Officials, Visitors Mark Dam's 50th Anniversaryby Andy Porter
Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, June 16, 2012
Maintaining the dam's aging infrastructure in the face of shrinking budgets will be a challenge.
BURBANK - With water roaring from its floodgates forming a backdrop, officials and guests gathered at Ice Harbor Lock and Dam on Saturday to mark the facility's first half-century of service.
The celebration marked the 50th anniversary of the dam's completion on May 9, 1962, an event commemorated by a visit from then-Vice President Lyndon Johnson to dedicate the structure.
At Saturday's ceremony, Col. Robert A. Tipton, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Northwestern Division, delivered the keynote address, noting that "despite a slow start, sporadic funding and 15 years in planning and construction, Ice Harbor Dam has met with more than just limited success."
He went on to list the "real and positive" results of the dam's existence, including hydropower generation, helping provide a navigable waterway to aid commerce in the region and reservoirs and campgrounds to meet increased demands for recreation "in some of the most wild and scenic country in the nation."
But Tipton went on to note the challenges that lie ahead, particularly in regards to maintaining the dam's aging infrastructure in the face of shrinking budgets. Those challenges, he said, will require the efforts of not just the Corps but of all the entities and people who have interests in the region and its environmental and economic health.
"My fervent hope is that we continue to work together toward comprehensive river basin operations and responsible river governance ... to clear the hurdles and deliver results for this region," he said.
Among those in the audience for Saturday's event was Bob Kress who was a project engineer during the dam's construction who had his own memories of the day Vice President Johnson visited Ice Harbor 50 years ago.
"I was here for the dedication and we had a big housecleaning the day before," he recalled with a smile.
But later that night the dam's chief of operations came to check things out and decided the area still wasn't neat enough, Kress said.
"He called everyone back out and we had to do it all over again," he said.
Ice Harbor Dam Near Tri-Cities Turns 50 by Associated Press, Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, 6/16/12
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