Public safety was again at the top of the lists of most communities around Klickitat County when the county's Economic Development Authority (EDA) met last week to finalize recommendations for the annual community development grants.
On Feb. 18, the 14-member EDA board met in Goldendale to go over the proposed project list and finalize the priorities proposed by the various communities.
The county has set aside a specified amount of money each year -- over the years ranging from $250,000 to as much as $500,000 -- to go to fund projects the respective communities decide are most important in a given year. Funds to pay for the public safety and community development projects are generated from the revenue the county takes in for hosting the regional landfill at Roosevelt.
This year, $350,000 was available to help 17 separate communities. That works out to be an average of roughly $20,500 per community.
The County Commissioners are expected to vote to give final approval to the project list by the end of the week.
"Safety is always a top property," said County Commissioner David Sauter. "There is a lot of fire district safety equipment, and some economic development money."
White Salmon was among the communities asking for help to pay for firefighting equipment.
In November of last year, White Salmon Fire Chief Bill Hunsaker asked the White Salmon City Council to request $26,058 of EDA funds to pay for 10 breathing masks and eight sets of turnouts -- heavily-insulated protective gear -- for the city's volunteer firefighters. The council members voted unanimously to do so.
Also last November, the Bingen City Council voted 5-0 to request $20,000 to help cover the costs of building a new skate park in Daubenspeck Park. The city is providing an additional $40,000 for the skate park, work on which is expected to get under way this spring.
The requests from both Bingen and White Salmon were fully funded by the EDA board.
Other projects winning funding included:
$19,600 for Appleton to pay for an addition to the community's fire hall;
$22,627 for Dallesport to pay for firefighting equipment and to finish fencing around the school;
$23,700 to Glenwood to replace the dance hall roof at the rodeo grounds, improve street lighting in central Glenwood, and to purchase fitness equipment for the school/community fitness room;
$21,061 for Husum/BZ Corner to pay for a heater, light fixtures, and to replace carpet at the fire station in Husum;
$20,620 for Klickitat to help pay for a concrete floor throughout the new fire hall, building a 14 foot by 48 foot meeting room, adding plumbing to the building, and installing an exhaust fan;
$21,500 for Lyle to purchase new emergency communications equipment, purchase landscape materials and supplies, and replace windows, lightning, and emergency exit signs at the old Lyle Elementary School on State Route 14 (now housing the Lyle Community Activity Center and Lyle Museum);
$4,547 for Snowden to purchase and install bleachers at the Posse Grounds;
$30,000 to Trout Lake to fund a study of improving irrigation systems for the Trout Lake area; and
$20,000 to Wishram to enable the purchase of new "Jaws of Life" emergency equipment.
In another safety related project, the EDA awarded $20,000 to the High Prairie community for construction of a parking lot at the fire station.
"The area around the fire hall is impassable during wet weather, and the parking lot project was the community's top priority," said Mike Canon, director of the Klickitat County Economic Development Department.
Sauter pointed out that all three County Commissioners serve on the EDA board -- and the recommendations were approved unanimously -- so the vote to approve the funding is essentially a formality.
"The money will be available the first week of March," Sauter said.