When I went to Gunderson Marine's launch of a 2,000 ton barge in November, I didn't know I would be assigned to form and lead the Office of Healthy Working Rivers. I just thought it would be fun seeing a barge slide sideways from its building pad into the Willamette. And it was! Tom Sass of Gunderson Marine, and his wife, told me many interesting things, and helped me get a good view of the launch. I learned a barge is a "vessel", not a "ship" or a "boat", because it doesn't have any means of propulsion.
Photo by Gunderson Marine
I was also informed that barges like this one have price tags of $15m to $30m, and they're made with steel from local companies so much of that money supports Portland's economy. Workers can apply for well-paying jobs as welders and other construction skills without prior experience, in some jobs without even a high school diploma. And Gunderson's is booked with orders, five years out. All very impressive. And as it turned out, a good preview to issues I will be covering as Commissioner in charge of achieving healthy, working Willamette and Columbia rivers. I plan to attend future launches, to thank the buyers for spending their money in Portland, and the workers for producing such a quality product. And to watch the splash.