Kelso mural design

Final design proposal for a mural in downtown Kelso.

On a narrow vote and a minor change, the Kelso City Council approved a mural that will be painted on an abutment of the Allen Street Bridge.

Mayor Nancy Malone and councilmen Jeffrey McAllister and Larry Alexander opposed the design and location, but they were outvoted.

“I’ve got to remind myself that in my efforts to empower kids I work with at my church or my own kids, some of what I have to do is give up control over what I want and recognize that other generations might have a different view,” Councilman David Futcher said.

Two members of the public said they opposed the proposed location on the bridge abutment along South Pacific Avenue.

Alexander proposed moving the mural to the Skate Park in East Kelso, from where it could be seen from the freeway.

“(That’s where) the kids who are designing it can enjoy it. That’s where most of the youth in our community tend to be,” he said.

Five local students, ages 18 to 22, designed the mural with artist Forest Wolf Kell as a representation of their experiences in Kelso.

Workforce SW Washington, with Urban Artworks of Seattle, is organizing the project with funding from Price Foundation grant and workforce development money, according to the city.

The council had final approval because the mural would be on city property. The council supported the final design on the condition that the Kelso School District logo on a school bus in the mural be changed to a city logo.

Kelso resident Rick Von Rock, who said he supported the design and location, recommended putting “We Are Kelso” there instead.

The council also paid tribute to Library Manager Cindy Schimpf, who died suddenly on Aug. 27. Council members, city staff and library coworkers remembered Schimpf’s warmth, passion, positivity, friendship and dedication to her job and community.

Following a moment of silence, Mayor Nancy Malone said, “Rest in peace, my friend.”

In other business, the council:

  • Allocated $20,000 in tourism dollars for the Highlander Festival, $67,000 for the Visitor Information Center and $100,000 to the city for Tam O’Shanter Park.
  • Approved a $265,000 contract with RH2 Engineering, Inc., for a water system plan update.
  • Approved $85,400 contract with FCS Group for a water, sewer and stormwater utility rate study for 2020 through 2026.
  • Approved a maintenance agreement with the state Department of Transportation to clean and inspect the Coweeman River Bridge in October. The initial cleaning will cost nearly $44,000 and then the five subsequent annual cleanings will total nearly $78,000, to be paid for with the City Street Fund.
  • Appointed Vanessa Davis of Super 8 Hotels to the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee to replace Syed Pasha, with Choice Hotels.
  • Supported an ordinance allowing a recreational marijuana shop in the downtown area roughly along Grade Street between Allen Street and Maple Street. An ordinance will come back to the council for two more readings.

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