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WS still working on 2004 priority list

Number of must haves drops from 15 to 4

The White Salmon City Council narrowed its tentative "wish list" of projects for possible funding by the Klickitat County Economic Development Authority from 15 to four at a Dec. 2 work session. But council members tabled action to look at additional proposals before making a final decision.

A special council session was scheduled for Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. to finalize priorities.

The county is setting aside $250,000 from its landfill fund to help pay for various community projects in 2004, and Mayor Roger Holen figured the most White Salmon could expect from the fund would be roughly $35,000.

"I would guess $35,000, absolutely tops, for the city. More likely $20,000," Holen said.

With the city allowed to request funding for no more than two projects, four priorities were identified as finalists: enhancement of the Community Youth Center programs, estimated cost: $25,000; Community Family Services Network grant, estimated cost: not determined; new police patrol vehicle, estimated cost: $23,000; sprinkler system for city fire station, estimated cost: $80,000.

The action to delay the decision came after several other ideas were presented at the Dec. 3 council meeting.

Council member Tim Stone, a proponent of the Family Services Network, explained that the network concentrated efforts to reduce domestic violence, teen pregnancy, and drug and alcohol abuse in the community. However, he said a plan for how to use grant money was "still in the formative stages."

"I would like to withdraw this proposal with the stipulation it will be strongly considered next year," Stone explained.

Despite calls for construction of an animal shelter in the area, a proposal to build a shelter -- with an estimated cost of $105,000 -- did not make the final list.

Money for animal control was listed as the city's second priority last year, but it received no funding from the county.

Before the council began discussing its priorities, Lance Stryker, president of the White Salmon Fire Department, informed the members that the department has a critical need for a new pumper truck.

"The Fire Department is lacking basic firefighting equipment," Stryker said. "Our tanker truck is a 1958 International that we purchased as surplus in 1976. The tank is so old, rust falls off on the inside and clogs valves. It's hardly drivable, and believe me, it's not user friendly."

Stryker pointed out that the tanker has a 750-gallon capacity, which is deficient in serious fires. Modern tanker trucks carry 1,000 gallons of water.

Stryker said the truck would cost approximately $125,000.

"There should be adequate resources from the landfill fund for this," Stryker said. "Go back to the County Commissioners and have them look at this. We're asking the council to consider what we need for adequate firefighting equipment with funds from the EDA."

Linda Schneider, executive director of the Klickitat-Skamania Development Council, came to the meeting to request financial support from the city for the Community Youth Center.

"We've tried to find permanent solutions to keep the Youth Center open five days a week year round," she said.

Several youngsters who use the Youth Center told the council the facility was important to them, and Youth Center volunteer Norm Luther agreed.

"With a city grant, it could stay open five days a week in the summer too," Luther explained.

Holen said the Bingen-White Salmon Police Department was requesting funds for a new patrol car.

"It's clear that in order to have good rotation, a patrol vehicle should be purchased in 2004, so the vehicle is serviceable and safe," Holen said. "But I'm concerned that if the city starts subsidizing various department budgets with EDA grants, we're fooling ourselves. This is special windfall money that should be used for community enhancements, even frivolous things. That's my opinion."

Shirley Cox, who served on the citizen committee that created White Salmon's Community Action Plan, said she believed the priorities set out by the committee were being ignored.

"The Community Action Plan is what the citizens want done with that money, and there has been no mention of it over the last few years," Cox said.

However, Mayor Holen said the list had not been ignored.

"I don't think we've gone against the plan," said Holen. "Cox is right, the City Council did not sit with the plan in front of them, but considering Mamie Gaddis Park and support for the Youth Center, that was consistent with the plan."

Because of the request for a new fire truck and to allow more time to review the Community Action Plan, council member Stone asked for a delay in considering the priorities.

The council's vote to table the decision was 4-1.

The deadline for communities to submit their requests for EDA funding is Dec. 22.


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