OTHELLO — The Coulee Scenic Byway is going to get some kiosks to inform drivers along the way, thanks to some state and federal grants as well as private donations.
According to Ken Caylor, a long-time volunteer on the project, the 155-mile long byway, which stretches from Othello in the south to Omak in the north, will get five signs — in Othello, Warden, Soap Lake, Coulee City and between Grand Coulee and electric City — at a cost of about $95,000.
“I think we finally got to the point where we’re ready to go and get these installed either this fall or next spring,” Caylor told members of the Othello City Council on Monday.
Caylor said the signs — which he called kiosks — will all be installed at Bureau of Reclamation and irrigation district sites along the byway, and will let travelers know a little about the history of the landscape as well as sites of local interest. In Othello, that would be on Main Street in front of the Columbia Irrigation District offices.
Because of the promotional nature of the signs, Caylor said several of the other cities along the route have waived the permit fee.
“I don’t know if you want to waive the fee on this,” he told council members. “It’s your advertisement too.”
While there is no interest in extending the Coulee Scenic Byway — Othello will always be “the gateway to the Columbia Basin,” Caylor said — byway organizers have created a giant loop extending south and east through Connell, Kahlotus, Washtuchna and Benge, and then back west through Ralston and Lind to Warden.
“In the big city of Benge, all 10 people there didn’t seem to mind,” he said.
While the city council did not consider or vote on any measures related to the scenic byway proposal, Mayor Shawn Logan said the council was grateful for the update, since they support the efforts to promote the Coulee Scenic Byway with local motel and hotel taxes — which must be used to promote tourism.
“We want people to travel, and we want them to come through our city,” Logan said.