CASTLE ROCK — A nonprofit organization that promotes local businesses, events and tourism held its first meeting in two years Monday to a packed house inside the town’s elementary school cafeteria.
The Castle Rock Community Development Alliance was formed approximately 17 years ago as part of a marketing plan for the town and is led by Castle Rock Mayor Paul Helenberg.
Speakers at the two-hour meeting said the alliance’s plan worked. Nearly a decade ago, about 39% of downtown storefronts were empty, while only about 1% are empty today., said Alliance Vice President Mike Vorse.
Dozens of representatives from local businesses and organizations shared updates at the meeting.
The owner of a Hawaiian barbecue restaurant called NW Sunshine, which was formerly located in The Merk in Longview, is looking to open a storefront on Front Avenue Northwest next to the Pastime Saloon, according to Vorse’s presentation at the meeting. An opening date has not been announced.
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Vorse said Castle Rock Bakery near Huntington Avenue is set to reopen in April after a new owner took over the business from Shelley Martin, who retired this summer after owning the bakery for about 18 years.
Fiber Federal Credit Union on Front Avenue Southwest has installed an ATM with the ability to cash checks and make withdrawals and deposits with a virtual branch employee, according to the Community Engagement Coordinator and business education, Bailey Roberts. The service is available on Saturdays, when the branch is closed, she added.
The Castle Rock Fair is set to return for the first time in two years from July 14-16, and event organizers are looking for volunteers.
Volunteers are also needed at the Mt. St. Helens Motorcycle Club. A club representative said the group was rebuilding the grandstand at the organization’s track, which hosts flat-track motorcycle racing to the west of the town center near Fair Lane.
The Castle Rock CARE Coalition is looking for people to join a lunch with students mentorship program and can be contacted at email@example.com. CARE stands for Community for Action, Response and Empowerment.
Val Halleck-Tinney of the North County Recreational Association — the nonprofit that runs the sports complex near West Side Highway — said the organization needed a $20,000 lawn mower. The resort’s Facebook page is facebook.com/pages/North-County-Sports-Complex.
The Castle Rock Senior Center on Second Avenue Southwest plans to restart its hot meal program, President Alice Carrick said. The organization offers bunco on Mondays; two-story pinochle on Tuesdays; single-storey pinochle on Thursdays; and bingo on Saturdays, according to its Facebook page.
The alliance had total assets of $47,731 at the end of 2021, according to a statement presented at the meeting. Castle Rock Blooms — the organization that has been nationally recognized for the flowers they plant in the city — has nearly $18,000 in funds and the Festival of Lights has $21,000.
The alliance holds two annual holiday events: the Festival of Lights in December and the Halloween Jamboree in October. The jamboree helps pay for city banners to promote the events, said Castle Rock Blooms coordinator Nancy Chennault.
The alliance became a non-profit organization in 2015. Alliance donations purchased the Castle Rock sign and water feature at the south end of town.
The organization has also taken over management of the Castle Rock visitor center under a contract approved by the town last week. Vorse said he hopes the center can open by Memorial Day, after being closed during the pandemic.