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State and local officials near completion of Town Toyota Center vaccination site plan

WENATCHEE —A mass COVID-19 vaccination site will apparently open Tuesday at Town Toyota Center, a little more than a week after Gov. Jay Inslee announced the plan.

The Chelan-Douglas Health District and the state Department of Health have been in talks since the announcement that was part of a statewide effort to speed up COVID-19 vaccinations. It now appears the site will be open on Tuesday, Health District Administrator Luke Davies said. It sounds like it will be a soft rollout of maybe 400 people per day over the next week and things will start in earnest on Feb. 1.

People should not just drive up to the site to get vaccinated, Davies said. Call 1-800-525-0127 for vaccine information.

The Town Toyota Center will also serve Okanogan and Grant counties and is being run by the state National Guard, he said.

Even as the state Department of Health works to create state vaccination sites, getting vaccines remains a problem, Health Secretary Umair Shah said during a Thursday morning media briefing.

The state isn’t receiving enough vaccine doses to hit its target of 45,000 vaccinations a day, but it wants to have the infrastructure in place and ready for when that occurs.

“I don’t believe Washingtonians want, if all of a sudden two weeks from now the (Biden) administration says, ‘Hey we’re going to give you more vaccine,’ that we’re not ready to receive it and it takes us another couple of weeks to ramp up,” Shah said.

Local health officials and Town Toyota Center General Manager Mark Miller expressed surprise when Inslee announced the center would be a mass vaccination site on Monday.

The Town Toyota Center was identified as a site for distributing vaccines months ago, Shah said. It has been part of the state’s larger plan for mass vaccinations.

“And so these are not just snap the fingers and boom there you go, now you’ve got a mass vaccination site that’s identified,” he said. “It’s really careful planning that’s been months if not years (in the making).”

Lacy Fehrenbach, state Department of Health deputy secretary, said she’s been in contact with the Chelan-Douglas Health District to coordinate the logistics of the vaccination site.

State Epidemiologist Scott Lindquist also added that he personally called Chelan-Douglas Health Officer Dr. Malcolm Butler and Health Administrator Luke Davies and told them about Gov. Jay Inslee’s plans to start mass vaccinations.

Butler said in an email Thursday he did talk to Lindquist on Sunday and was told that somewhere in Wenatchee would be a vaccination site. When he heard Monday, after the governor’s announcement, it was the Town Toyota Center, he assumed that the state incident management team had coordinated with the event center. It turned out later they had not done so.

The important thing, though, is that people are going to start getting vaccinated, Butler said.

“We are in a war against this virus,” he said. “When HQ informs the troops in the field that supplies and reinforcements are inbound — we don’t ask too many questions. We express our heartfelt gratitude and head out to make it work.”


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SPORT Wenatchee looking to break ground in spring

WENATCHEE — Rooftop pickleball courts and lounge views of the Columbia River and Pybus Public Market. Batting cages. Golf simulator. Sports bar and restaurant. Gymnastics and martial arts room. Ninja course. Climbing walls. Trampolines.

The list of activities expected at a new entertainment center in Wenatchee is almost as long as the big slide that developers have in the works for SPORT Wenatchee, too.

“It’s basically a giant indoor playground for everyone,” said co-owner Taryn Harris.

Harris and her mother, Sue Harris, of SPORT Gymnastics, are co-owners of the project along with local developer Flint Hartwig and Wenatchee Applesox owner Jose Oglesby.

The ownership group is close to finalizing a $2 million purchase of three connected buildings from the Port of Chelan County. The property is located on the corner of Columbia Street and Orondo Avenue. Earlier this week, they launched social media sites promoting SPORT, which is tentatively planned to be open for business in spring 2022.

Hartwig expects construction costs to total roughly $14 million. Work repurposing the building is expected to begin spring 2021.

Hartwig approached Taryn and Sue Harris in late 2019 with the idea that Wenatchee needs a family entertainment center.

“I totally agree,” Taryn Harris said. “We’ve been doing everything we can but our facility (SPORT Gymnastics)is small and we can only get kids 11 and under so it’s a really small portion of our kiddos in the valley, and we’ve always wanted to really expand that to be able to do something for kids that are a little bit older and even more so for kids a little bit younger.”

She added, “We’ve been wanting to do something like this for so long because the community has just really needed a space like this.” Harris noted that older kids, particularly teenagers, are short on options in terms of things to do. Adults, too.

“With families who have kids of a bunch of different ages it’s really hard to take everybody out to do something — and what’s something for everybody?” Harris said. “And even date night in town, there’s just not very much to do.”

The center will be divided into several sections. The Adventure Zone, for ages seven and older, has most of the aforementioned features. Above the Adventure Zone will be a balcony dubbed The Donut where parents can have a drink and watch their kids play.

Another section, called the Play Zone, is targeted toward kids even younger.

“So that section will really be for them and really age appropriate, safe and soft and enclosed,” Harris said.

SPORT Gymnastics, currently located in an adjacent building at 10 S. Columbia St. will move across the street into the former Lineage Building, more than doubling its space. The center will also have a room for jiu jitsu training.

Hartwig hopes the center can act as a respite from online social circles and be a gathering place where people from different backgrounds can meet face-to-face.

“When you build these community-type places, like the farmers market, everybody shows up, everybody just kind of blends together and you start to open your eyes and realize that there’s a whole bunch of points of view,” Hartwig said.

Hartwig is hoping to draw additional investors, including a restaurateur.

“We expect this to be a very successful project,” Hartwig said.

Drawing on his experience with the Riverfront Rock Gym, of which he’s a hands-off, minority owner, Hartwig said it’s a successful business despite there only being 600 to 700 rock climbers in the area of roughly 100,000.

He thinks SPORT Wenatchee could reach a quarter of the local population, explaining the center should appeal to thousands of kids, as well as adults interested in the rooftop lounge, pickleball, restaurant, yoga, regulation-length batting cages or jiu jitsu.

The project is located within an area designated by the city of Wenatchee as an Opportunity Zone, which, he said,allows investors to reinvest money from recently sold stocks or property that would have been taken by a capital gains tax.

For more information, follow along at facebook.com/SPORTWenatchee, on Instagram @sportwenatchee, or at sportwenatchee.com.


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