The Portland and Western Railroad has issued an invitation to county and city officials to participate in an April 28, fact-finding train trip through Columbia County. As early as next month, two 110-car unit trains per week filled with grain will begin passing through communities along its rail line.
The fact-finding train ride will originate in Portland and make stops in Scappoose, St. Helens, and Rainier on its way to Port Westward where the new Cascade Grain ethanol plant is located. On Sunday, April 13, a trial unit train filled with corn made its way though county railroad crossings to Port Westward with only minor traffic tie-ups and no emergency vehicle problems reported.
According to a P and W spokesman, the purpose of the train ride will be to educate officials about the critical rail component to the plant operations, and the economic and community impact Cascade Grain will have on the county.
Due to new state ethics laws, in order for elected officials and city staff to participate in the fact-finding event, the trip must be officially sanctioned by each public body. By sanctioning the event, cities and their councils, boards and commissions will qualify for a gift-ban exemption that allows them to accept the train travel and a lunch served at Cascade Grain.
As the train arrives at Port Westward it will run through a ceremonial banner, and all those in attendance will be given a brief tour of the ethanol plant before returning.