Sunshine workers help build Indian fishing bridge

Sunshine Industries last week finished producing the forms to build a bridge to allow Indians fishing access between Hood River and Cascade Locks in the Columbia Gorge, about 50 miles east of Portland.

The $8 million U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project, called the Wyeth Columbia River Treaty Fishing Access Site, is expected to be finished in late summer 2011. A ground-breaking ceremony attended by members of the Warm Springs, Yakima, Umatilla and Nez Perce tribes was held on May 27.

The project develops a new fishing area to mitigate the loss of tribal fishing sites decades ago from the construction of the Bonneville Dam.

The project includes a bridge over Union Pacific Railroad tracks, marine structures, vault toilets and campground facilities.

After signing treaties in the 1850s, the Columbia River tribes were guaranteed their rights to fish at their usual fishing grounds along the river and its tributaries.

Sunshine Woodshop Supervisor Curtis Welch said the forms will be used for the bridge along a footpath leading to the river.

“They sent in the raw materials, two-by-fours and different thickness of plywood,” Welch said. About eight Sunshine clients helped turn them into forms for concrete. They also cut 2×12 and 4×4 support beams to required sizes.

“These guys did a good job,” Welch said.

“Hard job, lifting wood,” said Chad Schroeder, who worked on the project. It was worth it though, he said, “because it’s mostly helped someone make something they need. We did it because we helped people out.”

Sunshine had three to four weeks to get the job finished, Welch said. “They actually got it done with four to five days to spare.”

Sunshine produced 116 forms in addition to boards cut to length at a piece-work rate.

This job was a little unusual for Sunshine, Welch said. The organization’s woodshop work varies, but most often, it produces wedges of all sizes for railroad shipping.

Working on the project were Schroeder, James Babbitt, Tony Miner, Bob Miner, Angel Williams, Opal Evans, Toby Billings, Freddie Bratton and Jerry Dohn. They were joined by volunteer Bill Cockrell.

Sunshine Industries is planning to take the workers on a field trip to the site after it’s completed, said Executive Director Roseanne Lupoli.

Sunshine Industries currently serves 61 clients. It provides vocational services to developmentally challenged individuals. In addition to providing employment opportunities, Sunshine also provides social activities to its clients.

For more information about Sunshine Industries, call (541) 367-2765.