WENATCHEE — When the wind picks up and it becomes a blustery day — that’s when Miketo Zook, Wenatchee, heads outside.
He picks up a few of the 15 kites he owns and heads for one of his favorite spots to get them in the air.
On Wednesday, that was a small knoll on the south end of Walla Walla Point Park. The wind hit the base of the hill and headed upward, creating perfect conditions to keep his kite aloft.
In minutes he put a stunt kite together, set it on the grass and walked two strings about 50 feet away. He looked over to an American flag fluttering in the distance, then felt a strong breeze hit the back of his hat. With a quick pull on the strings, the triangular kite went straight up — and fast. With a pull on the left string, the kite swooped to the left, held on a little longer, flipped over and around in a loop.
After years of practice, Zook can create impressive moves, even stopping it on a dime and dropping it in a perfect position on the ground, ready to go up again.
Zook has flown the maneuverable kites since 2007. “It’s an addiction,” he said.
New trees planted in the park have become a little bit of a hindrance for him.
“I’ve gotten really good at avoiding them,” he said. “There is so much control with these kites.”
Even so, while Zook flew on Wednesday, his kite hit one of the trees to his side with a sudden wind shift. He was able to pull it free and send it back in the air, then immediately send it on a loop and a spin.
“It’s just such a neat hobby,” he said.
WENATCHEE — RiverCom 911 has its sights to settle in the Confluence Technology Center next year, after its administrative board on Wednesday approved negotiating a lease agreement with the Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority.
RiverCom, the regional emergency dispatch center, needs to have a larger building for its slowly increasing staff numbers and technology systems, according to Lowell Porter, RiverCom executive director, who made a quick decision this week on its future.
Porter said he and his team were preparing to go into the RiverCom administrative board meeting with a side-by-side analysis for two locations in Douglas County and give a recommendation for which one to purchase.
But a last-minute offer from the port changed his recommendations. Porter said last week a Wenatchee World story prompted more requests to him from property owners who were interested in housing RiverCom 911.
One of those inquirers was from the port, offering to lease 20,000 square feet of space in the Confluence Technology Center for a negotiated price. More space could be added as some tenants are expected to leave, Porter said. Rivercom currently has 8,400 square feet on the third floor of the Wenatchee Police Department.
Porter said negotiations just began, but since the center plans to lease a very large space long-term, there was room to negotiate down the price.
“This just flew out of the sky,” said Porter. “It was compelling.”
He said his team looked for buildings in the valley that could support the technological needs and room to expand over the years before looking into property to build a new building.
Porter said that building a new facility, along with purchasing the property, would have cost around $15.8 million and moving wouldn’t be until late 2025 or early 2026.
Porter said around $4.6 million is needed for technological upgrades and remodeling to move into the CTC in about 8-11 months.
To pay for the new dispatch center, Porter said RiverCom has just over $10 million in capital reserves. As a multi-jurisdictional organization, RiverCom receives its funds from Wenatchee, East Wenatchee, Chelan and Douglas counties.
“We can do this whole thing and be our own bank,” he said.
Porter said if the board went forward with one of the two Douglas County properties, a bond would be needed.
“We were going to have to bond,” Porter said. “We were going to have to figure out how to get the two cities and the two counties to work together to figure out that finance part.”
Porter said he and the port are looking at a 20-year lease, with a renewal option.
“People are going to say, ‘Lowell, you will still have a lease payment,’” he said.
But Porter said the lease payments would not be as expensive as purchasing land and building a new facility. And there would be no debt.
Porter said the building passed three main criteria for the new dispatch center:
“The CTC meets and exceeds all of our needs,” Porter said. “Within a year, RiverCom will be in a brand new state-of-the-art public safety answering point.”
Gabriel Garcia: (509) 661-5210
MALAGA — Microsoft Corporation filed permits in Chelan County for three buildings in Malaga, another move for the tech giant’s future.
Chelan-Douglas Regional Port Authority commissioners and staff discussed Microsoft, the filing and its reimbursable agreement for Malaga Water District work at the Tuesday board meeting. Jim Kuntz, port CEO, said the filing was “good news.”
“(The permit application) lays out everything they want to do,” Kuntz said. “Three buildings, each building 250,000 square feet.”
The three proposed buildings, or future data centers, will sit on 105 acres off of Malaga Alcoa Highway. Each building is slated to house an administrative area with data halls for “climatized storage of computer servers,” the application stated. A loading dock, employee parking, private on-site water storage tanks and exterior equipment yards were also listed in the application.
According to the application, construction is anticipated to start in 2023 for the first data center building and span 18 months. The other two data centers’ construction will be underway “as market demands warrant in a similar duration.” Work, such as site grading for the planned switchyard and transmission line construction, is expected to start in spring 2023 and last six months, according to the application.
The port is gearing to kickstart its $2.3 million water line extension work for the Malaga Water District system improvements in June, with a construction contract awarded. According to Stacie de Mestre, port public works and capital projects manager, the 5,000-foot-long, 18-inch water line is anticipated to be completed by late October — which is in line with the reimbursable agreement the port is in with Microsoft for Phase 1 of the system improvements.
Microsoft is in a reimbursement agreement with the port for necessary water improvements in the Malaga Water District to accommodate the incoming Microsoft data center site and expected growth in the area. The port signs the checks for the improvements and Microsoft reimburses the port.
Kalie Worthen: (509) 661-6372
on Twitter @KalieWorthen