The South Coasts congressman took time on Friday morning to sing the praises of the Port of Brookings Harbor.

Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio spent several hours Friday morning with Port Manager Russ Crabtree touring the port, discussing future capital improvement projects and port maintenance.

The congressman from Springfield touts the port as an example of excellence in acquiring funds and management.

I think (the port) is a tremendous success story, DeFazio said. In less than a decade under Russ management it has changed into what we see here today from what it looked like before with gravel parking lots, a few trailers and old buildings.

Now it has become a tourist attraction and commercial center the busiest port on the Oregon coast, and maybe (the busiest) all the way down the Northern California coast.

And (Crabtree) plans to do more. This is an awesome success.

DeFazio said his contributions to the ports growth has taken place on several fronts.

Ive been involved in a number of port issues, he said. Ive helped with a number of grants and projects including the boardwalk and the expansion of the boat basin.

DeFazio has been valuable in assisting the port in obtaining federal dollars for several port building, renovation and expansion projects, Crabtree said.

The congressman has been instrumental in several of our past successes, he said. From our commercial retail project to the rebuilding of the (recreational) boat basin.

Without his assistance, these projects would have been impossible.

Continued federal funding for dredging has been a priority for DeFazio while he has been in Washington, D.C.

Its an annual fight to maintain dredging, he said. The Army Corps of Engineers bureaucracy in D.C. hates its dredging mission and has been targeting small ports.

Weve been able to beat them back so far.

DeFazio said the Corps wants out of the dredging business, which the congressman believes is not feasible.

They want to privatize, he said. But thats unrealistic as there is only one private dredging business, in Eureka, and they are not interested in doing business with the small ports.

They are expensive and not up to the standards of the Corps.

Crabtree agreed that DeFazios efforts on behalf of federal dredging were invaluable to the port.

He has constantly been on our vanguard for maintaining appropriations so we can dredge the Chetco Channel, Crabtree said.

Crabtree said, that in part, the ports continued success will be up to DeFazios continued efforts on its behalf.

Without his efforts, all of our past successes, Crabtree said, and all of our future opportunities wouldnt be possible.

DeFazio said he planned on carrying the ports flag in Washington, D.C.

I support their efforts and will continue to do so, he said. Theyre great.

They do an outstanding job and put forth a well-organized effort.