Governor visits ‘Idaho Seaport at Lewiston’

Otter visits Port of Lewiston and bids farewell to outgoing Lewis-Clark State College President Dene Thomas

By William L. Spence of the Tribune

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Idaho Gov. C.L. (Butch) Otter stopped at the Port of Lewiston Friday – or as he likes to call it, the Idaho Seaport at Lewiston – and then bid a fond farewell to another local institution.

Otter spent an hour with Port Manager Dave Doeringsfeld, getting an update on a proposed dock extension and visiting a couple of business tenants.

Financed in part by a $500,000 state grant, the port is currently working through the design and permitting process for the dock expansion. The $2.3 million project would double the size of the existing crane dock and allow multiple barges to be loaded or unloaded at the same time. It would also make Lewiston a destination for oversized industrial cargo.

Otter, an enthusiastic champion of business and economic opportunity, said the state will do whatever it can to help the port reach its potential.

“Having a seaport 400 miles inland is a huge asset in the transportation cost game,” he said. “This (facility) is a gem, especially with some of the things we’re looking at in terms of green energy development. Some of that equipment is so big and heavy, the port is the only way to bring it in and out.”

Funding for the project is still about $1.8 million short, Doeringsfeld said, but the port continues to work with the state and Idaho’s congressional delegation to try to secure grants or other appropriations.

While at the port, Otter visited with Glen Seekins, owner of firearm parts manufacturer Seekins Precision, and with Clearwater Canyon Cellars, a small winery business that processes grapes from this area.

He then visited outgoing Lewis-Clark State College President Dene Thomas, thanking her for her years of service here and wishing her well with her new job as president of Ft. Lewis College in Durango, Colo.

“She’s been a great leader for us in higher education,” Otter said. “I’m proud of her.”

Otter, who has served as congressman, state representative and lieutenant governor over the past 38 years, is seeking a second four-year term as governor. He formally kicked off his campaign last week.

“Four years ago, when I came home to Idaho (after three terms in Congress), I said I didn’t believe we can save the republic from Washington, D.C.,” Otter said. “It isn’t in their interest to divest themselves of the money or the power. The way to save the republic is with the states. We’ve balanced our budget, we’ve resisted federal intrusions where necessary. There are things we can do to have a more lean and efficient state government, and we continue to work on those. And with the federal government, we want to be part of the decision process with our natural resources. It seems like most of the direction on that comes from D.C., and Idaho should at least have a seat at the table.”

Otter has five Republican challengers in the May 25 primary. Two independents, a Libertarian and two Democrats have also filed for office.

Spence may be contacted at [email protected] or (208) 848-2274.