ILWACO - The Ilwaco City Council voted Monday night to approve a $2.4 million contract with Rognlin Construction of Aberdeen, the low bidder for the long-awaited First and Howerton project at the Port of Ilwaco.

The approval came after port and city officials thrashed out nearly $500,000 in cuts to the project after bids came in higher than the $1.6 million in grant money available for the construction. Council members Shirley Burt and David Fritts were unable to attend the meeting.

"The port is very pleased the council approved this and we can start construction," Port Manager Mack Funk said Tuesday. "We think it's important to improve the connection between downtown Ilwaco and the port."

Blake Olofson, project manager for Gray and Osborne Inc., engineers for the port improvement designs, repeated a presentation he made at a port/city workshop last week, outlining the cuts to be made. "We want to move forward with this," he said, adding that construction of a new sewer line should begin soon after the Labor Day Weekend when ground water levels are low. He said the majority of cuts were "above and beyond the scope of work" of construction. Paving and sidewalk work will begin next spring, he said.

"We have to make the cuts," Ilwaco Mayor Ed Leonard said, repeating a statement he made during the workshop, "We're getting rid of the frosting and keeping the cake. I recommend the council approve this and we go forward. This is a community based project."

Olofson said with council approval Monday, he could send the contracts to Rognlin Tuesday, get state approval, have the contract signed by the mayor and begin construction soon after Labor Day.

In other city of Ilwaco business:

Operations supervisor Randy LaVold reported that an 8-inch water main was punctured during work on the Discovery Heights development last week, cutting off water to residents of the Sahalee area. He said the pipe was repaired but homes in the area would experience discolored water. More repairs will be made today, Wednesday, relocating the water main, LaVold said, interrupting water service. He advised Sahalee residents to go to the faucet furthest from the water line's entry point and open it to let out built-up air after service is resumed.

Jenette Wilks, owner of the Sea Hag Tavern in downtown Ilwaco, brought plumber Ted Hettervig from Astoria Plumbing and Tile to the meeting Monday to discuss problems with the sewer line at her business. Wilks said she had spent over $1,000 trying to correct the problem since the start of the year.

Hettervig said he had done a "floor cleanout" of the line inside the business and had brought in a "jetter" to attempt to clear a "huge plug" in the line. "My jetter can go anywhere," he said. "Not at the Sea Hag. I got to the front door and couldn't go north." He then brought in a 175-foot mechanical snake to try to clear the line. "It went 75 feet and I had a heck of a time getting it through," he said.

A video camera was brought into play, producing black and white and color shots of the plugged line. "I found dry pipe," Hettervig said. "Then I saw what I call 'paper angels,' toilet paper floating in water. It's ladies night at the tavern that gives us problems," he said. "All Ms. Wilks wants is a sewer line that works. She's tired of this."

Leonard said he and Lavold would view the videotapes this morning to attempt a solution to the problem. Lavold said Tuesday morning the problem with the old terra cotta line is "curable," and that when construction on the new First and Howerton sewer lines is complete "it will be corrected easily."

Leonard reported that he was negotiating all day Tuesday with the U.S. Coast Guard on connecting sewer lines from Station Cape Disappointment to the city. "They have the money and this has to be signed by Sept. 1," Leonard said. A special city council meeting is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 19, to discuss the project.

Kent Gregory, of Taylor-Gregory Architects, requested city approval of a site plan for new construction at Ocean Beach Hospital. The plan was approved with 10 conditions added by the city's planner Skip Urling. "We want to start construction before the rains come," Gregory said.

The council approved, with amendments, the city's noise ordinance over objections of resident Harry Dunlap who, in the past, has discussed noise from compressors "running night and day" at fish processing plants at the Port of Ilwaco. Dunlap, who lives near the port, said a bed and breakfast nearby was forced to go out of business because of the noise from refrigerator trucks parked at the port. "I have a right to live in my house," he said.

An exemption for noise originating from commercial or industrial activities was removed from the ordinance.

Council member Doug Hubbard moved to pass the ordinance and work on an amendment calling for the port to deal with the problems with the refrigerator trucks. The original ordinance was approved with Hubbard voting "no."

Council member Victoria Stoppiello said she wants to "light a match under the people at the port to do something about the noise, then reconsider the ordinance."

Funk said Tuesday he was "disappointed the council took that action. We're trying to bring more business to Ilwaco and with business comes a certain level of noise. The port has been very responsive to citizen complaints that have arisen."

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