December 19, 2017 Continuing the Legacy: 2017 League Conference Sees Another Year of Success
Nearly 200 people attended the League’s 2017 Conference, held November 2 in Moses Lake, for a day focused on Columbia Basin Project information and updates. In keeping with the theme of the event, many presentations included an acknowledgement of the people and the passion credited with “continuing the legacy” of the Project. Passion for the important work being done, whether in the field, on the canal, at the Office of the Columbia River, or in a Reclamation office was repeatedly cited for the progress being made. Keynote speaker, David Palumbo, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Deputy Commissioner of Operations, opened his comments stating that he was “not mistaken about where the work gets done.” He clarified that he knew it wasn’t in D.C., but rather on the ground.
In response to attendee feedback, this year marked a significant change in format with the event beginning in the morning rather than the afternoon. Additionally, the 2017 Conference was notable for unveiling of the League’s new brand and launch of its new film, Waiting for Water, which has exceeded over 10,000 views on social media in a little over a month.
Agenda items included updates from each of the three Project irrigation districts; an update on Potholes Supplemental Feed Route; information on Odessa Ground Water Replacement Program construction, funding, and bridges; a review of the last ten years of work at the Office of the Columbia River, a Columbia River Treaty update; and federal and state government affairs updates. Survey responses indicated that much was learned but the League needed to continue to regularly provide updates and information on these and other related topics. One survey response neatly summarized the messages of the Conference: “There are more reasons to expand the Columbia Basin Project than just crop benefit.”
The League’s annual meeting and presentation of awards immediately followed the conference updates and information. Current Board members whose terms were set to expire at the end of the year were re-elected to another three-year term: Kevin Lyle (Othello), Jake Wollman, Jr. (Warden), Chip Dobson (Mattawa), John Moody (Ephrata), Mark Booker (Othello), Mike LaPlant (Ephrata), Benjamin Leavitt (Warden), and Roger Hartwig (Ritzville). Additionally, League Chair, Kevin Lyle, acknowledged outgoing Board Members Milt Johnston (Ellensburg) and David Stevens (Wilson Creek) for their service.
Arlie Updegrave was presented an Honorary Life Membership for demonstrated support of the Columbia Basin Project. Well-known and respected in the Columbia Basin, Arlie moved to Moses Lake in 1952 and five years later he started Lad Irrigation with three partners. The company grew from one location in Moses Lake to three, including Othello and George in the 1980’s. Arlie sold his remaining share of the business through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan in 2007. He credited his employees with the success of the business.
Former Congressman Doc Hastings was presented with the Perseverance Award for demonstrated ability to carry on in support of the Columbia Basin Project, no matter the odds. The Congressman is also a League Honorary Member. He served in the Washington House of Representatives from 1979 to 1987, and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1995, retiring in 2015.
The 2018 Conference will be held in Moses Lake on Thursday, November 1, 2018.