Budget could be boon for the Harbor —

Budget could be boon for the Harbor

By Steven Friederich; March 20, 2007 © The Aberdeen Daily World

OLYMPIA — The House’s $4.2 billion capital budget includes a new training center for the Satsop Development Park, money for the Polson Museum, the 7th St. Theatre, Grays Harbor College and the Pacific County Historical Society.

Meantime, the House’s $7.4 billion transportation budget includes about $1.5 million for a rail spur for the biodiesel refinery being built in Hoquiam, according to Majority Leader Lynn Kessler of Hoquiam.

The capital budget also re-allocates $6 million to the Grays Harbor PUD so it can finish installing a new “biomass” turbine at Grays Harbor Paper LP in Hoquiam. The 7.5-megawatt turbine is likely to save the paper company thousands of dollars in energy costs and is due to be completely installed by the end of the year. That money had been allocated last year but all of it hasn’t been spent, Kessler said.

In addition to the rail spur, Imperium benefits from a $2.5 million low-interest loan in the capital budget for the Port of Grays Harbor to help design and construct a pre-treatment system that will encourage greater use of Washington feedstock, such as canola, according to Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim.

The House’s capital budget is a wish list since the Senate will come up with its own version, likely next week. The two proposals then will be hashed out to see what goes and what stays. The final compromise plan is expected to be approved by month’s end.

Coming as a surprise to Grays Harbor College President Ed Brewster was a proposed $5.053 million grant to the Satsop Development Park to help establish a training center at the former WPPSS nuclear site.

Van De Wege told Brewster about the Job Development Fund grant at a town hall meeting Monday night. The governor’s budget didn’t include any funds for the center, which makes the House’s step forward that much more important, Brewster noted.

The money would pay for improvements to the Satsop Center’s 43,000-square-foot, two-level office building originally constructed for SafeHarbor Technology in 2001. The building has sat relatively unused since.

The goal is to create a job training center using instructors at Grays Harbor College and Centralia Community College. Last year, a couple dozen Weyerhaeuser Co. workers received some power plant training at Satsop. With its turbine equipment and other power-generating technology, the site is the perfect fit for such a training program, according to Brewster and Satsop CEO Tami Garrow. Money will be used to upgrade that turbine equipment.

Brewster had figured it would take $15 million or so to get the center up and going, but the GHC president says he’s elated to get whatever money he can. Local economic development leaders are also lobbying U.S. Sen. Patty Murray for funding.

Other projects in the House plan:

* $171,000 for the Polson Museum in Hoquiam to help it construct new buildings to house a historic “railroad camp” exhibit.

* $600,000 for restoration and repair work at Hoquiam’s historic 7th Street Theatre. That money comes from the Department of Community, Trade & Economic Development.

* $186,000 for the Pacific County Historical Society, stemming from a Washington Heritage Grant.

* Grants provided by the Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation include $116,790 for a nature trail at South Bend, $250,000 for Willapa Bay restoration, $627,299 for the Chehalis River Surge Plain Natural Area Preserve and two grants helping the Elk River Natural Resources Conservation Area — one for $896,070 and a second for $299,700.

Meantime, the Union Gospel Mission could get $562,000 to help with its $3.7 million project to construct a new multi-use center in Aberdeen, though the mission will need to raise $84,000 in matching local donations to get the grant.

Grays Harbor College could receive $1 million for a new child-care facility at the Aberdeen campus, plus $276,000 to help design a new math and science building.

Another $82,246 has also been allocated for roof repairs to the college buildings.

The budget also includes $498,000 for the college’s Riverview Education Center in Pacific County. The grant would go toward repairs and upgrades, Brewster said.

Stafford Creek also had $1 million in unspent revenue to “correct security deficiencies” that needed to be re-allocated.

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