The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Michele Smith
the Times 

Port commission report for May


Sean Milligan of Huntsville was sworn in by Port of Columbia Executive Director Jennie Dickinson on Monday, May 17. Milligan was appointed to fill the remainder of Fred Crowe's term on the Port Commission in Dist. No. 3. Milligan, a third-generation civil engineer, works for the Walla Walla District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He lives in Huntsville with his wife Tammy.

DAYTON-At the May 13 Port Commission meeting, Executive Director Dickinson expressed a desire for people to follow all the social distancing guidelines set forth by in the Governor's Phased Approach to Reopening Business and Modifying Social Distancing Guidelines, so the county can move from Phase II into Phase III more quickly.

"For the most part it is going fine, she said. "I'm proud of our businesses and our community."

Dickinson said the Lyons Ferry Marina Concessionaires are making great strides in promoting social distancing guidelines. Wally and Joanne Knouff have been visited by the Department of Fish and Wildlife and commended for their efforts following and promoting social distancing guidelines.

Dickinson said the boat launch and store at the Lyons Ferry Marina are open. Trailer camping is allowed in alternating sites. Tent camping is not yet allowed.

"We are very lucky to have those concessionaires," Dickinson told the commissioners.

"The efforts people have made to shop locally are also making a difference.

"People who have lived here for years, that have never been to the Blue Mountain Station Co-op or Dingles' are going in there," she said.

She said businesses are managing to hang on during the COVID-19 challenge.

VS on Main Street is the only business she has heard that is closing, although the building owner is interested in helping vendors continue to operate in some fashion. The store will be open on Fridays and Saturdays for the time being.

Restaurants are opening and their owners are dealing with guidelines set forth in the Phase II plan. One of these guidelines concerns a contact tracing capability. Guests eating inside the restaurants will be asked to volunteer contact information so public health officials can contact them if the need arises.

Columbia County First is the mantra for business owners in Phase II. This means established clientele, only, will be serviced in establishments like hair salons.

"We want to do this right, so we can stay open," she said.

Dickinson is writing grants to help businesses respond to the COVID-19 challenge.

She said she has not heard back yet about a small business emergency grant she applied for through the state of Washington. If awarded, the Port will administer the grant and hand out checks to over 20 local businesses.

In addition, a $6,025 Community Development Block Grant, which is normally for low income communities, is available to the Port in response to the COVID-19 situation.

Dickinson is considering writing a grant to a local organization for additional funds.

She also plans to apply to a state grant program to help businesses who might need help with rent.

In other Port news, the Columbia Walla Walla rail operator has received a grant from the state Utilities and Transportation Commission for signage and signal changes going from Dayton to Wallula. Dickinson said the CWW railroad has been transporting seed for Seneca Foods, Inc.

There are no plans at this time to hire a new Economic Development Coordinator for the Port. Jennifer DeLannoy resigned from that position to spend time with her children after the Dayton schools closed in March.

The Dayton to Waitsburg Bike Trail Concept Plan will be ready for review, before the June Port Commission meeting.


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