Once again, communities all across Klickitat County have come up with some intriguing and important requests for projects to enhance their communities.
Every year, the Klickitat County Economic Development Authority (EDA) sets aside at least $350,000 of the income the county gets from the regional landfill at Roosevelt. That money is distributed based on suggestions from community leaders about what projects they believe would be most beneficial.
This year, after reviewing all of the project requests, the EDA board members recommended that the Klickitat County Commissioners -- who have the final say on the requests -- fund 23 projects spread across 17 communities.
The project proposed by the city of White Salmon turned out to be the single largest amount approved for funding. Late last year, the White Salmon City Council listed swimming pool improvements as its top priority, and the move paid off: The county is expected to OK an expenditure of $27,407 to pay for a variety of pool upgrades.
The grant will go to pay for several key improvements to the pool, including: fresh concrete for the pool deck; sealant; new electrical box for the pool house; materials to build an ADA-accessible entry to the pool house; materials for pool house roof replacement; boiler replacement; an eye wash station for the mechanical room; a salt chlorination system; painting the interior of the pool; and solar roof panels to help with heat generation.
"We received a very, very healthy amount of funding," said White Salmon Mayor David Poucher. "(Klickitat County Commissioner) Rex Johnston really went to bat for us -- and for Trout Lake and Husum and all of the west end. I have to take my hat off to Rex. He fought for us. We had asked for a little bit more than we got, about $34,000, but we came out really well."
Poucher said that by including funds from the pool account set up by local citizens at White Salmon's Riverview Community Bank, there will be enough money to cover needed repairs.
"That account will put us over the top for the maintenance the pool needs," Poucher explained.
"I'm hoping we'll start on repairs in the next two weeks, knowing the money is coming," Poucher said. "We can do the majority of the work with our own city crews."
The city of White Salmon had also asked for about $7,000 for some signs on State Route 14 to help let motorists know where White Salmon is, but that project was not funded.
Bingen's City Council asked for a grant to fund a community planning project, and the EDA agreed to provide $20,000 for that planning process.
"It will be a park master plan, covering the community center, skate park, a covered basketball court, those kinds of things," explained Bingen Mayor Brian Prigel. "We're anxious to get started and do that this summer."
Prigel said the city would hold public meetings to take input from local citizens.
"We're looking forward to it. I hope we get significant public participation," Prigel said.
Prigel added that a planning document can directly lead to major changes. He pointed out that the recent downtown revitalization project -- with new landscaping, lighting, and road improvements -- came shortly after a similar planning process.
"This could potentially have a real big impact. We did a downtown revitalization plan before starting on that," Prigel explained. "We can build on this process, and start construction based on the results of the study."
Many communities asked for equipment for their respective fire districts. Glenwood, Alderdale, Appleton, Centerville, Dallesport, High Prairie, Husum-BZ Corner, Klickitat, Roosevelt, and Snowden all chose to enhance the capabilities of their firefighters or other emergency responders.
Several communities asked for funding for projects that would enhance the local school districts.
In Trout Lake, the county is expected to approve nearly $26,000 to repair the Trout Lake Grange Hall.
The Lyle School District got the same amount to make school facility improvements.
The smallest request came from Glenwood, where the school district will get $2,500 for work on a greenhouse.
Most of the grants were in the $15,000-$25,000 range.
Newly appointed Klickitat County Commissioner Rex Johnston said the process was very positive for the county. He added that he was glad to play a role in assisting the various communities, particularly in the west end.
"I'm real happy with it," Johnston said. "It came out really well for our section of the county. This is one of the fun parts of the job, to give people the money to do the things that need to be done."
The Board of County Commissioners is expected to vote to finalize the grants this week.