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BRIEF: Fire destroys building, big rig at Santa Rosa trucking company [The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, Calif.]

May 24–Oil-soaked rags, likely used for staining, were the apparent cause of a fire that gutted a building at a Fulton trucking company in northern Santa Rosa early Wednesday, according to Rincon Valley fire officials.

The fire, at the Hansen Transport shop at River and Fulton roads, burned a big rig parked inside and resulted in an estimated $300,000 loss in property, said Rincon Valley Fire Chief Jack Piccinini.

The fire was reported just before 1 a.m. Firefighters from the nearby Larkfield station arrived to find flames engulfing the estimated 5,000-square-foot shop, said Rincon Valley fire Capt. Neil Nicholson. Cal Fire, Windsor and Santa Rosa fire agencies also responded.

An office in the building and a second vehicle parked nearby also burned, Nicholson said.

The fire was under control in 33 minutes, according to the dispatch log. Crews were at the property until about 3 a.m.

Firefighters found the linseed oil and rags after putting out the fire, Piccinini said.

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(c)2017 The Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, Calif.)

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Troubled trucking firm Roadrunner Transportation will move headquarters from Cudahy to Illinois [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

May 24–Roadrunner Transportation Systems Inc. will move its headquarters from Cudahy to Downers Grove, Ill., the trucking and logistics company said Wednesday.

Some 185 jobs will remain in Cudahy, where Roadrunner has offices and a terminal at 4900 S. Pennsylvania Ave. No workforce reduction is planned, the company said.

The move comes amid leadership changes at the firm, which has been troubled by accounting issues and a stock price that has fallen by more than a third since January.

Along with the relocation, Roadrunner said it has named a new chief financial officer — a change that comes just three weeks after the company appointed a new CEO.

Taking over financial leadership is Terence R. Rogers, who comes to Roadrunner from The Heico Companies, a Chicago-based group of more than 35 businesses involved in manufacturing, construction and industrial services.

Rogers replaces Peter Armbruster, who was terminated as chief financial officer on March 29. His departure followed disclosure of accounting discrepancies at two operating subsidiaries that forced Roadrunner to warn investors not to rely on its financial statements of the last three years.

The company has been working to restate nearly two years’ worth of financial results, lowering previously reported earnings.

In the wake of the accounting woes, various investors have filed three separate lawsuits against Roadrunner, alleging they were misled by the company’s earlier statements of its performance. Those actions have been consolidated in federal court in Milwaukee, with the Mississippi public employees pension system designated as the lead plaintiff.

Early this month, Roadrunner also replaced CEO Mark DiBlasi.

DiBlasi, who oversaw an aggressive acquisition course that made the Cudahy trucking company one of the country’s 20 largest carriers, was replaced by Curt Stoelting, who came to Roadrunner in January 2016 as president and chief operating officer.

Both Stoelting and Rogers, the new chief financial officer, have homes in suburban Chicago — where Roadrunner’s corporate headquarters now will move. Stoelting owns a home in Hinsdale, Ill., about five miles from Downers Grove, property records show. Rogers has a home in Barrington, Ill., about 30 miles away, records indicate.

Before joining Roadrunner, Stoelting was CEO of RC2 Corp., an Oak Brook, Ill.- based child-products and toy company, and TOMY International, whose Tokyo-based corporate parent acquired RC2 in April 2011. He resigned from TOMY in April 2013.

In a statement, Roadrunner said it is moving the headquarters to Downers Grove “to locate its new executive management team for easier travel to both customers and geographically dispersed operating units.”

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(c)2017 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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GOP launches another assault on Rhode Island’s truck-toll plan [The Providence Journal, R.I.]

May 24–PROVIDENCE, R.I. — In their latest assault on Rhode Island’s impending truck toll network, Republican state lawmakers and the trucking industry on Tuesday released an analysis claiming the plan will generate far less revenue than expected and lead to unnecessary construction projects.

The analysis, unveiled at a State House news conference, said hidden costs connected with the toll plan will cancel out most of the estimated $45 million annual state revenue from the tolls, leaving net proceeds of just $7.4 million.

“… We have discovered a flaw in the toll law that should make every Rhode Islander even more disgusted at the concealed ramifications of this harmful law,” said House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan, R-West Warwick.

Some of the $37.6 million in hidden costs identified by the Republican lawmakers have been reported before or aren’t necessarily tied to tolls. For example, the state’s decision to borrow against federal highway aid, resulting in $25 million in annual payments, could easily have been made regardless of the toll plan. That $25 million makes up more than two-thirds of the identified “hidden costs.”

Another $1.1 million in lost revenue from a local trucking industry relief package was discovered earlier this month by Christopher Maxwell, president of the Rhode Island Trucking Association. Maxwell said Tuesday that one of the bridges slated for both truck toll gantries and reconstruction doesn’t need to be rebuilt.

Separately, the trucking industry estimates that trucks will avoid Rhode Island highways once the 14 tolls are in place and the state will collect only a fraction of the $45 million in expected revenue even without accounting for the hidden costs.

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(c)2017 The Providence Journal (Providence, R.I.)

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Quincy aims to be an ‘inland port’ for global shipping [The Wenatchee World, Wash.]

May 23–QUINCY — Imagine this … trucks haul shipping containers to Quincy. Trains tote those same containers to ships in Seattle. Those ships deliver the containers to Pacific markets.

Sounds simple, right? But this shipping idea — now percolating among national truck, rail and steamship companies — could ease cross-mountain transport complicated by fickle winter road conditions and Puget Sound’s extreme traffic congestion.

“It’s an old idea that’s gaining new traction,” said Patrick Boss, spokesman for the Port of Quincy. “And we’re ready to go. We’ve got the facilities ready to start tomorrow.”

Informal talks are underway, said Boss, to transform the Port of Quincy’s mostly-idle shipping terminal into an “inland port” for delivering trucked containers by rail to West Coast docks.

Quincy port officials touted the proposal last week as one solution for reducing traffic congestion, speeding deliveries, increasing shipped quantities, shrinking carbon footprints and boosting investment in warehouses, storage yards and peripheral ag and shipping services

As proposed, trucks from around eastern Washington and beyond would deliver containers loaded with dry goods — hay, beans, corn, wheat and other grains — to Quincy’s Intermodal Terminal, where they’d be loaded onto westbound trains.

The Intermodal Terminal is a shipping transfer hub formerly used to deliver Washington State fruit and produce by rail to Midwest markets. That service ended in 2014 with the terminal now sitting idle most days. Waste Management has proposed using the terminal as a rail-to-truck transfer site for trash headed from western Washington to the Greater Wenatchee Regional Landfill near Pangborn Memorial Airport.

Boss said the latest shipping proposal surfaced in February when representatives of the Northwest Seaport Alliance, a partnership of the ports of Seattle and Tacoma, gave a presentation to ag and shipping managers in central Washington on the value of establishing one or more inland ports. Facilities in Quincy and Benson County were mentioned, said Boss.

Now the discussion has broadened, said Boss, to include the International Longshoremen’s Association, trucking and rail shipping companies, steamship lines and ag producers.

“We’ve already received inquiries from wheat shippers in eastern Washington,” said Boss. “They’re talking 100 containers per week going to Seattle ports with no wasted time sitting in traffic, messing up shipping schedules.”

Now it’s up to the Port of Quincy to “keep the dialogue going and come up with some serious options” for shippers, said Boss. “We need commitments from all parties involved, then rates and schedules need to be figured out. There’s still a lot of work to do.”

He added, “But the impetus is there. Interest is growing. Things are starting to happen.”

Reach Mike Irwin at 509-665-1179 or irwin@wenatcheeworld.com. Read his blog Everyday Business. follow him on Twitter at @MikeIrwinWW.

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(c)2017 The Wenatchee World (Wenatchee, Wash.)

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Truck spills foul-smelling chicken parts on St. John Street [Portland Press Herald, Maine]

May 23–An unknown number of gallons of chicken parts spilled over a mile of St. John Street in Portland early Tuesday morning.

Residents woke up to the messy — and pungent — spill in the Libbytown neighborhood. The chicken parts, which police say were not hazardous, spilled when the tailgate of a truck operated by Agri-Cycle Energy, a Maine-based food waste collection company, malfunctioned, allowing waste to fall out, according to city officials.

The truck was hauling the food waste to Ecomaine for processing.

Portland police Lt. Robert Martin said the truck malfunctioned around 5 a.m. and the company that owns the truck cleaned up most of the mess.

One lane of St. John Street between Park and Brighton avenues was strewn with chicken parts until around 7 a.m., reports WCSH-TV. The TV station reported cars were driving through the chicken bits at 6 a.m. before police and cleanup crews arrived to take care of the mess.

Dan Bell, general manager of Agri-Cycle, said this is the first time one of the company’s collection trucks has spilled food waste. When the driver realized the waste, including chicken parts and other food, had spilled, he immediately stopped the truck. The company called police for help, then brought in a second truck and five additional employees to help shovel the waste off the street.

Bell said he doesn’t know exactly how much spilled, but the spill stretched for about a mile down St. John Street.

“Based on what I saw, it wasn’t a tremendous amount,” he said.

Agri-Cycle operates a fleet of trucks that collect food waste from restaurants, supermarkets and other businesses and bring it to companies that convert the waste into electricity, fuel and fertilizer.

According to federal motor carrier records, Agri-Cycle operates about a dozen trucks, and has passed seven of the last 14 safety inspections in the previous two years. It had one reportable crash last August, but details of the incident are not public. The carrier has not been assessed any penalties by federal authorities in the last seven years, the amount of time for which records are publicly viewable.

By 9:30 a.m., the piles of waste had been removed, and all that remained were faint stains and a lingering odor, and a City of Portland street sweeper made several passes through the area to help alleviate the stench.

The Department of Public Works was called in to help clean up the smaller pieces after truck company employees used shovels to load the bulk of the waste back into the truck. City crews helped spread sand and sweep up the mess, then used a street sweeper and water truck to rinse the road.

Bell said the company is still trying to determine why the truck gate malfunctioned and what needs to be done to make sure it doesn’t happen again. He also said the company will work with the city to make sure the cleanup was thorough.

“We will continue to monitor this with public works to make sure if smells develop we address this immediately,” Bell said.

Staff writer Matt Byrne contributed to this report.

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(c)2017 the Portland Press Herald (Portland, Maine)

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BRIEF: These are the costliest states for trucking congestion [Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn.]

May 23–Traffic congestion on U.S. highways annually costs the trucking industry more than $63 billion in operating expenses, including wasted fuel, labor costs and vehicle wear and tear, according to a study by the American Transportation Research Institute for the American Trucking Associations. The study estimates congestion delays on U.S. highways result in more than 996 million hours of lost productivity, or the equivalent of having 362,243 commercial truck drivers sitting idle for an entire year. The costliest states for trucking congestion are:

1. Florida — $5.3 billion

2. Texas — $5.1 billion

3. California — $4.2 billion

4. New York — $3.9 billion

5. New Jersey — $3 billion

6. Illinois — $2.7 billion

7. Pennsylvania — $2.6 billion

8. Ohio — $2.5 billion

9. Tennessee — $2.3 billion

10. North Carolina — $2 billion

Source: “Cost of Congestion to the Trucking Industry, the American Trucking Associations.”

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(c)2017 the Chattanooga Times/Free Press (Chattanooga, Tenn.)

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Atlanta Braves catcher continues to be inspired by 3-year-old Trucker [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

May 22–Atlanta Braves catcher Kurt Suzuki’s involvement in a social-media campaign on behalf of a 3-year-old child with Stage IV Neuroblastoma inspired a slew of professional athletes to also step up.

Trucker Dukes lived on the Hawaiian island of Maui, where Suzuki was born and grew up and his parents still live. Through family connections, Suzuki and his wife Renee learned about the adorable 3-year-old and decided to aid the family in their plight, hoping to raise awareness about pediatric cancer. Sadly, Trucker died in March.

Since then, the Dukes have embarked on a tour of appreciation, visiting people across the country who supported them during their fight and journey. The family is also performing random acts of kindness along the way in Trucker’s name.

Last week, the Dukes stopped in Atlanta and attended a Braves game. As it turned out, it was a game when Suzuki came through with a clutch two-run homer in the eighth inning, helping lift the team for a stirring 7-4 win over the Nationals. The Dukes family stayed with the Suzuki family.

“Our friendship grew and so did our desire to raise awareness for pediatric cancer,” said Renee Suzuki in an e-mail before Friday’s game. “Kurt and I have three small children of our own. For this reason, we have become extremely passionate about bringing awareness and helping families while they embark on the most difficult time of their lives.”

In February, Kurt Suzuki wrote a touching piece in the The Player’s Tribune entitled “For Trucker.”

Dear Trucker,

First off, I heard about what happened a couple of weeks ago at your brother Jedidiah’s birthday party. I heard about how you and a family member were sitting inside your house while your brothers and sister were outside with the other kids, playing. I can’t imagine what that must have been like for you — a three-year-old kid, stuck inside the house because the tumors in his leg had impaired his ability to walk.

And you could actually hear the other kids — the ones who weren’t confined indoors by cancer — outside playing and having fun.

Then, when the pressure in your swollen leg got to be too much, as it often does, you screamed in pain. Everybody outside heard you, and your dad came running in and said, “What’s up, buddy? What do you need?”

And instead of crying about the pain, you made a simple request.

“I want to go outside.”

You hadn’t been outside in two weeks, and you decided that that was long enough. You weren’t going to let cancer keep you from being a kid. At least not on that day, your brother’s eighth birthday.

So your dad took you outside.

… You’ve been through so much — brain surgery, chemo, radiation — but your cancer doesn’t define you. You’re still a three-year-old, and your instincts are to go outside and just play and be a normal kid.

That’s a kind of strength that I can’t even imagine.

Maybe you wanted to shoot the hose to pretend you were a firefighter, like your dad. Maybe you wanted to pretend you were coming to somebody’s rescue. Maybe you wanted to pretend you were a hero.

Well let me tell you, Trucker. You don’t have to pretend.

Because you are a hero.

The Suzukis wanted to raise awareness of low funding for pediatric cancer — it is estimated only 4 percent of federal funding goes toward pediatric cancer. Renee said the main beneficiary of the Kurt Suzuki Family Foundation is the Kapiolani Medical center, pediatric division.

With the help several major league baseball players, the couple created a video that includes more than 75 Major League Players giving a “Shaka” to Trucker to show love and support. There is also a Team Trucker page on Facebook.

“The battle he fought, and the how he fought it and his personality just shines through,” said Kurt Suzuki. “He was always positive for the most part unless he was undergoing through treatment that made him feel crummy.”

Trucker’s mother, Shauna Dukes, said her family embarked on a #TruckerRidesWithUs tour that started in San Francisco on April 1 to spend time together as a family and to give back to strangers in Trucker’s honor — paying for their coffee, gas, groceries, a bill at a restaurant — in hopes it will inspire others to pay it forward.

“Our older children gave a lot over the last two and half years of Trucker being in treatment, and we wanted to bless and pour into them and their hearts,” she said about the trip.

“Our message to people simply is don’t take life for granted!” Shauna Dukes said in an e-mail. “None of us are promised tomorrow so let’s live like that. Let’s love one another better and be a blessing wherever you are! Let’s make our lives count for something bigger than just ourselves, even when circumstances are really hard!”

The Dukes have a daughter, Indiana, who is 11; and two sons, Mac, who is 9; and Jedi who is 8. Trucker was the youngest with his mother adding he “will forever be 3.”

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(c)2017 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.)

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BRIEF: Police investigate break-in at Columbus trucking company on 10th Avenue [Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, Ga.]

May 22–Columbus police are trying to identify any possible suspects involved in the burglary that occurred Sunday at the Waggoners Trucking company at 800 10th Ave.

Authorities said the business was broken into between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.

An officer was called to the scene on Sunday, but no arrests have been made in the case. No suspect descriptions were given in the police report.

Sarah Robinson: 706-571-8622, @sarahR_92

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