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October 1, 2015     Cheney Free Press
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October 1, 2015
 

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CHENEY FREE PRESS Thursday, October 1,2015 Nearly 7 miles of track will be improved to handle grain, other loads By PAUL DELANEY Staff Reporter The railroad rebuild is underway and slowly stacks of rails and ties currently seen near the Cheney Rodeo Grounds will become the new and improved roadbed for the Eastern Washington Gateway Railroad. And by sometime in early 2016 the new rails will be Carrying shipments from Highline Grain's shuttle facility at Four Lakes - and beyond. The track being upgraded runs from the junction with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe in Cheney to the Geiger Spur, a distance of 6.9 miles, Josh Austin, area manager for contrac- tor, RailWorks, said. Money for the effort, about $7 mil- lion-plus, came from the Washington state transportation budget approved earlier this year by the legislature. "This project was a little unusual," Bob Westby, the Palouse Coulee City Railroad rail manager for the Wash- ington Department of Transportation, owners of the track, said. "We applied for a Tiger Grant a couple of years ago, we were not suc- cessful," Westby said. "This project got the attention of the Legislature and they were able to do partial funding." However the real money is coming from Highline Grain who is lending WSDOT money for the project, which the state will pay back over a period of years. Bullh By PAUL DELANEY Staff Reporter Finding one's niche in business that sets them apart is a challenge in and of itself. That hurdle can be eveh higher in the bar and restaurant indus- try, but Michael Ehrgott hopes he can carve him- self a slice of business with a simple plan be- hind the bar. Ehrgott recently re- branded a long-time bar in Four Lakes, Wash. - the Saddle Inn - and has re- opened it as the Bullhead Saloon and it's his beer tap rotation that he hopes will make some customers take notice of what the rest of the place has to offer. While the regular national brands can be found elsewhere, "We're hardly keeping any do- mestics on (tap)," Eh- rgott said. "We're run- ning a nice craft beer selection." Except that is for one handle with the iconic that many oldtim- ers grew up with. The Rainier brand has been reborn in Seattle - at its original location along Interstate 5 - and Eh- rgott wanted to be one of il illi "Highline Grain, being certainly not the only, but the primary ben- eficiary, they are fronting the project costs," Westby said. Highline will be reimbursed in this biennium 20 per- cent of the costs and future budgets will cover the remainder according to Westby. Extending the improvements to the Geiger Spur, which was opened in 2008 with state-of-the-art tracks, was a natural. "We've got a brand new section of railroad up on Geiger so it doesn't make any sense to stop at Highline," Westby said. There is more business than just grain shipments, especially in Airway Heights where a number of diversified industries could use rail, he said. As for the logistical side of the project, slowly, some 800 sections of Cheney and the Geiger Spur. Photo by Paul Delaney A Crane positions a 4,000-plus pound section of rail that will be part of the track upgrade taking place on the Eastern Washington Gateway Railroad between rail weighing 1.53 tons each - about 4,100 pounds - and 80 feet long, will be placed alongside the existing track. With most activity on the line at night, the track work will take place during the day. "We're going to keep the traffic open," Austin said. The upgrade ought to be finished by mid- December. The process to move the hefty rails first involves off-loading them from flatcars. From the stacks they are hoisted by crane to the middle of the current track and then placed on a series of rollers where a rail-mounted crane moves them to their final desti- nation. The sections are then welded and attached to new ties. "It will create less maintenance in the long run, (and) a heck of a lot smoother ride for that train," Austin said. The new rails will allow trains to travel slightly faster than they do now, but such a short route would preclude significantly faster speeds. "You can't get a lot of speed there, especially when they're coming down into the yard limit," Austin said. What the improvements will do is allow use by longer and heavier trains, primarily those of the BNSF, which will haul grain trains to their mainline in Cheney. From there they head to market. For now this is the extent of the improvements but Austin said in the future there is plenty additional oon opens in Four Photo by Paul Delaney Michael Ehrgott takes pride in a unique rotation of craft beers on tap in the new Bullhead Saloon in Four Lakes. Ehrgott was out of the bar business for 10 months he said until the former Saddle Inn became available. "I thought that might be a good spot; actually it's turned out to be a real good,spot," he said so he purchased the building. "Things have been great so far," Ehrgott said. "I think to conve- nience of the location, coming to and from Cheney; it's kind of a little hideaway." Open about two months now, The Bull- head has seen old cus- tomers return to see what's been done inside. Ehrgott is particularly proud of his new bar, built by Cheney resident Doug Wethintton. And while the season will soon force all busi- ness inside, come next spring and summer the Bullhead will have its outdoor beer garden, fire pit, covered patio and horseshoe pit in opera- tion. "It's probably one of the neatest things about this bar," Ehrgott said. Paul Delaney can be reached at pdelaney@chenevfreepress. com. the bars helping rekindle the brew. Great Micros owner Mick Akin is trying to help Ehrgott keep his rotation fresh and inter- esting with his seemingly endless array of brews from the region's many craft breweries. Ehrgott plans to have a "Frozen Mug Club" where patrons can up- grade from plain old pints to frosty steins to sample the brews. And while the taps will cater more to the taste buds of beer aficionados, those seeking to down a Bud- weiser, Miller or other familiar label can do so from a can or bottle. He also has a selection of hard alcohol. But that's hardly go- ing to make the Bullhead a success so Ehrgott has included some of the usual attractions found in bars like karaoke, triv- ia and food. He plans on homemade pizza, among other menu items as he ramps up the grub. Ehrgott is familiar to many in the area and has had his hand in the operation of establish- ments at Picnic Pines on Silver Lake, as well as the Wagon Wheel Tavern in Medical Lake. He got into the bar business in 2010. track and infrastructure in need of upgrades. The Cheney project is one of six Austin has going in the Northwest including around Warden and Moses Lake and in Montana. RailWorks specializes in short lines but they do specialty work for Class 1 lines like the BNSF, private lines, public and state - as is the case with the EW Gateway track owned by the Washington State Department of Transportation - as well as port districts, AuStin said the company is very busy right now but that's, "A very good thing coming into winter." Paul Delaney can be reached at pdelaney@cheneyfreepress.com. 1LD] '11 :t'I-1 .......... i i :i: iii iiii i;;i ! . Crafting and Scrapbooking Crops & Classes • Diecut Machines. Cutting Tools & Stamps available for use : • Scrapb()oking Supplies for Sale • Our Fadlity is available for private booking • Custom paper garlands. banners & cards can also be found at the COOP! • Dandles Candles, Herbal Soap and other gilt items for sale • Salvage Metal Letters 14915 W. Highway 2, Medical Lake, WA 99022 (1 mile east of Fairchild Air Force Base. 15 minutes from downtown Spokane) Michele Craft, Owner, 509-294-8693 "Like" 3 Craft Chicks on Facebook • craftchicksx3@yahoo.com Visit our b/o~ for all the latest news and events: 3craftchicks.b/ogspoLcom ee • ~ # # = ~ e • • e • ~ • • • • • • • e = ~ e e = = = e ~ ~ ~ e e Child rensChoiceDental.com WPCC breakfast at Shriner's Event Center The West Plains Chamber of Com- merce will have their membership break- fast Thursday, Oct. 8 from 7-8:30 a.m. at the Shriners Event Center, 7217 W. Westbow Ave. in Spokane. The guest speak- er is Steve Stevens, president and CEO of Greater Spokane Incor- porated. WSU Spokane is the sponsor of the month, and Inland Northwest Business Travel As- sociation is the table sponsor. Tickets are $18 for WPCC members and $30 for nonmembers. To register or for more information, visit westplainschamber. org, email community @westplainschamber. org or call (509) 747- 8480. TOMLINSON Pete Baccarella 509-953-4598 USAF Retired BIJY or SELL ? www.petebaccarella.com ~ ~ e-PRO@