Gilliam County jobs up in the dumps

| Print |  Email
Friday, May 01, 2009


ATSLandfillsChartGILLIAM COUNTY When the unemployment figures came out in March, 35 Oregon counties were stricken by double-digit rates. But in rural Gilliam County, where the population is just 1,868, unemployment was the fifth lowest in the state: 9.8%. It had the lowest rate the month before.

Every year since 1990, which is as long as the data is available, Gilliam has had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state.

The diversity of Gilliam’s economy is the reason why, says state senator Ted Ferrioli. Gilliam has strong wheat and cattle sales, a modestly growing tourism sector, and new wind farm developments. The county has a port and easy I-5 access, and the government is a source of stability as the second-largest employer.

And then there’s the dump.

Twenty years ago, the county persuaded Waste Management to build a dump in Arlington to process all of the solid waste from the Portland and Seattle metro areas, says Laura Pryor, who was county judge in Gilliam from 1987 to 2006. The solid waste dump is the largest in the state by far.

Waste Management also owns a chemical waste landfill in Arlington, which is the only hazardous waste disposal site in the Northwest. That dump has been there since the mid-1970s.

Today, the two facilities employ 150 people. Not all of those jobs are held by members of Gilliam’s 1,068-strong workforce, but the dump is the county’s largest employer. About another 70 locals are employed in trucking the waste, meaning the landfills directly and indirectly employ about 20% of Gilliam’s workforce.

The dumps have been stable employers as the county’s farming operations constricted, says Pryor.

Bryan Wilkins, the Arlington district manager at Waste Management, says the company has no plans for layoffs. But Gilliam could be in trouble about nine years from now, when Waste Management’s current contracts are up for renewal.

In 1990, Arlington had the only regulation-compliant solid-waste dump in the region. Now, Gilliam is surrounded by three facilities that will be fighting for Portland and Seattle’s trash, and it’s not looking good.

The fate of the dump may hinge on a barge dock that the Army Corps of Engineers says infringes on a treaty-protected tribal fishing site. Without the disputed dock, Gilliam is only accessible by rail and truck; neighboring counties have rail, truck and barge access.

“The battle we’re in with the Corps of Engineers and the Native Americans right now will tell the tale whether we have that third piece,” says Pryor. “If not, we won’t be on the same playing field.”

ADRIANNE JEFFRIES
 

Comments   

 
kaileb gilliam
0 #1 A Good Ideakaileb gilliam 2009-08-27 18:14:52
I think that the Gilliams should find some of there unemployed family and put in a good word for an easier life and to not look like a laughing stock.
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Reader Input: Energy Overload

June 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

We asked readers to weigh in on the fossil fuel-green energy equation.


Read more...

5 questions for ImpactFlow CEO Tyler Foreman

The Latest
Thursday, August 13, 2015
impactflowthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Portland-based startup ImpactFlow recently announced a $5.7 million funding round. CEO and co-founder Tyler Foreman talks about matching businesses with nonprofits, his time at Intel and the changing face of philanthropy.


Read more...

The Cover Story

Linda Baker
Thursday, August 27, 2015
01-cover-0915-thumbBY LINDA BAKER | EDITOR

How do you put a baby on the cover of a business magazine without it looking too cutesy?


Read more...

Back to School

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE

Oregon is home to an abundance of gritty warehouses reborn as trendy office spaces, as well as crafty hipsters turned entrepreneurs. Does the combination yield an equally bounteous office products sector? Not so much. Occupying the limited desk jockey space are Field Notes, a spinoff of Portland’s Draplin Design Company, and Schuttenworks, known for whittling Apple device stands. For a full complement of keyboard trays, docking stations and mouse pads, check out the GroveMade line, guaranteed to boost the cachet of even the lowliest cubicle drone. 


Read more...

Staffing Challenge

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with Greg Lambert, president of Mid Oregon Personnel Services.


Read more...

Wildcards

Guest Blog
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
072815fergusonthumbBY JASON NORRIS

Uncertainty in Greece and China, along with potential interest rate hikes mean investors are looking at the market and nervously questioning where they should be invested.


Read more...

Reader Input: Fair Play

May 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Former Governor John Kitzhaber's resignation in February prompted some soul searching in this state about ethical behavior in industry and government.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS