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Judge tosses lawsuit over ferry's operating hours

VICKSBURG — A lawsuit challenging how many hours the Kings Point Ferry operates each day has been thrown out by a judge.

The Vicksburg Post reports the lawsuit was M&M Property, L.P.’s third attempt in 15 years to force Warren County to keep the vessel open 15-1/2 hours daily.

Chancery Judge Ray Montgomery, appointed by the state Supreme Court to hear the case, ruled that the case had been dismissed without prejudice in 2002 and he had nothing before him to rule on.

Filed originally in 1997, the company had settled with the county in 2008, contingent on the ferry running 15-1/2 hours instead of 12.

Two U.S. Coast Guard-certified pilots paid about $16 an hour and a contract backup paid $25 an hour when needed have steered the ferry since 2010.

Through each incarnation of the suit, county supervisors have argued that budget constraints keep the county at a competitive disadvantage in terms of pay and daily service.

M&M refiled briefs in the dormant case last September with support from Paradise Hunting Club and Louisiana-based Riverland Plantation. The group’s members sought damages from the county to pay for flood damage from the Mississippi River Flood of 2011 they said was caused by the ferry running shorter days.

Hunting and tree farming dominate activity on Kings Point Island, which was cut off from mainland Warren County when the Mississippi River changed course in the late 19th century and prompted construction of the Yazoo Diversion Canal, which opened in 1903.

The current vessel, purchased in 2005 for more than $600,000, is the lone access hunters, loggers and the island’s part-time residents have to the vast, remote brush.

Alternatives to the ferry have never grown out of concept phase.

A road atop a raised levee across the canal proposed a decade ago was estimated to cost $8 million. Funding issues caused most recent study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build a road to be halted in 2008.

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