ILWACO - The Ilwaco City Council approved a long-planned expansion of Jessie's Ilwaco Fish Co. Monday night after a public hearing during the city council meeting.

Pacific County Planner Mike Stevens outlined the details of the expansion:

- A 120x120x35-foot warehouse to receive product and for flash-freeze processing;

- A 40x40-foot addition to the existing Jessie's building to house electrical and utilities equipment;

- Repair and reconstruct an existing bulkhead at the south end of the proposed building footings; and

- Mitigation to include removal of 20 creosote pilings from the Baker Bay area near the entrance to the Port of Ilwaco.

"The project meets the intent of the regulations in the Shoreline Master Program," Stevens said.

"It's a good project," Francis Naglich, a consultant on the project from Ecological Land Services in Longview, said.

Speaking in favor of approval of the expansion, Port of Ilwaco Manager Mack Funk told commissioners that the port owns the land Jessie's is on.

"Jessie's is the biggest employer in our community," he said. "This project represents a private investment of $4 million. The port depends on businesses like Jessie's. Without this volume of business, it's difficult to get the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dredge our channel. We want to keep the port open for business. Boats have to be able to come into the harbor to deliver product. Jessie's does a good job and they follow the rules. It's a clean and safe operation."

Funk pointed out that Jessie's has paid the port rent on the property where the expansion will be built for two years but has been unable to use it.

That changed Monday night when, after the public hearing, the council approved the expansion project.

Other business discussed during the City Council meeting included:

• Mayor Doug Hubbard said progress is being made on formulating a contract with the Seaview Sewer District. "The contract discussions with Seaview are going well," he said, and a preliminary draft has been sent to the lawyers and should be back this week. "We're looking at a resolution," he said.

• Vandalia resident Don Berger requested that the council look into providing highway signs to indicate Stringtown Road and the Vandalia development. Councilman David Fritts told Berger he would look into it.

• Two appointments to the Ilwaco Timberland Library Board of Directors were approved by the council - Wendi Peterson and Melissa Stern have come forward to volunteer to serve on the board.

• Councilman Fred Marshall asked that the council discuss clarifying the city's code for new water and sewer connection fees. The matter will be on the agenda at the council's next meeting.

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