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World travels can now begin closer to home

Passports -- Forest Grove City Hall to begin accepting applications next week, saving globe trotters a trip to county offices

Planning a tour of the French countryside this summer? Looking forward to kicking back on a Grecian isle or Caribbean Cay?

You'll need a passport before you go and beginning next week, the City of Forest Grove will accept passport applications at City Hall, saving local residents a trek to Hillsboro or McMinnville.

The Forest Grove City Hall passport counter, at 1924 Council St. will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursdays. A Spanish interpreter will be available both days until 1 p.m.

The service is intended as a convenience for local residents, said Susan Cole, the city's assistant finance director. Currently, residents heading to exotic environs must first make a trip to either Washington County or Yamhill County offices.

But the city also aims to pick up a bit of cash. Cole estimates Forest Grove will take in about $25,000 in revenue this fiscal year from the associated fees - that's assuming 833 people apply for a new passport.

To apply, citizens can download an application from the U.S. Department of State website, (www.travel.state.gov), or pick one up from city hall. Completed applications, along with proof of citizenship and identity and two passport-quality photographs can then be returned to the passport counter. A new passport costs $67, plus a $30 application fee, which the city keeps.

The city will not be offering a passport photo service, so residents will need to obtain their own photographs ahead of time.

Currently, the only place to obtain passport photos in Forest Grove is SignMeisters, Inc., a block away from city hall on Pacific Avenue.