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Guest Commentary

Oh well!

By BEV ELSNER

Husum

What is with some people in the White Salmon area? The following is from Wikipedia. Underlining is mine.

"1949: The Oregon Legislature enacted a law permitting the acquisition or construction of interstate toll bridges by certain municipalities, including ports, which was upheld by the Oregon Supreme Court in June of 1950."

"1950: The Port of Hood River acquired the Bridge under that act on December 12, 1950, at 12:00 noon, from the Oregon-Washington Bridge Company for the purchase price of $800,000. Each state, port, city and county were asked to purchase the bridge and maintain it; all declined but the Port of Hood River."

White Salmon had an opportunity to buy into the bridge but declined. Anyone who crosses that bridge on a regular basis knows what a cash cow it is to the Port of Hood River. Oh well.

Then along comes the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Act in 1986 (love it or hate it) with a commitment of $5 million for a conference center. The following, with some editing, is from the Scenic Act web page:

"Economic Development --In 1986, Congress created one of the most innovative partnership approaches to conservation in the nation -- the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Through the National Scenic Area Act, specific projects and authorized federal funds become central to an incentives-based program for protecting the Gorge."

"The Act envisions that six Gorge counties adopt land-use ordinances implementing the Scenic Area Management Plan in return for federal assistance with key efforts:

An interpretive center -- The Gorge Discovery Center ($5 million)

A conference center -- Skamania Lodge ($5 million)

Restoration of the Historic Columbia River Highway ($2.8 million)

Recreation facilities ($10 million)

Economic Development Grants ($10 million)

None of these are typical federally funded projects. Nor is the Scenic Area a typical federally administered area. Each is a partnership effort with significant cost-sharing among private, local, state, and federal partners."

"With the fulfillment of a $5 million federal investment, the Skamania Lodge Conference Center, in Skamania County has been completed with $20 million in other public and private investments."

Anyone remember the proposed Bingen Point? I remember there was massive opposition so Skamania County got Skamania Lodge, the jobs and the constant infusion of tourism money. Skamania Lodge was built in 1993 and has surpassed all expectations for it. Oh well.

Now to the present. We have Insitu, or some parts of it. I recently learned that Insitu has vacated the Park Center. Do the White Salmon water woes have anything to do with that? Did all the employees in that facility get tired of walking back and forth through the vacant lot that passes for a city park? Did the discussion about how much, or how little, police protection is needed contribute to any part of that decision to vacate?

I know, for a fact, that in the 90s when Insitu's four employees were testing their airplanes on a strip in Husum that there were officials from Taiwan, Australia, the U.S. Navy and who knows where else. I'd bet that those kinds of visits are continuing and I'd also bet that some of these visitors have voiced among themselves, if not to Insitu execs, that they don't understand why the company is willing to put up with such provincial and short sighted people.

We can stick our heads in the sand and hope that everything goes back to some idyllic time, whatever that is, but what's going to happen is that we won't know until too late what's about to bite us in the butt. Oh well.

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