- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 16, 2014

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - A division of the Port of Olympia has reversed course and voted to leave in place a program that provides economic assistance to area communities, at least through the end of the year.

In March, the Economic Development Corporation voted to end the small-city funding program, which provides $40,000 to four small communities, including Bucoda, Tenino, Rainier and Yelm.

But the board on Monday rescinded that vote after being told by Heather Burgess, a member of the port’s legal counsel, that the March vote was not in line with the agreement between the Economic Development Corporation and the four communities that receive the money, the Olympian reported (https://is.gd/r21JDW ). The program has been around since 2011.

The port has until the end of the year to assess the program and decide whether it should remain under the Economic Development Corporation. The port’s citizen advisory committee has recommended that the EDC continue the program.

Committee member Clydia Cuykendall supports the assistance because the money goes to communities that have less access to the port’s operations even though they still pay a property tax levy supporting the port.

Fellow committee member Richard Wolf disagreed, saying the program is a waste of taxpayer money. “The port creates economic development by growing the port’s operations,” he said.

At Monday night’s port commission meeting, which followed the Economic Development Corporation board meeting, Robert Whitlock of Olympia presented a petition that calls on the port to stop supporting hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The petition had more than 1,300 signatures.

The port imports ceramic proppants, or fracking sand, which is used to help remove oil and gas from deep shale fissures.

Michael Savoca of Rainier spoke out against fracking at the meeting.

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Information from: The Chronicle, https://www.chronline.com

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