Port of Lewiston digs in on homeless encampment, Lewiston Tribune, July 13, 2017

Officials say they may bring in backhoe to rid port land of illegal camp

By ELAINE WILLIAMS of the Tribune

Garbage left behind in a well-hidden homeless encampment located on Port of Lewiston land will be removed and the camp will be demolished, port officials said.

A backhoe may be used as a last resort to rid North Lewiston of an encampment of homeless people.

The collection of four to five tents on Port of Lewiston property in a ravine north of the LC Ice Arena isn’t a safe place to live, but so far individuals continue to do so despite increased scrutiny from public officials, said Port Manager David Doeringsfeld.

Recently, Doeringsfeld and another port employee visited the camp during the day with some garbage bags, thinking it would take one or two hours to remove the mess, Doeringsfeld told port commissioners at a Wednesday meeting.

“It’s much more extensive than I had anticipated,” he said.

A “No Trespassing” sign stands at the start of a path leading to the encampment that first came to the port’s attention in the spring.

The area has lots of mice and a significant amount of trash, but no human waste or indication people cook there, Doeringsfeld said.

It’s just about 100 yards east of where a grass fire burned near the Lewiston wastewater treatment plant around the July 4 holiday, Doeringsfeld said.

Port officials will follow all legal steps and post information about the plans at the camp. They will visit the camp at least once more, this time going early in the morning when people are most likely to be around so they can talk with whoever is there in person, Doeringsfeld said.

Plus, they will check to see if the Lewiston Police Department can issue citations for trespassing. Then, in cooperation with law enforcement, the port will dismantle the makeshift residences, dispose of trash and possessions and clear away trees that help provide shelter, Doeringsfeld said.

“That will remove the attraction for someone to locate there again.”

In other business, port commissioners approved a lease agreement for Hells Canyon Armory, a custom rifle maker, that’s relocating to Lewiston from Malaga, Wash., near Wenatchee. The business has two employees, counting the owner, and makes 35 to 50 custom rifles a year, as well as carbon fiber barrels for rifles. It will occupy 1,500 square feet of space in the port’s incubator at 1708 Sixth Ave. North, paying $360 per month.

Hells Canyon Armory seems a little like Seekins Precision was in its early days when it started at the port incubator, said Assistant Port Manager Jaynie Bentz.

That business now makes rifles and rifle components at its own plant near the Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport.

Williams may be contacted at [email protected] or (208) 848-2261.