By JESSE BURKHARDT
This time around, there was no agonizing over the decision process.
The annual debates over which projects to prioritize for grants from the Klickitat County Economic Development Authority (EDA) turned out to be no debates at all in both Bingen and White Salmon.
Every year, the EDA provides grants to communities around the county to help pay for projects community leaders decide are most vital.
The funds come from revenue the county receives for hosting the regional landfill at Roosevelt, in eastern Klickitat County.
For 2010, the county has set aside $350,000 in landfill funds to be distributed among 16 communities. Doing the math, that pencils out to be roughly $22,000 per community.
On Nov. 17, the Bingen City Council made short work of its decision about where to earmark its potential share of EDA funds for 2010. The council wants any grant money it gets from EDA to go toward covering the costs of the planned skate park for Daubenspeck Park.
Usually there are three or four possibilities for council members to choose from. But Bingen City Administrator Jan Brending noted that the priority for 2010 was already clear.
"The list I have for you is the skate park," Brending said.
Council member Laura Mann asked if anyone had an idea for another possible item for EDA funding, but no one spoke up.
Bingen's council members then voted 5-0 to ask the EDA for $20,000 to help pay for the skate park.
Mayor Brian Prigel pointed out that the city has about $40,000 already set aside for the planned skate park, but more is needed to complete the long-promised project.
Bingen has hired Grindline Skateparks, Inc., of Seattle to design the facility. Construction is expected to start in spring 2010.
In White Salmon, the decision process was similarly swift.
In the City Council's Nov. 18 session, Fire Chief Bill Hunsaker requested approximately $26,000 for emergency equipment for the city's firefighters.
"That covers money that was eliminated from the city's 2010 budget," Hunsaker explained. "This is necessary equipment. It includes breathing masks to outfit everybody, and turnouts."
Turnouts are the protective clothing worn by firefighters while engaged in emergencies. The turnouts are heavily insulated to keep the extreme temperatures of a fire away from a firefighter's body.
Before the council made its decision, White Salmon Mayor David Poucher asked Police Chief Bruce Brending if he had any alternative ideas.
Brending noted that law enforcement agencies around the county have been trying to demonstrate to the county that there is a serious need to fix what he called an "antiquated, less than reliable communications system." However, Brending explained that for 2010, he was backing the safety improvements for White Salmon firefighters.
"I fully support Bill's request for equipment for the Fire Department," Brending responded.
No other proposals were offered, and the council members voted unanimously -- 4-0 -- to request an EDA grant of $26,058 to pay for the firefighting equipment.
According to Hunsaker, the money will cover the costs of purchasing 10 new breathing masks, as well as eight sets of turnouts.
Hunsaker said he was gratified with the vote.
"I want to thank all of you for the support of the Fire Department," Hunsaker told the council members.
After the meeting, Hunsaker said he appreciated that the council has almost always been supportive of his department's requests for new supplies and equipment.
"They like to support the Fire Department as well as they can and would give us more if they could, but there is a budget crunch right now," Hunsaker explained.
Members of the county's EDA board will review the requests and issue their decisions early in 2010. The Klickitat County Board of Commissioners have the final say in whether the specific grants are provided, but generally the commissioners accept the recommendations of the EDA board.
The grant funds are usually made available to the respective communities in the spring of each year.