Lektro says it will double its workforce in WarrentonA loan for $2.59 million to expand the Lektro manufacturing facility at the Astoria Regional Airport in Warremton was approved by the Port of Astoria commissioners at their monthly meeting Tuesday evening, as was a loan and grant to build a water tank and relocate a fuel tank at the airport.

The loan and the loan/grant, both from the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department, will allow Lektro to add 22,000 square feet to its aviation tug-making facility.

"It's really going to allow us to be ready for the future," said Lektro Chief Financial Officer Shawn Rietman, who added that the company hoped to double the number of people it employs, which is currently about 50.

The water tank at the airport is required because of fire restrictions, and Rietman said he hopes that it allows other businesses, perhaps complementary to Lektro, to begin development at the airport's Warrenton site.

The water tank and the relocated fuel tank will be funded by a $440,000 grant and a $300,210 loan; the port will repay the loan from increased water charges and airport fuel sales. The $2.59 million loan will be paid back over 25 years, covered by increases to Lektro's rent.

At Tuesday's meeting, the port commission also voted to approve a funding contract with the OECDD, under which the state will pay for three-quarters of the cost of dredging the East Mooring Basin. Dredging could increase its capacity, but the port hadn't been able to do so because DDT contamination in the area made it too pricey. The money will now come from the Marine Navigation Improvement Fund.

As Bornstein Seafoods gets ready to build its new facility between piers 1 and 2 at the Port, port commissioners decided to hire Bergerson Construction to repair the bulkhead and build a dock at the site without sending the project out for a public bidding process.

"We actually think going with Bergeson will save us money," said Howard Clarke, project manager. Because the design and permitting phase took longer than expected, the port won't have time to complete both the bidding process and construction before the end of the in-water work period, Clarke said. In addition, Bergeson is the only company in the area that can do the work, lowering the mobilization costs.

The port commission also approved the use of a construction manager and general contractor, who will oversee the Bornstein project from the design phase through the completion of the building. While the port will ask for proposals from contractors, it won't be obliged to go with the lowest cost option.

And as new buildings go up at the port over the next year, one building will simply change places. Port commissioners authorized the sale of the "green building" to Columbia Pacific Marine Works. Columbia Pacific, which currently leases the building on the east side of the port, is planning to relocate to Pier 3, on the west side of the port.

Because of the cost to the port of tearing down the building to make room for additional parking and a new road, and the cost to Columbia Pacific of building a new facility on the west side, it is cheaper to move the existing building, port Executive Director Peter Gearin told the commission.

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