The Seamen's Church Institute welcomed the inland river transportation industry for the 22nd Annual River Bell Awards Luncheon in Paducah, Ky., recently. This year's sold-out event featured Jim Guidry, executive vice president of Kirby Marine Transportation Group, receiving the River Bell Award, and Frank Morton, founder and director of Turn Services, taking home the River Legend Award.

"This year, we are honored to spotlight these two individuals," The Reverend Mark Nestlehutt, SCI's president and executive director, said in a statement announcing the awards. "both are well-respected leaders with a long history of dedication to the industry and who share SCI's commitment to mariner wellbeing."

SCI also honored the crews of the M/V Miss Niz (Marquette Transportation Co. Capt. James Bordelon, Pilot Benton Eubanks,  deckhand Wendell Neal, and deckhand Chris Verdin) and the M/V Michael J. Grainger (Ingram Barge Co., Capt. Joe Younge, Sr. mate Mike White Sr. deckhand Jason Lovell) with the Lifesaving Award.

In April 2022, Miss Niz's crew pulled survivors of a burning fishing vessel to safety, and in September 2022, Michael Grainger's crew rescued a driver from a car that had driven through a flood wall opening and landed in the river.

"SCI's commitment to this segment of the maritime industry has only deepened over time," said Nestlehutt. "Since the mid-1990s, through our training facilities in Paducah and Houston and our chaplaincy, we have forged meaningful partnerships and relationships with company leadership and the mariners we serve. The River Bell Awards Luncheon is our opportunity to recognize and celebrate the people whose devotion to this vital industry has made a significant impact."

Founded in 1834, the Seamen's Church Institute is the largest and most comprehensive mariners' service agency in North America. The Seamen's Church Institute, through their Center for Maritime Education, Center for Mariner Advocacy, Port Newark International Seafarers' Center, and Ministry on the River, promotes safety, dignity, and improved working and living conditions for the men and women serving in the maritime workplace.