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Christmas comes to Troutdale

As the year draws to a close, it is a good time to take inventory of the blessings received and commitments to future projects in our city.

In spite of the challenging economy, there still are good things happening in our community. When you look at the aggregate of all the projects that are proposed and currently under construction, it totals more than $127 million. This equates into approximately 1,400 direct jobs and thousands more for the manufacturing and transportation of those products to construction sites throughout our city.

The largest project is the $73.6 million I-84 bridge project crossing the Sandy River. The two state-of-the-art bridges will define the portal at the west end of the Columbia Gorge. It also allows pedestrians and bicyclists to safely cross by creating a 16-foot-wide path separating vehicle traffic from people traffic.

The partnership with the Port of Portland has led to major investment at the former Reynolds Aluminum site we call TRIP, Troutdale Reynolds Industrial Park. The Port has committed $43.1 million for the next phased-in expansion, which will add nine additional large parcels for future development. The current anchor to this property is the FedEx Regional Hub, which is also looking at expanding to 660,000 square feet, creating additional job opportunities. FedEx has created the largest expansion of its business since their inception this past year.

The final improvements to the $2.7 million interchange at exit 17 are completed. Major bottlenecks at the exit have been corrected with the three lanes at the east and westbound off-ramps. Additional lane capacity, both on South and North Frontage Road, makes traveling into and out of Troutdale much easier and provides an inducement for businesses to locate in our city. We are currently seeking additional funding to create a two-way onto Marine Drive as you exit the east bound ramp. This will create direct access to the industrial area and help market the TRIP property to future employers.

The new police station is under construction. This was made possible through the passage of the $7.5 million bond to replace a deficient and aging facility. We look forward to the grand opening slated sometime in the fall of 2012. Thanks, Troutdale voters.

Our 'Troutdale Open for Business Plan' has attracted several new businesses to our downtown and other locations throughout the city. In the last 90 days, we have businesses filling up the north side of our downtown. We applaud these entrepreneurs who are taking this step of faith by opening their doors.

Our star attraction to Troutdale is the adult playground we call McMenamins Edgefield. Business has been very good at this location. The hotel is running at full capacity during the summer months, which has led to the purchase of the former county jail to the west of the hotel. Plans call for the jail to have 50 guest rooms with other supporting guest services. The summer concerts continue to be a real hit with people coming from all over the region. This last season they had 16 concerts with up to 5,000 attendees. Jeff Bryant, property manager for Edgefield said, 'This last year has been our best year to date. We have had a banner year in room bookings and in our concert venue.'

Not only are our businesses experiencing growth, but our local schools are enjoying a major turnaround, too, in particular Reynolds High School. Under the resolute leadership of its principal, Jeff Gilbert, test scores have improved and the graduation rates have increased. The students recently had a once-in-a-lifetime experience when the Oregon State Supreme Court held session on campus with attorneys arguing two cases in front of the students and the justices. The 'Living History' day, with the school honoring more than 300 military veterans, was the zenith for the students on Veterans Day.

Troutdale is well positioned to enjoy future improvements that will benefit all of us. We thank all of the employers, city employees and volunteers working so diligently to make our community a premier location to live, play and work.

Jim Kight is the mayor of Troutdale.