A total of $352,435 in funds from Klickitat County's regional landfill revenue have been authorized for communities around the county.
Meeting on Feb. 13 in Goldendale, the Economic Development Association Board identified its priorities for 2002 funding.
Local communities generally fared well in this year's process. White Salmon will receive $26,809 for a downtown revitalization proposal that includes new landscaping along the boulevard from Main Street to Wauna. An irrigation system for the landscaped area is included in the plan.
Work on the project may get started as early as April.
White Salmon Mayor Roger Holen, an EDA Board member, said he was pleased the city gained funding for the landscaping project.
"I like using county money for the downtown, because it's a high visibility project and it shows we're sharing in the county's largess with the landfill money," Holen said.
Holen added that he thought the EDA process went well this year.
"My understanding is, everybody got their first request, minimally," Holen explained. "That's the EDA philosophy. We didn't want to second-guess community needs. If that's what the community sees as their need, that's what the community needs."
Holen noted that the Georgeville community, which asked for help paying for playground and park improvements, received no funding.
"A lot of people were disappointed Georgeville could not be funded, but legally it was not possible. It's Yakama land," Holen said.
In Bingen, a city request for $25,000 to pay for playground equipment in Daubenspeck Park was fully funded.
Bingen Mayor Brian Prigel said he hoped the playground equipment can be set up before summer.
"We'll be looking for donations and volunteers to set it up," Prigel said. "I think the project will take a bit more than the $25,000 we requested, but it will get us most of the way."
Other nearby communities gained project approval as well, including:
In Lyle, $30,000 was earmarked for upgrading of the fire station;
Klickitat was awarded $30,000 for a community/youth center, and another $1,750 to fund activities for the community's young people;
Trout Lake: $25,600 for fire equipment;
Husum/BZ Corner: $20,000 for a new fire truck;
Dallesport: $16,050 for a new fire truck and $18,859 for playground equipment.
"I think the EDA Board was happy with the results," said Tom Seifert, business retention and development specialist with Klickitat County.
One newcomer to the EDA process, the Lower Burdoin Mountain community, won full funding -- $10,000 -- for a proposed satellite fire station on Burdoin Mountain.
Conversely, one community that did not fare as well in the EDA Board's recommended distribution of funds was Snowden, which had its $18,000 request to boost the fire department cut to $4,300. That money was earmarked to pay for a defibrillator and a washer for the department's fire hoses. However, paving the Cherry Lane Fire Station's turnaround and parking area was nixed.
As a result, Snowden came out with the least amount of funding of any of the 17 communities.
Chris Connolly, president of the Snowden Community Council, was unhappy with the county's decisions regarding Snowden.
"It is a political slap in the face from the county," Connolly said, adding she was shocked that the newly-created Lower Burdoin Mountain Community Council received full funding for its proposal, while Snowden's proposal was slashed by more than three-quarters.
"The county is suddenly recognizing the Burdoin Community Council, which has never had announced public meetings or elections," she said. "They are just sending us a message: We shouldn't run counter to the county's decisions."
Connolly was referring to the Snowden Community Council's recent vote to appeal a zoning proposal approved by the county.
"If they give them (Lower Burdoin Community Council) community status, but we can't get community status, they are not applying the rules fairly -- which is nothing new," Connolly said, noting that the Snowden Community Council was formed in 1977.
Seifert defended the award process.
"Snowden's request for paving was cut out. Is asphalt public safety? Given the limited dollars, asphalt was not a public safety issue. It was an extra. It would be a nice thing to have, but we funded the fire equipment," Seifert said.
Seifert pointed out that funding for the proposed Burdoin Mountain fire station is contingent on the project getting approval from the Lyle Fire District, as well as the U.S. Forest Service.
"Fire District No. 4 is legally responsible, and they have to agree to it. Also, we must receive a letter from the U.S. Forest Service that permits the building. That must be in place by June 30," Seifert explained.
Supporters of the rural fire station plan were pleased.
"I am elated," said Fred Heany, one of the proponents. "But it really puts a lot of pressure on us. The Forest Service needs to act swiftly to assure us we can move ahead on the project. I'm hopeful there are rapid procedures possible and we can move on this quickly to take advantage of the opportunity we have with funding."