The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Michele Smith
The Times 

Fundraising pays off for Touchet Valley Golf Course


January 13, 2022

Michele Smith

During the fall of 2021, the Columbia County Public Works Department began constructing a new irrigation reservoir between holes No. 2 and 3, near the tee blocks on hole No. 3 at the Touchet Valley Golf Course. Using excavated material to backfill the Touchet River levee along hole No. 2, they created a gentle slope to the top of the levee and constructed a new tee block on hole No. 3.

DAYTON-In 2019, Touchet Valley Golf and Recreation (TVGR), formerly known as the Dayton Country Club, created an aggressive five-year strategic plan for the golf course. The plan includes partnering with multiple organizations to fund and construct an underground irrigation system and potentially expand the existing golf course.

The Underground Sprinkler System Installation project consists of planning and fundraising, irrigation reservoir construction, and underground sprinkler system installation. A multiple property owner issue has been a stumbling block for the project in the past.

TVGR owns half the golf course, and the County owns the other half. So, different sources of money were pursued.

Golf course architect John Steidel was hired in 2019 to recommend modifications to improve the quality and efficiency of the golf course, including reduction of water use and maintenance costs. Steidel recommended the installation of an irrigation reservoir to help mitigate an intermittent water supply issue from the West End Irrigation District. Local water experts agreed with his advice, and Steidel identified a location and a plan for its design.

In 2020, a fiscal sponsorship agreement between TVGR and the Blue Mountain Community Foundation (BMCF) allowed for tax-deductible donations of $50,000 for the $113,000 reservoir project. $48,000 of that has been spent so far, according to TVGR board Treasurer Sean Thurston.

Thurston estimates another $50,000 is needed to finish the reservoir's construction and begin the installation of the underground sprinkler system on the section of the course owned by TVGR. Installation of the sprinkler system will use voluntary labor.

The material cost estimate from Dunning Irrigation Supply is $103,000. TVGR has budgeted $115,000 and has allocated $30,000. Although material costs and availability are changing, he said TVGR is prepared to adapt as necessary.

This summer, the plan is to apply for a grant from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) to cover the cost on the County-owned part of the course, Thurston said. That portion will be more expensive because it will be a prevailing wage project. The board hopes to get a cost estimate this spring.

"By showing community support for the initial phases of the project, TVGR hopes their grant application will be more competitive," Thurston said. 

The following is a breakdown of fundraising activity in 2021:

Warren Community Foundation Grant - $7,500

Dayton/Columbia County Fund - $5,000

Pacific Power Foundation - $2,500

TVGR Fundraiser Golf Tournament - $18,000

Valley Giving Guide charitable donations - $75,000 (approximate, not finalized)

Thurston said the Columbia County Conservation District has committed $44,000 to be used strictly for the Underground Sprinkler System Installation project in the first phase.

Thurston would like to thank all the parties who have made the project possible. Fundraising efforts will continue. Tax-deductible donations can be sent to the Blue Mountain Community Foundation, PO Box 603, Walla Walla WA 99362. Checks should be made out to the BMCF with "Touchet Valley Golf Course Irrigation Project" in the memo field.


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