PORT OF ILWACO - Port of Ilwaco Manager Mack Funk reported on the progress of the First and Howerton project at the port's commission meeting Tuesday, saying work is going well and there are still "lots of details" to be ironed out. He said the underground utility work is "pretty far along" and that Ford Electric has been hired to make connections to customers.

Funk said in the process, three utility meters at the port's restrooms have been combined, saving the port two monthly charges. During the replacement process, workers damaged a sewer line and a water line that had to be repaired. It wasn't all bad news, though. Calling it an "interesting coincidence," Funk said the work "may have uncovered the reason for sewer problems at the port's marina. The lift station isn't getting material to the main, he said, and there may be a blockage. The pump is working, he said, but it's not going uphill. "It will be a big relief to get it fixed," he said.

The new curbs on Howerton are completed, but there's a problem with a cut in the curb near the port making it impossible to get a wheelchair up and over it. Funk said he relayed the problem to the city and the project's engineers are working on it.

Funk reported that a narrow turning radius on the east end of Howerton would make for difficulty maneuvering large motor homes or boat trailers around the corner that had been widened. But, Mike Casinelli of Beacon Charters said the road now has no room for drop-off space at his office. The matter isn't resolved yet, Funk said.

Paving of Howerton was set to start Tuesday, Funk said, but has been put off because of a prediction of heavy rain. Meanwhile, he is asking people not to drive on the new street bed, which has been graded and graveled. "We don't want it torn up," he said. "It will be paved pretty soon."

Addressing the problem of "bellies" in the newly installed sewer mains, Funk said he hopes the problem will be resolved soon. "We have no interest in tearing up the mains," he said. "It seems to be working fine but the (Ilwaco) City Council will have to decide."

A videotape of the line filmed two weeks ago is in the hands of the port and the city and the "results appear favorable," he said. "But it's too soon to make a decision. I hope the city will make the right decision."

Foundations have been started for lights along Waterfront Way, Funk said, and he said he has asked the contractor to install wiring for future uses such as speakers. He said about seven citizens have said they want to buy the $1,200 lights with plaques as memorials for friends or relatives.

Still to be dealt with are "looming problems," Funk said, including a road west of the Peninsula Sanitation building that needs to repaved and replacing the fence at the port's boat yard. "The contractor is trying to charge for its removal," he said. But, overall, he said the project is going very well.

Jeanne Lord, who recently purchased the Tidewind building that houses her Festivals Coffee Net shop, said a "very strong smell of diesel" recently appeared in the area that serves as the north entrance to her building. She asked for information about the source of the smell, such as a buried fuel tank, but no one could come up with an answer for the problem.

Lord also said she has been talking to prospective occupants of space in her building, among them a sandwich shop, a charter office and a seafood retail store. She said she has acquired a beer and wine license for her business.

Port Financial Director Mary DeLong reported that plans and specifications are complete for the new restrooms to be constructed at the port near the ShoreBank building. Advertising for bids will begin this week and bids will be opened at 10 a.m. Monday, March 10. The restrooms are expected to be completed by June 30.

Harbormaster Jamie Sowers reported that several big dredging and dock repair projects have been completed at the port including a complete repair of I Dock that is "good if not better" than the original, she said. Repairs also have been made to the port office to stop a problem with water leakage.

Dredging is "going great," Sowers said, with all of J Dock and the first eight slips on K Dock completed. "There are 11 days left in the dredging season," she said. "We can finish it by then."

Funk reported that he and port Commissioner Jim Stiebritz will travel to Washington, D.C., on Thursday to request funds for dredging next year.

He said the port will receive $630,000 this year from the federal budget for channel dredging. Funk and Stiebritz will be bringing fresh local crab for a reception at the Senate Office Building and also will be discussing sardine quotas while they're there as well as the $50 million in the budget for a groundfish buyback program for fishermen who leave the program.

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