This year’s message is unsurprisingly mixed. COVID-19 impacts dominated 2020, and I expect 2021 will be characterized by recovery. I am especially proud of how our Port staff responded and adapted to circumstances that were unforeseen and unknowable.
Staff worked with public health agencies at the County and State levels to initially respond to the immediate needs of our community. One simple example is the Port’s pre-purchase of toilet paper for the entire 2020 summer season. The Port donated much of its stock to the local food bank at a time when toilet paper was in extremely short supply. It was particularly difficult to figure out how to handle operations at the toll booth while keeping staff safe from exposure to the virus. Official Zoom meetings were quickly implemented.
It was the Port’s talented staff who made modifications while doing their jobs to keep the waterfront semi-open as well as sustain the less obvious things the Port does. Two large projects were completed at the Ken Jernstedt Airfield in 2020: the FAA-funded North Apron Rehabilitation project and the ODOT-funded Aviation Technology and Emergency Response Center infrastructure project. An important step in bridge replacement was accomplished with the formation of a Bi-State Working Group consisting of the cities of Hood River, Bingen and White Salmon, Hood River and Klickitat counties, plus the Port. We were successful, in a joint application with Klickitat County, in obtaining a $5 million federal grant to advance bridge replacement. The Lower Hanel Mill project is completed, transformed from an industrial clean-up site to shovel-ready light industrial land for sale.
I anticipate this year we will be getting back to normal. Though Zoom won’t be going away, I hope a lot of things will be coming back.
Port Commission President