PORT HURON, Mich. (AP) -- Despite being rebuffed by the Michigan Legislature when the city asked to be designated as the "Maritime Capital of the Great Lakes," local officials are moving forward to protect the phrase.
"We're waiting to hear back from the Patent and Trademark Office in Washington," City Attorney John Livesay said. "We don't expect to hear from them until September."
City Council members recently adopted a budget amendment to allocate as much as $10,000 to develop a Web site calling attention to the new motto. Councilman Cliff Schrader said the Web site would serve as a "tremendous marketing tool."
But is there merit to the hype?
Ray Skelton serves as the Duluth, Minn., Seaway Port Authority's environmental and government affairs director, as well as its foreign trade zone manager. He thinks of Port Huron's new catch-phrase as "a joke."
"It's all bogus," said Skelton, a native of Bay City, Mich. "What is the total tonnage handled by Port Huron? We're the world's largest seasonal port, handling about 40 million metric tons (a year)."
Commercial traffic to Port Huron dwindled to nothing in the late 1990s. The city's Seaway Terminal -- once a port for agricultural and other shipping -- is now in private hands and caters to tourist vessels and tall ships.
While Skelton seems to make the case for Duluth, other maritime officials from that city point out the matter is not the subject of a contest.
"This is not some deep set argument," said Thom Holden, director of the Lake Superior Maritime Visitors Center in Duluth. "I have nothing against Port Huron. I just think there are other ports that are larger, busier and have a far greater economic impact than Port Huron."
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