CLATSKANIE, Oregon (STPNS) -- BREAKING THROUGH THE BANNER celebrating clean energy and good jobs for Oregon, a locomotive ?cut the ribbon? as it approached the new Cascade Grain ethanol plant at the Port Westward Energy Park north of Clatskanie Monday, as scores of Columbia County public officials looked on. City councils from throughout the county, as well as state economic development officials, and Columbia County Commissioners Tony Hyde and Rita Bernhard rode the train Monday along with officers of the Portland & Western Railroad, and its parent company, Genesee & Wyoming.
The round-trip, which started in Portland, but picked up passengers in Scappoose, St. Helens and Rainier, gave leaders of the communities through which the 110-car trains bringing corn to Cascade Grain will pass a chance to see Port Westward, experience the railroad, and learn about the plans to improve the track and ensure safety. Portland & Western officials also emphasized moving freight on the rail keeps more trucks off the roads, and the railroad is more energy efficent than any other form of land transportation.
Monday?s train carrying leaders from around the county was not one of the corn trains, but was much shorter - consisting of several luxury passenger cars. The first 110-car corn trained arrived at Port Westward in mid-April and another is due in a week or two. Chuck Carlson, president of Cascade Grain, said Monday that the ethanol plant is now in its testing phase and it is hoped to begin full production in June. Producing 113 million gallons per year, it will be the largest ethanol plant on the West Coast. Approximately 50 permanent workers are now employed at the plant, and a CO2 plant using a byproduct of the ethanol process to produce carbonation for beverages, etc., will add another approximately 30 jobs next year. Another byproduct of Cascade Grain will be livestock feed.
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