NCW — Chelan County PUD’s Rocky Reach Discovery Center renovation is well on its way, with 50% of the project complete.

The PUD projects it will reopen the center at Rocky Reach Dam, about 9 miles north of Wenatchee on Highway 97A, by mid-August.

Crews worked on installing drywall, welding the roof and the mechanical and electrical rough-in this week. The PUD originally planned to finish work on the building in May, but COVID-19 affected the supply of material.

According to the PUD, new additions to the popular center include large windows for close-up fish viewing, hands-on displays, three mini-theaters, a gift shop, a kitchen area, outside deck and a larger overall exhibit.

Windows in the fish viewing room have been lowered for children to get a better view, free of obstacles. Visitors large and small will be able to go right up to the window.

Workers on the new roof are installing translucent polycarbonate to let light in. The 471-square-foot open-air deck on the second story will have balcony seating for visitors.

The new Discovery Center building will be 11,523 square feet, up from its previous size of 9,076 square feet.

Crews put up sheetrock last week for The Living River exhibit room. The new exhibit room will feature local history topics from along the Columbia River.

Pacific Studio in Seattle is crafting new displays and exhibits for the center. A few returning items include the steamship wheel, wood canoe and tule house. Tule houses are living areas which Native Americans along the Columbia River used to make out of reed.

A wheel next to the steamship lets visitors guide the boat using a video display and the canoe will be lowered into the center through a skylight.

“This is going to be a five-star Discovery Center,” said visitor services manager Debbie Gallaher in the PUD update. “When kids come in, you’re going to hear, ‘Let’s go here! Let’s go downstairs! Let’s go outside!”

The upgrades are the first major improvements to the center since the 1960s and have been underway since October. The center will be open year-round.

The center’s new hours, when it reopens, will be from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., open daily May 1 through Oct. 31. The same hours will be retained Nov. 1 through April 30 on a Tuesday-Saturday schedule.

The PUD previously had closed the center from Nov. 1 through Feb. 28. The Rocky Reach Park will still remain closed from Nov. 1 through Feb. 28.

The Discovery Center employs a manager, education specialist, three custodial workers, and two seasonal tour guides.

The PUD listed the total cost of the project to be $7.7 million.

Luke Hollister: 665-1172 or

on Twitter @lukeholli