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Letters from the Community


August 29, 2018

Update on the observatory

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission is pleased to let you know that we anticipate starting work at Goldendale Observatory in September, once permits are in hand. We have contracted with Tapani, Inc., of Battle Ground, to complete work on a much-expanded Observatory in the fall of 2019.

Current available funding for the project at Goldendale Observatory State Park Heritage Site is $5.4 million. This funding will allow us to:

1. Build the new Observatory, retaining the iconic telescope room dome

2. Expand presentation and theater auditorium space

3. Create interactive exhibits

4. Add restrooms, septic system and other systems to support the building

5. Provide for a major expansion in parking and bus access for school groups

6. Improve landscaping and construct “hardscaping” for enhanced outdoor interpretation and public use

The vision for the Observatory shared by State Parks and the community also includes enhanced interpretive displays and an accessible ramp to a rooftop viewing area where the solar dome will be placed. These aspects of the project will be included as a new project in the State Parks 2019-21 Capital Budget Request. Our goal is to obtain the funding and complete this final work as soon as possible.

The buildout of the full vision for the Observatory will take a little longer than originally planned, largely due to the legislature’s delay in approving a 2017-19 capital budget. The delay put state projects into an expensive bidding environment, with stiff competition for labor. Contributing factors also include Goldendale’s comparatively remote location and highly specialized building.

We at State Parks are proud of our talented and hard-working Goldendale staff. We value our relationship with the Goldendale community. And we feel fortunate that there is so much shared passion and interest in this special place.

We look forward to gathering with you to celebrate an expanded and improved Observatory in the fall of 2019, knowing even more and better things are on the horizon—including a second celebration on the rooftop.

Toni Weyman Droscher

Communications and Social Media

Washington State Parks

Rodeo announcer wasn't funny

I was surprised and dismayed to hear the rodeo announcer at the Klickitat County Fair make a series of “jokes” that were racist or homophobic or just unwelcoming: “How many of you are from California? Welcome to America! Now go the hell back where you came from!”

Except for native peoples, we are all immigrants, and came here not so long ago from places near and far. Our schools, churches and employers need to give thought to their role in erasing this fear and resentment of people who are “different.” Even the Klickitat County Strategic Economic Development Plan, released in May 2017, identified one of the County’s weaknesses as “resident resistance to change amidst growth & development.” Maybe the county needs a theme song: I recommend “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me…”

We must welcome visitors from the big cities as well as those who come to pick our crops, run our motels, care for our elders, and who eventually become citizens and neighbors. Without these people, there are fewer lumber sales, fewer groceries sold, and fewer customers at our taverns, gas stations and specialty shops. This county stretches for 85 miles along the Columbia River, and has a population of roughly 20,000. We can handle a few more residents.

Our focus should be on making sure this county offers economic opportunity for everyone. The recent election exposed the unevenness of our economic recovery. “[Some of you] live on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity; [you] are still languishing in the corners of American society and find [yourself] in exile in your own land.” Does this describe some of our neighbors here in Klickitat County? These words were spoken on August 28, 1963, exactly 55 years ago, before a crowd of a million people on the National Mall in Washington, DC, by Martin Luther King. He was speaking on the need for economic justice.

The upcoming elections give us a chance to welcome everyone into the tent, and work together to improve our lives and communities, for everyone. That is why I am voting for Sasha Bentley to become our legislator in the 14 District.

Sandra DeMent



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