Pioneer Invests in Klamath, Kittitas Counties

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By: Jim Rosenberg

The Herald and News in Klamath Falls, Ore., plans to begin construction of a new office and production plant in August on a 23-acre hillside parcel that was purchased several years ago under former Publisher John Walker.

Directors at family-owned parent company Pioneer Newspapers in Seattle — which also is undertaking a major upgrade and expansion of press capacity for its Daily Record in Ellensburg, Wash. — decided on the site after considering an alternative location, across from the paper’s current Esplanade Avenue offices downtown.

The alternative site in downtown Klamath Falls is an unusual “Egyptian deco” structure erected on a triangular lot in 1929 as an automobile dealership. Although it would have required considerable work to be made suitable for newspaper operations, the building probably would have qualified the project for substantial tax incentives, as well as a listing on the National Register of Historic Places, Publisher Heidi Wright told E&P late last week.

The listing, however, carried the possibility of restrictions. The board’s decision to build at a greenfield site followed talks with two historic-preservation consultants, according to an account in last Friday’s edition of the Herald and News. Pioneer, it reported, has spent five years “frustrated by debate over a wetlands designation” affecting plans for its Skagit Valley Herald’s new plant in Mount Vernon, Wash.

Wright called the 75-year-old Balsiger Building “a great downtown asset,” and told her paper she hopes to see it occupied by another business, perhaps with the aid of her paper’s evaluation of the building.

The 16,532-circulation newspaper’s new, multimillion-dollar headquarters will provide more than double the amount of office space now available and a new press will be installed in the plant (E&P, Nov. 2004). The project is expected to be complete in late 2006.

Consulted for both the downtown and greenfield options, Dario Designs of Framingham, Mass., handled the master plan and has been selected for architectural and engineering services.

The south-central Oregon location means that both the downtown rehab and greenfield options not only must meet certain seismic requirements, but also that they would be able to exploit geothermal energy to reduce heating costs.

About a mile from downtown but within city limits, the greenfield site will require considerable excavation because it is a hillside, said Dario Designs President Dario DiMare.

Designed to resemble a cluster of farm buildings of the sort common in the area, the facility will consist of a plant, constructed of inexpensive metal and precast concrete, and offices in two Quonset huts. Each large “hut” is to join the plant on one side and have a large, semicircular glass wall on the other, through which occupants will be able to view Klamath Falls from one building and Mt. Shasta from the other, according to DiMare.

The huts will use the typical corrugated metal, but in two layers, with about a foot between for insulation and space to carry electrical wiring and other services. To resist seismic forces, he said, “if you get tough, rigid, deeply corrugated siding, and you bend it, there’s nothing better.”

Corrugation alone, DiMare explained, adds strength, but only in certain directions — for example, up and down a wall or across a flat roof. Add to that the strength of an arch, he continued, and the building should withstand stresses in any direction.

Almost 400 miles north, Pioneer’s Kittitas County Publishing Co. will upgrade and expand the Goss Community press that prints its 5,500-circulation Daily Record. As in Klamath Falls, groundwork for expansion in Kittitas County was begun under the previous publisher, in this case Bill Kunerth.

Announcing the decision of the Pioneer board last week, Publisher Steve Miller said the project, expected to be completed later this year, “means our printing plant will be better able to keep pace with our growing business and our growing community.”

The paper’s press now consists of six Community units. Three of the oldest, greased units from the 1960s, will be traded in to supplier Impressions Worldwide for rebuilt units with oil-bath lubrication, Pioneer President David R. Lord said yesterday. The remaining three will be rebuilt and refurbished, two additional rebuilt units will be added and a newer folder will be installed.

With eight units, the plant will be able to print more full color pages, and the upgrade should enable the crew to more easily maintain image quality, according to the Daily Record, which reported that a project schedule will be created after Miller consults this week with equipment contractors.

The project will require the press to be moved to another part of the building, next door to the Daily Record’s offices, in a former retail store. The newspaper company some time ago acquired and already had expanded into that building.

The structure is suitable for a press because it was built as machine shop, with a high ceiling and an all-concrete floor, part of which will be replaced with a heavier pad to support the press.

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