As an internationally-renowned marine terminal and home to some of the most efficient grain export facilities on the west coast, the Port of Kalama plays a key role in how Washington wheat feeds the world!
Discover! Did you know that the Port of Kalama is part of the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association?
The Port of Kalama works with the other Lower Columbia River Ports as a member of the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association (PNWA)—a non-profit trade association that helps ensure our waterways are efficient, reliable, and environmentally sustainable.
PNWA members include ports, businesses, public agencies and individuals who combine their economic and political strength in support of navigation, energy, trade and economic development throughout the Pacific Northwest.
To put the Port of Kalama’s place in the Pacific Northwest in perspective, the Columbia Snake River System is the nation’s number one wheat export gateway and number two soybean export gateway which is fed by a 365-mile, 14-foot draft inland barge system which stretches from Portland, OR to Lewiston, ID. The river system exported over 50 million tons of cargo in 2016. It is also the west coast’s number one wood and mineral bulks export gateway and a rising importer/exporter of vehicles. In all, over $21 billion worth of cargo moves on the Columbia Snake River System each year.
As a part of the Columbia Snake River System, the Port of Kalama is a strong advocate of the PNWA and their work to support the region on critical economic, environmental and transportation programs and issues.
The PNWA mission: PNWA strengthens the regional economy by increasing economic and environmental sustainability, while providing a cooperative, regional approach to addressing public policy. The organization monitors and advocates on issues impacting:
PNWA members work to protect the environment while preserving the economic value of the region’s water resources.
Energy & Salmon
PNWA works to maximize hydropower production and navigation systems on the Columbia and Snake rivers, while balancing the needs of salmon and working in support of ecosystem restoration and development.
PNWA works with federal agencies, the Northwest Congressional delegation and stakeholders from around the region to build consensus and develop collaborative solutions for some of the most challenging Northwest issues.
Just some of the reasons the Port of Kalama is a committed member and participant in the PNWA:
- PNWA was founded as the Inland Empire Waterways Association (IEWA) to provide water to grow food for a hungry nation, electrify the rural Northwest and provide a low-cost navigation channel to world markets
- PNWA chaired the Management Committee completing the Lower Columbia River Estuary Program water quality management plan
- PNWA works to protect the environment while preserving the economic value of resources affected by regional development
Discover! Did you know the Port of Kalama is part of a hundred year old network of Washington Ports?
As settlers migrated across the country, they often chose locations near water. Washington State was no different – with many deep harbors and navigable rivers, towns sprung up throughout the state, dependent on access to water for movement of goods and people.
Summer is on the way and so are seasonal events hosted at the Port of Kalama! It is part of the Port of Kalama mission to create recreational opportunities for the community and with the opening of the new Westin Amphitheater, there are even more summer events perfect for entertaining the whole family!
Mark your calendars for some new festivities and some annual traditions. Coming soon:
McMenamins Summer Concert Series at the new Westin Amphitheater, Wednesday nights from 6—8:15p—all summer long.
Kalama Heritage Festival—sharing the spirit of Hawaii and the Pacific Northwest—at Marine and Rasmussen Parks, June 28, 29, 30
McMenamins Movies in the Park, to be scheduled soon!
Kalama Fair at Haydu Park, July 11—13
Steelhead Challenge Derby, Rasmussen Park, July 19, 20, 21
ASC Dog Show, Marine Park, July 26, 27, 28
McMenamins Inaugural Brewfest, Marine Park & Westin Amphitheater, August 10
Discover! Did you know the Port of Kalama dedicates new amphitheater to longest serving Port commissioner Milford S. Westin?
The Westin Amphitheater at Marine Park will be dedicated at a brief ceremony on June 5th at 6:30 p.m. prior to the first McMenamins Concert in the Park
Port of Kalama will dedicate its new amphitheater to the longest acting Port commissioner Milford S. Westin, who served the community for 28 years from 1977 to 2005. The Port honors Westin for his tireless public service, commitment to parks and recreational amenities, and a notable legacy of long-term planning that has made the Port the global economic engine for the community it is today. The brief dedication ceremony will take place on Wednesday, June 5 at 5:45 p.m.
When Westin joined the Port as commissioner, the organization consisted of a grain elevator and a couple of lumber companies, a budget of $295,000 and two employees. Construction of the Port’s marina was just beginning. Because of some of the strategic long-term planning of Westin and other commissioners, the Port of Kalama is now home to more than 30 industries employing well over 1,200 workers.
The Port of Kalama has long considered the community benefits of creating a small public amphitheater on the Kalama waterfront to accommodate a growing number of events, concerts and public activities. With a mission of providing recreational assets to the community, the Port has completed construction of the long-awaited amphitheater.
“It is only fitting to dedicate this exceptional new community asset to Milford Westin who made innumerable contributions to the Port’s many successes and developments,” said Alan Basso, president, Port of Kalama Board of Commissioners. “It is the careful planning and strategic direction of our predecessors like Westin that enable us to envision public recreational features like the new Westin Amphitheater—we are grateful for his many contributions.”
McMenamins hosts the first in a series of summer concerts with The Ferenjis from 7:00—8:15 p.m. The concert series runs every Wednesday night through the summer. For a complete list of concerts click here.
“Part of the Port’s mission is to create recreational opportunities for the community—these improvements and the addition of a small outdoor venue for public events fulfill that goal,” says Basso. “With increased use of Port parks, the intent is to create more diverse and enjoyable guest experiences at events like the ones the region has been enjoying for decades such as the Blues and Hawaiian Festivals among others.”
Milford S. Westin pictured here below:
Discover! Did you know that the Port of Kalama is part of the largest public port system in the world?
Washington state has the largest locally-controlled public port system in the world with 75 port districts. Washington represents 2% of the U.S. population, and Washington ports handle 7% of U.S. exports and 6% of all imports.
Those ports are located in 33 of the 39 counties in Washington—and the Port of Kalama is one of them!
If you live in Washington, chances are that most of what you eat, wear and use came through one of Washington’s 75 ports. Our state is the most trade-dependent in the nation, with trade responsible for one in every four jobs in Washington.
Washington’s 75 ports range in size from accommodating international deep-draft trade to small community marinas and recreational boat launches and rail operators. Ports also operate docks, airports, railroads, industrial sites, marinas and recreational facilities throughout the state, bringing investments and jobs to their communities.
The Washington Public Ports Association promotes the interests of these ports and Washington state citizens to contribute to our state’s economy and quality of life through effective government relations, ongoing education, and strong advocacy programs.
Currently, 69 ports are members of the Washington Public Ports Association, visible below within the map. Notice something? Not all ports are located on waterways—and they don’t need to be! Many airports and railways are port districts.
The primary purpose of a port district in Washington State is economic development—port districts can build and operate airports, marine terminals, marinas, railroads, and industrial parks, and in some cases, promote tourism.
Special thanks to the Washington Public Ports Association for aggregating this information to offer insight into the largest public port system in the world. The Port of Kalama is a proud, active member of the association. Check it out for more information on the work of our public ports system.
Port dredge maintenance professionals encourage young people to check out environmental engineering and science careers
After participating this week in another successful and productive Career Fair at Kalama High School, the Port of Kalama continues to educate the community—and in particular local youth—about career and job opportunities.
Meet a remarkable team of women who have dedicated their work—in part—to the Port’s year-round dredge maintenance program effort. The work of these engineers and environmental scientists help keep the Port’s berths and maritime business moving smoothly—all while ensuring environmental health as well as riverfront park and beach nourishment for recreational enjoyment.
Tabitha Reeder is the Port of Kalama’s environmental manager with a degree in biology and a masters in environmental science who leads the permitting process for Port projects. She also helps manage a talented team of engineers and environmental scientists on the Port’s award-winning annual maintenance dredging program.
With a location right on the Columbia River, the Port manages a number of deep-water berths to serve ocean going shipping vessels—in addition to a community marina. The TEMCO berth requires annual dredging to remove accumulated material. Federal and state agencies prefer to keep the sand in the natural ecosystem of the river to maintain a healthy habitat. The removed sediment and soil are placed in environmentally-friendly locations whether riverfront beaches, deep water, or to stabilize pilings in the river.
It takes a complex suite of skills and knowledge required to keep those channels clear and dredging and placement environmentally sound. The Port is required to coordinate with numerous local, state and federal agencies for permitting on all elements of these operations.
Reeder works with Eric Yakovich, economic development manager at the Port to manage and direct the work of Jessica Côté, coastal engineer, Amber Roesler, senior environmental scientist at Berger ABAM and Sally Fisher, a senior project manager with a background in soil science and natural resources management at Berger ABAM. This ‘dream team’ provides pivotal counsel for the Port to keep maritime operations running smoothly—and within environmental guidelines.
The lead engineer and designer on all of the Port’s dredge maintenance projects is Jessica Côté, a professional engineer (PE) with a Masters in ocean engineering, who has dedicated her career to integrating physical sciences with engineering to solve complex coastal and ocean problems around the world. She builds and leads multi-disciplinary teams to evaluate project feasibility and design guidelines for small and large coastal development and infrastructure, shoreline stabilization, dredging, and marine transportation like that at the Port of Kalama.
Côté has always loved the great outdoors and spending time around water. As a student she was specifically intrigued with how water works and moves. She excelled in math and science in high school and chose a career that enabled her to solve problems associated with water movement and flow on shorelines. After living on an island doing marine ecology work and learning to scuba dive, she started her engineering work and recently launched a private consulting firm working as a coastal engineer for clients like the Port of Kalama.
“The Port is extremely forward-thinking and proactive on how they manage their dredging and placement program—they are required to have a maintenance dredge program where they maintain water depths in the river where ships are coming in and out of berths and they take it to the next level. The Columbia River is tidally influenced and has a lot of sediment moving around in the river so as a coastal engineer I deal with the complex interactions between the water movement and that sediment,” says Cote. “We use survey information to determine the depths and then design dredging and how much material we need to move and place to accommodate the robust shipping industry at the Port.”
Côté says the opportunities for graduates in this line of work are wide open and she encourages people interested in this career line to dig deeper into math and sciences. She also encourages students to build a network, ask questions and seek out help and direction whenever they need it in order to keep learning.
Amber Roesler and Sally Fisher work together to coordinate with regulatory agencies on behalf of the Port of Kalama’s dredge maintenance program. They also applaud the Port’s progressive dredge maintenance program—and their keen oversight of dredging and placing materials intentionally to ensure healthy environmental habitats and recreational beaches.
The BergerABAM team provides the studies necessary to secure permits for evaluating dredged sediment quality and suitability. The team samples sediment for soil contamination and determines whether the quality of the soil is clean to place on the Port’s beaches.
“We help the Port of Kalama manage the dredging and soil or sediment disposal program in terms of selecting and permitting suitable places in the river or along the beaches where we can place the dredged material,” says Fisher. “That whole idea of best places to relocate sediment won the Western Dredging Association 2016 award for excellence—which was a very cool honor for the Port and this whole team. Working with coastal engineer Jessica Côté’s designs for best soil placement, we recommended placing dredge materials behind dike pilings in the river to support them and keep the river flowing without obstruction. There is so much satisfaction knowing you are helping your client maintain healthy rivers.”
Roesler says she has always been intrigued with how things work in the natural world—especially on a smaller scale and at the microscopic level so she started taking geology and botany courses to learn more. It was that interest as a young student that led her to studies in science and using math and science to solve problems.
Similarly, Fisher was always interested in subjects like water resources, biology, science and natural resources. They both recommend that students ‘take the darn math!’ It’s math that is everywhere and the building blocks of all sciences. They say stick with the sciences as there are so many jobs available to those who do. The team acknowledges that kids nearing graduation are nervous and overwhelmed but that a whole wide world of opportunities opens up to them if they follow an interest in science, technology and math.
“What we want everyone to know is how the Port makes decisions when it comes to the environment, healthy habitats and the river—the Port is heavily regulated and is required to work within numerous complex local, state, and federal laws and regulations,” says Mark Wilson, executive director at Port of Kalama. “It is the Port’s incredible team of engineers and scientists and their knowledge, creativity and relationship with the agencies, that enable us to offer win-win innovations to the community.”
Wilson adds that the Port is committed to creating a balanced opportunity for students to learn about a range of careers and business opportunities—there are amazing jobs right here and businesses that offer exceptional opportunities in Kalama.
Discover! The Port collaborates with schools and businesses to educate students on career opportunities right here at home
Did you know that businesses at the Port of Kalama employ more than 1,100 people? When you drive by the Port you may not see a lot of people or corporate neon signs, but Port of Kalama businesses combine to create a formidable employment community in Cowlitz County.
From family-owned ventures to Fortune 500 companies, there are over 30 industries conducting global business and commerce including import/export, manufacturing, marketing, welding and fabrication, steel manufacturing, recycling, trucking and myriad other commercial and industrial enterprises. They choose Kalama for its ideal location in the heart of the Pacific Northwest and proximity to highway, railroad and the Columbia River
Through work at the Kalama Career Fair and ongoing engagement of Port businesses in educational programs, the Port of Kalama continues to build close relationships between students, the faculty of Kalama Schools and the Port’s business community.
“We have a strong commitment to our community—we exist to create economic opportunity for our region, now and into the future,” says Mark Wilson, executive director at the Port of Kalama and a collaborative partner of the Kalama Career Fair. “We want to help create a balanced opportunity for students to learn about a range of careers and business opportunities—there are amazing jobs right here and businesses that offer world-class advantages in Kalama.”
The Kalama School District Career Fair takes place on Thursday, April 18 at the Kalama High School Gym. It is planned to spotlight the businesses, career opportunities and family-wage jobs right here in Kalama—and beyond.
The fair offers students an opportunity to learn about the companies in Kalama, the wide range of careers available here, the skill sets required, and the pathway to obtaining those jobs. The event, which is organized like a trade show with booths and spokespeople, invites local businesses to participate and share tips on what students should be thinking about and learning in order to secure their job and career path.
One eager Port business partner and Career Fair participant is Rob Rich, vice president of marine services at Shaver Transportation, a company that offers Port of Kalama businesses a tug and barge assistance service for ships, inland grain and bulk commodity transportation, and harbor/marine services. Rich, has participated in all Kalama Career Fairs and delights in helping students understand the business, career and job options available right here on the river.
“I want students to know what is expected of them when they seek a job—they need a high school education, they need to demonstrate that they are capable of learning and that they can take direction,” says Rich. “And I’d encourage other Port businesses to join us—it’s so important to reach out to these kids while they are in high school to offer them job exposure and help them to discover their passion. It’s the best time to help them along their life career path.”
Students will attend a presentation on Port businesses prior to visiting the Career Fair so they can make decisions on which businesses they would like to learn more about.
The Spencer Creek Business Park is being built as a part of the Port of Kalama’s long-term plan to diversify the region’s business sector—which is important for ensuring a healthy economy and thriving community. The new Business Park was methodically planned to support a mix of commercial business, retail, dining, lodging and light industrial when it is complete.
In fact, it is much like the long-term build-out of the popular Kalama River Industrial Park—also a long-planned and very successful Port investment. The Port constructs infrastructure like the Industrial Park as well as bridge access, roads, sidewalks and required utilities to attract productive business partners and opportunity to the community.
The Port built-out the industrial buildings to invite companies who wanted existing infrastructure and amenities. And the good news? The Industrial Park is now home to 10 manufacturing businesses and 100s of employees.
The Industrial Park has been so successful the Port recently built another industrial building to house new tenants who are core to the emerging steel manufacturing and distribution sector here.
The Port will also build-out some of the preliminary infrastructure and amenities for the Spencer Creek Business Park, which is a long-planned mixed-use concept imagined decades ago by the Port team and commissioners. This is all part of our mission to maintain the community’s economic health with thoughtful growth.
And the Port has already invested in the Spencer Creek neighborhood with the Haydu Park recreational facility we all appreciate. The Port will soon open a brand-new playground with state-of-the-art play structures for our children to enjoy.
With the current surface road project at Spencer Creek Business Park, we’re on the way to developing the area to welcome new diverse businesses and jobs.
Watch our video to learn more about Spencer Creek Business Park!
Port of Kalama Commissioners are elected to six-year terms as defined by law. Many of the Port’s projects and developments are the results of long-term planning and decades long vision of many Port commissioners.
The elected Port of Kalama Board of Commissioners sets Port policy following the organizational mission is ‘to induce capital investment in an environmentally responsible manner to create jobs and to enhance public recreational opportunities.’ The Commission ensures a sound economic development strategy for the Port to create a balanced and diverse industry base and provide living wage jobs and a range of community recreational amenities.
So, who are these community leaders?
Alan Basso has served as a Kalama Port Commissioner since 2012. He is a long-time Kalama resident and currently serves as a Lieutenant and Fire Investigator with the Longview Fire Department. Basso graduated from Kalama High School in 1980, earned a BA degree at Washington State University in 1986 and received an AAS in Fire Protection Technology from Portland Community College in 2010.
Alan is fourth generation Kalama citizen—his maternal grandfather, Otto Kockritz, was born here in 1890. His father built the Kockritz Hotel in 1908, which is now home to Poker Pete’s. Alan’s maternal great grandmother moved to Kalama, settling up the River in 1904 on a farm known as ‘The Red Barn.’ His paternal grandparents emigrated from Finland and settled on Green Mountain in 1919. In 1923, Alan’s great aunt and husband arrived and purchased a nearby farm. In 1948, his parents bought the great aunt’s home, and he, in turn, bought it to keep it all in the family.
Troy Stariha has served as a Commissioner for the Port of Kalama since 2010.
He also is currently serving as Chair for the Executive Committee for the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Council of Governments. A long-time Kalama resident, he graduated from Kalama High School in 1989. Troy has worked for Kalama Auto Supply and Repair for 27 years, purchasing the business in 2003. As a small business owner within his community, he understands the area’s desires and future needs on a personal level.
His focus on economic development helps the port successfully create a balance of quality of life and family-wage jobs in the region. The Port of Kalama is an integral part of their community and Troy is proud to serve as commissioner. Troy is the father of three boys and has one grandchild. Much of his free time is spent attending his sons’ sporting events. Other hobbies include playing golf, watching NASCAR and attending community events.
Randy Sweet has served as a Kalama Port Commissioner since 2005. An engineering geologist and hydrogeologist with degrees from LCC, Western Washington and the University of Oregon, he founded a very successful nationwide environmental consulting business. He is also past president of the St. John Foundation and chairman of the Cowlitz County Planning Commission, and is a founding member of the Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board. Randy and his wife Sheli have lived in the oldest house in Kalama for over 40 years!
Port Commissioners have many responsibilities to ensure optimum use of port facilities, acreage and infrastructure. The commission oversees everything from marina and industrial improvements to due diligence on industries that fit and comply with the mission of the Port and the culture of the community, as well as investment in community recreational facilities like parks, walking paths, marina and other amenities.
Thank you for your service to our community, Commissioners Basso, Stariha and Sweet! You are appreciated.
The Port Commission is here to serve the community
Citizens interested in communicating with their Port of Kalama Commissioner can call the Port offices at 360-673-2325; send letters to their Commissioner at the Port office, 110 West Marine Drive, Kalama, Washington 98625; or email Commission@PortofKalama.com.