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By Jana Mathia
Whitman County Gazette 

Pioneer Ports meeting shares some good news

 

October 22, 2020



The Port of Whitman County met virtually with commissioners and staff from the Port of Clarkston and the Port of Lewiston with each sharing some positive news in a regular Pioneer Ports meeting Monday night.

“It was an amazing harvest this year,” David Doeringfield, Port of Lewiston commissioner, said in his report. Doeringfield stated the yield had been so high, any flat ground in the Lewis-Clark Valley was used to store grain before it was shipped downstream.

Speaking of shipping, Doeringfield reported the Corps of Army Engineers is looking to better define where navigation channels are in an attempt to reduce future dredging and costs.

Both valley ports commented on being a part of the shipping of wind turbine blades and tower components to Canada. The blades and parts are being shipped up the river to the ports and loaded onto trucks to travel the rest of the way to the wind farm.

Water travel and its impact on the valley ports was also brought up in the report from the Port of Clarkston which expressed excitement about the roll-out of the cruise boat industry economic impact study. The cruise boat industry brings about $4 million to the area in a given year.

All ports reported on the progress being made with broadband; buying fiber in advance and seeking grants for the valley ports. Port of Whitman Commissioner Kristine Meyer reported on the fiber to home project expanding into five communities and the efforts to seek relief from fiber projects being double taxed.

She said the rail trestle that was burned north of Palouse at the end of August was repaired using a culvert to get the rail line back in service.

Port of Whitman commissioners brought up the possibility of a Brownfield clean-up at the old steam plant at Washington State University. Commissioner Tom Kammerzell stated it was brought up because WSU can not access Brownfield funds; the port would not be tearing it down.

“It’s just conversation at this point,” Meyer said.

Commissioners also mentioned the port’s other activities over the past few months: selling all but nine acres of the Pullman Industrial Park-West property to a housing developer as housing is what is being built around the light industrial zoned property; progress on re-doing the docks at Boyer Park and Marina; work at the Colfax Airport to address drainage issues, and preliminary design of reconstruction of the road at the Port of Wilma.

While events planned for Boyer Park were canceled, Kammerzell said the park “had a wonderful summer,” despite road work being done adjacent to it. The park had almost maximum capacity the whole summer, he recalled from a report given earlier. With camping one of the governor’s allowed socially-distanced activities and new amenities such as bike and kayak rental for the summer, Boyer had a good season and will remain open through the winter.

The meeting ended with valley commissioners inquiring about the welfare of John Love who retired from the port this summer after more than 20 years. Feelings of regret were expressed by other port commissioners; they were not able to attend his last meeting or a retirement event due to pandemic restrictions.

Author Bio

Jana Mathia, Reporter

Jana Mathia is a reporter at the Whitman County Gazette.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 509-397-4333
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