Wednesday, May 3, 2006
By RAELYNN RICARTE
News staff writer
April 22, 2006
The Port of Cascade Locks finalized the deal to lease out operations of the Sternwheeler Columbia Gorge this week.
On Wednesday night, American Waterways officially took over management of the paddlewheel replica. Capt. Misty Parker took her usual place behind the wheel of the vessel.
“Last night they did their first cruise and it was successful on all counts,” said Chuck Daughtry, port director, on Thursday morning.
Parker and Capt. Tom Cramblett have both negotiated new jobs with the company that owns the Portland Spirit line.
Daughtry was unsure if Capt. Randy Holmstrom would be returning to the boat. He said all of the former employees were given the opportunity to interview with American. And former port staffer Shelley Lomax had already moved into the position of sales event coordinator.
Daughtry said the port will now be able to climb out of its annual budget hole for sternwheeler expenses. That deficit, which had averaged about $100,000 each year, reached $250,000 in 2005.
In addition to being freed from routine expenses, Daughtry said the port will receive $50,000 each year as a share of American’s profit margin.
The company has also agreed to sink $200,000 into renovations of the craft within the next year. And spend $75,000 each year thereafter for work beyond routine maintenance.
“It’s just a great arrangement. We don’t view this as a failure, we view it as the next step forward,” said Daughtry.
He said the port purchased the sternwheeler 23 years ago but was unable to gain enough riders to keep the operation running in the black. In fact, Daughtry said the port has lost $3.3 million over the last decade in spite of spending an annual $150,000-$200,000 in recent years on a marketing campaign.
He said because of the continued financial problems, the port was unable to upgrade the boat as needed to meet changing consumer trends.
Since the agency didn’t want to sell the $3.5 million investment, or dry-dock it altogether, Daughtry said the lease was the best available option.
“It just made sense to turn the operations over to a company that had the resources to build on what we had accomplished,” he said.
According to the terms of the lease agreement, American will keep the sternwheeler at its home port in Cascade Locks during the peak tourist months from May through October. Daughtry is hopeful that American will establish an off-season market so visitors can enjoy a winter excursion in the scenic setting.
He said American plans to bring Outrageous, a jet boat, into the Gorge and run it from another port-owned dock above Bonneville Dam.
Daughtry said without sternwheeler expenditures, or staffing the visitor center which will now be run by American, the port can focus on creating other economic development opportunities.
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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"
Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge