:
http://chabot.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=351162

Here’s an article from the Chattanooga Times Free Press with quotes from Delta Queen representative Cornell Martin:
http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2013/sep/27/vote-good-news-for-delta-queen/

Stay tuned!

 

Here is the text of a letter sent by House Representative Steve Chabot which was read meeting gathering on Saturday:

September 20, 2013

To all those gathered,

First, let me apologize for not being present at today’s event. My work in Washington and in my district is keeping me away, but I applaud everyone gathered here for your commitment to this issue.

I would like to thank and recognize Randy and Leah Ann Ingram, Phillip Johnson, Cornel Martin, and each person that has worked so hard to get the Queen moving again!

The Delta Queen is vessel that will always have a special place in my heart.

For most of my life, she docked along the banks of theOhio River, where she picked up tourists and honeymooners eager to experience America’s rivers in a unique and historic fashion.

The Delta Queen is beloved not just by me, but by many – particularly my fellow Cincinnatians who spent years watching her glide into to our city to unload passengers at dawn. And then sail out with a new group of river farers at dusk.

It is very fitting that the “Queen City” would be home to the Delta Queen. And I hope she can return there once again.

This gathering has been a long time coming.

In 2007, I introduced a bill in the House to extend the Queen’s exemption. And in the Senate, this effort was cosponsored by two men who rarely see eye-to-eye: Mitch McConnell and Barack Obama. They don’t agree on much, but they agreed on this.

Unfortunately, discord and disagreement won the day, and the vessel lost its ability to operate.

But, that was then and this now. Today, we have a renewed and strengthened coalition of support.

When I reintroduced the Delta Queen bill this Congress, I did so with a bipartisan group of lawmakers who all sharethe vision of returning the vessel to full operation.

I owe thanks to every cosponsor of this bill, but I owe special thanks to Congressman Lacey Clay of St. Louis, Missouri and Congressman Steve Cohen of Memphis, Tennessee who have been my partners in this fight from the very beginning.

Senators Brown & Portman of Ohio, and Senators Landrieu and Vitter of Louisiana also deserve our thanks for introducing the bill in the Senate.

In addition to lawmakers, we also have a robust group of outside groups that understand that this bill does two very important things:

1.

It helps preserve a piece of American history

2.

And it will create and support jobs

So, I owe special thanks to the Seafarers International Union, the American Maritime Officers, and the National Historic Trust for their partnerships.

Soon the fruits of our labor will come to bear, as I am proud to announce that the House of Representatives will be voting on the Delta Queen legislation this coming Wednesday.

I am relatively confident in our chance of success, but weshould take nothing for granted.

The bill enjoys the support of both the chairman and ranking member of the Transportation Committee, but westill need everyone within earshot to tell their friends and neighbors to contact their Member of Congress andencourage them to support this bipartisan bill (H.R. 1961).

Let me close, by reminding everyone of something I think is very important.

The Delta Queen does not belong moored to a dock.

She belongs on America’s riverways.

And with the passage of this bill, that’s where she will return.

Thank you all and God bless!

Sincerely,

Steve Chabot

Member of Congress

We attended a gathering aboard the Delta Queen which included an exciting update from Cornell Martin (former Delta Queen Steamboat Company executive working to return the boat to cruising): The Congressional bill that would help open the door to the Delta Queen possibly cruising again is scheduled to be voted on by the House on Wednesday!

This is, of course the first step of many, but it is a step long waited for since the Delta Queen moored in Chattanooga in February 2008 to serve as a dockside hotel.
Former Delta Queen Captains Mike Williams and Gabe Chengary were also in attendance and shared inspiring words and lovely memories. Leah Ann and Randy Ingram shared the excitement. They are the current operators of the Delta Queen Hotel and leaders of the effort to return the vessel to cruising.
Track the Billy’s progress online here:

Within the last month, bills have been introduced in both the House and Senate which if enacted would renew the expired exemption allowing the steamboat “Delta Queen” to again cruise America’s Rivers without restrictions imposed by the 1966 Safety Of Life At Sea Act which restricted the Delta Queen’s wooden superstructure (the portion of vessel built above the steel hull).

Since 1966, this last remaining authentic overnight steam-powered paddlewheeler received numerous extensions to this exemption up until 2008 when the renewal lapsed as the boat’s then-owner Ambassador’s International ceased their riverboat operations as the company slid toward their eventual bankruptcy.

The historic vessel, a National Historic Landmark, currently resides docked in Chattanooga, Tennessee and is open as a bed and breakfast under a lease agreement with the boat’s current owner Xanterra Parks & Resorts. An investment team is working toward purchasing the vessel from Xanterra and hopes that the congressional exemption renewal could enable he boat to return to river cruising.

You can follow the progress of these bills online:

To follow Senate Bill 1022, CLICK HERE.

To follow House Bill 1961, CLICK HERE.

If the Delta Queen is a treasure that you would like to see continue to preserve steamboat history, certainly contact your Senate and Congressional representatives, the co-sponsors of the bills, and the members of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation and House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, specifically the subcommittee for Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.

Stay tuned for further updates on these exciting developments!

The Daytona Beach News-Journal made official yesterday rumors that have been circulating for weeks – that Wayne Heller has abandoned plans to purchase the steamboat Delta Queen. So, for now, she will remain in Chattanooga and open to visitors hoping to experience a this National Historic Landmark.

Stay tuned for the continuing saga…

To read the full article online, CLICK HERE.

 

 

Wayne Heller is to make his proposal Sept 11 to the New Smyrna Beach council regarding his hopes to purchase the Delta Queen steamboat and relocate it to eastern Florida. City officials have asked him to address about 40 questions related to the possible relocation ranging from “whether the boat will be painted and bottom cleaned on an established schedule to how much parking will be provided at the Causeway site” to concerns over possible navigation impediments that must be assertained by the US Coast Guard and Army Corp of Engineers.

Heller said is still working on purchasing the boat from its current owner, Xanterra Parks and Resorts.

Read more at the link below.

http://www.news-journalonline.com/article/20120904/NEWS/309049955

Tuesday, April 24, city leaders of New Smyrna Beach, FL declined to extend the short term lease agreement requested by investor Wayne Heller which would have allowed him a docking place for his plans to purchase and relocate the steamboat Delta Queen. Instead the city will accept other proposals and after a vetting process the City Commission would vote on a lease agreement for the site in December. Heller had wanted to relocate the Delta Queen by June 1. Heller says he still hopes to purchase the historic vessel.

Click the links below to read the recent newpaper accounts:

Daytona Beach News-Journal, April 25, 2012

Daytona Beach News-Journal, April 26, 2012

Stay tuned for further developments.

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