Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Pioneer Association outlines center upgrade

A $165,000 grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce in 2019 allowed the Pioneer Community Association to begin tackling some much needed repairs to the Pioneer Community Center.

“It is good to remember how excited, relieved, and to some degree, flat out amazed we were to receive the grant award,” Suzanne Holmes wrote in a missive describing the activity that followed.

It started with a roof replacement. Weatherguard, Inc., arrived in September of 2020 and removed the old shingles and rotting decking, replacing them with new plywood sheathing and a 45-year asphalt shingle roof.

“For those living in Cathlamet, the operation was impressive to watch,” Holmes wrote. “The original telescopic boom brought in to tackle the very high steep roof wasn’t able to safely operate on the uneven, sloped surface around the center. They had to bring in the very impressive and more expensive Ultra Boom.”

Gutters were installed by 5-Star Gutters and Awnings, exterior repair was completed by TNJ General Contracting, and electrical work was done by Rawhide Electric.

Global Pacific Environmental painted the exterior.

“Many have asked why not a local contractor,” Holmes said. “The short answer is lead paint. When it was discovered, we were stopped dead in the water. Without the support and prompt actions of our local hometown hero, former Senator Dean Takko and his work to get supplemental funding for the project, we would not have been able to proceed.”

"Using state funds comes with requirements,” she continued. “In addition to paying prevailing wage rates, we needed to use a contractor that was certified through the Environmental Protection Agency to encapsulate the exposed lead paint surfaces. The list was short, and it didn’t include any local contractors.”

They felt lucky that Global Pacific Environmental of Vancouver was willing to travel to Cathlamet to do the job.

Next came Terra Firma Foundation Systems. They started digging around the basement, according to Holmes, where “no buried treasure was found, nor skeletons, but lots of water damage was.”

PCA members and local contractor Tim Hoven moved out the old kitchen cabinets, the moldy carpet, the damaged baseboards, and other items stored in the basement.

“I wish I could say the first visit from Terra Firma solved the water problem,” Holmes wrote, “but water is hard to control and they had to return in October to expand their trenching and install another sump pump.”

Holmes was pleased to report there were no water issues after the recent storm, but admits there is still more to do.

“We have a foot of funds left and a mile of work to go,” Holmes said. “The State of Washington provided the funding that saved the building, but it’s up to us, the residents of Cathlamet and Wahkiakum County to finish the job.”

Material costs have skyrocketed during the pandemic, she pointed out, and the budget developed for the project isn’t enough to handle those increases or the labor.

What’s left?

• Renovating the bathroom,

• Covering the basement floor,

• Installing beadboard wainscoting and painting,

• Installing kitchen cabinets and countertops,

• Repair/replace damaged wood and paint front staircase,

•Repair/replace a structural beam discovered during siding repairs.

The PCA is looking for help, whether it’s financial, or donated materials or labor.

“I can’t encourage you enough to roll up your sleeves and tackle a project,” Holmes wrote. “Or write a check. Or better yet, both! Let us know if you would like to join us for a work party.”

The PCA is also hoping to grow their membership, as well as find people willing to step into leadership roles, with two spots open on their board, and a need for a treasurer, a social media coordinator, and a special events/fundraising coordinator.

“We want to thank our outgoing treasurer, Paige Lake, for her years of service and excellent financial management,” Holmes wrote. “She leaves the books in good order and will be available for questions and help. She has been invaluable in working with the state and managing the Department of Commerce Grant and will continue to see it through to completion.”

Membership forms can be downloaded from the PCA website, and donations can be mailed to Pioneer Community Association, PO Box 24, Cathlamet, WA 98612. For more information, their email is

“Please consider joining the Pioneer Community Association and help to preserve the only building in Cathlamet on the National Register of Historic Places,” Holmes wrote. “It’s time once again to fill the Cathlamet Pioneer Center with people, voices, art, and music. Membership matters and we are looking for new ideas, energy, and broader and stronger community support to move forward.”


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