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Firework group seeks city aid

The Dalles City Council was asked Monday to provide two years of startup funds, a total of $35,000, for a Fourth of July celebration involving multiple activities for families.

“We are trying to develop an event that keeps the community in town for the whole day,” Doug Kirchhofer, organizer for the Fort Dalles Fourth, told the elected body.

He was accompanied at the Jan. 9 meeting by Les Cochenour, vice-president of the Mid-Columbia Veterans Memorial Committee, which has adopted the Fourth as a subcommittee.

The nonprofit organization can offer a tax deduction to individuals, businesses and organizations that contribute to the cause. Kirchhofer and his team of volunteers want to bring back the traditional fireworks show that stalled 27 years ago and are planning to make the event self-sustaining in three years.

Councilor Carolyn Wood told Kirchhofer and Cochenour that she wanted the requested expenditure of $20,000 in the current fiscal year and $15,000 in 2014-15 discussed during the Feb. 6 goal setting session. She gained agreement from Councilor Bill Dick that the budget needed to be scrutinized to determine if there was extra money to donate toward the celebration. If funding could be found, they said a list of organizations that served the community would also have to be considered for support.

“To me, I don’t like fireworks because it upsets every dog in the county,” said Wood. “It’s like burning money, so I would rather sponsor Challenge Day (anti-bullying program for students).”

“There’s an element of prioritization among a lot of worthy programs,” said Dick.

Kirchhofer said Home at Last Humane Society had endorsed the event, as have most local veterans groups. He said there had been initial objections about the noise and flashing lights causing PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) issues for combat veterans so he had sought support from the memorial committee and similar organizations.

The Fourth is working on a program for Independence Day that includes a fun run, family activities, a parade, vendors and musical entertainment. As the grand finale, Western Display Fireworks, the oldest and largest aerial display company in the Northwest, will set off a 17-minute display from a barge on the Columbia River, a cost of about $35,000.

“It will be one of the premier events in this area for fireworks,” said Cochenour.

Ultimately, the Fourth wants to see another $18,000 spent on the festival and $7,000 for regional promotion. The plan, said Kirchhofer, is to get annual contributions from businesses, corporations, civic organizations and individuals to cover these expenses.

He told the council Monday that Fourth members estimated that $8,000 could be brought into the community by visitors the first year of the celebration. He said that number was likely to grow as people from around the region began to count on the annual event for their July 4th entertainment. “Something like this drives commerce and activity,” he said.

He said the Fourth needed to have verbal confirmation about any money the city was willing to provide by Feb 18, the date when reservations needed to be made for Western’s services.

For more information about how to get involved with the celebration, email fortdallesfourth@ or send a message via Facebook to “Fort Dalles Fourth.”


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