This is what we've been planning forThe dawn of 2005 finds the Columbia-Pacific region in a state of keen anticipation. This is the 200th anniversary of the year that Lewis and Clark reached the mouth of the Columbia River.

Will there be a flood of tourists? Will it be a bonanza for the tourism sector of our regional economy? We would not hazard a guess. The significant thing is that we are ready. The increase in the number of accommodations and restaurants over the past few years is considerable. The Fort Clatsop National Memorial and the Sunset Empire Transportation District have created new parking and transportation options. Designation of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Park creates a magnet of national proportions.

Beyond the economic impact of this national event, it will cause a wider reflection on the significance of Lewis and Clark's days in these parts.

The great benefit of occasions like the Bicentennial is that they force decisions and investment. All of what's been created for this year's events will make this place more exciting and attractive for year-around residents.

With or without a major influx of tourists, 2005 looks to be a good year in these parts, on a number of levels including the economic and the cultural. Astoria is coming of age.

The year will not be all roses. There is continued strain in living in a state that refuses to raise sufficient public revenue to pay for adequate infrastructure or services. That has forced lots of innovation. In some arenas, however, 15 years of disinvestment have taken institutions and programs down to the bone. We must continue to be resourceful, but we must also recognize that this downward spiral cannot continue.

It's an exciting time to reside in this region. Happy New Year!

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