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Seattle/Western Wash. News Releases for Tue. Feb. 7 - 6:43 am
Mon. 02/06/23
Regional SkillsUSA Welding Competition Hosted by Kelso High School on February 8
Kelso Sch. Dist. - 02/06/23 2:21 PM

High demand. Skills gap. Critical need. These are just a few terms that describe the outlook of the welding workforce. With an average of 84,000 welding job openings each year, the American Welding Society projects we’ll need 336,000 new welding professionals by 2026. An increased focus on CTE (career and technical education) courses with pathways to the trades by area schools, like Kelso High School, aims to help.

Kelso High School is hosting the regional SkillsUSA Welding competition on Wednesday, February 8, from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Thirty-five students from eleven high schools will compete for a chance to move onto the state welding competition. Welding contestants will participate in a variety of timed activities designed to test their skills. Competition activities include a written test, measuring gauges, oxy-fuel and plasma arc cutting processes, flux core arc welding, gas metal arc welding, gas tungsten arc welding, and shielded metal arc welding. 

Industry experts will judge the competition and hand out medals for state-bound winners. Field reps will also be onsite to meet with student competitors during wait times. This is an opportunity for students to hear firsthand about future employment opportunities in the skilled and technical welding industry. 

Regional SkillsUSA Welding Competition
Wednesday, February 8, 2023
Kelso High School Welding Area
Competition: 2:00 – 5:00 pm, Awards 5:30 – 6:00 pm 



  • Battle Ground High School 
  • Centralia High School
  • Evergreen High School 
  • Fort Vancouver High School 
  • Ilwaco High School
  • Kalama High School
  • Kelso High School 
  • Napavine School District 
  • Prairie High School 
  • Washougal High School 
  • White Salmon High School



  • Dan Brown - Central Welding 
  • Jeff Erskine - United Association Local 26 
  • Paul Helenberg - Mayor of Castle Rock and retired pipe fitter
  • Tony Howard - Hoffman Construction
  • Cody Jones - JH Kelly
  • CJ Murray - Air Gas
  • David Pittsley - Lower Columbia College
  • Camaron Wilkenson - United Association Local 26 



  • Air Gas
  • Central Welding
  • CK Worldwide
  • Hoffman Construction Company
  • JH Kelly
  • United Association Local 26 
  • Washington Way Market
  • Weld.com


Kelso School District has a long-standing tradition of excellence in education.  The CTE program offers approximately 70 on-site courses and 7 off-campus courses in partnership with industry leaders. Students can earn dual credit in 31 CTE courses. In the area of welding, the district offers the opportunity to earn five welding certifications. Kelso School District’s mission is to prepare every student for living, learning, and achieving success as a citizen of our changing world.

Thu. 02/02/23
BLM waives day use fees in observance of Washington's Birthday
Bureau of Land Management Ore. & Wash. - 02/02/23 3:36 PM

REVISED STORY - CORRECTION: September fee-free day for National Public Lands Day is Sep. 23

PORTLAND, Ore, — In honor of George Washington’s birthday and to increase recreational access to public land, the Bureau of Land Management is waiving recreation standard amenity and day-use fees for visitors on Feb. 20, 2023. The BLM invites the public to visit the unique and diverse natural landscapes and visitor facilities on BLM-managed lands to celebrate the life of the first U.S. President George Washington.

This marks the second of the BLM’s fee-free days of 2023. Fee-free days refer to the waiver of standard amenity fees and day-use fees, such as visitor centers, picnic/day use areas, and National Conservation Lands units where fees are charged. Expanded amenity fees and other fees, like group day use, overnight camping, cabin rentals, and individual special recreation permits, will remain in effect unless the authorized officer determines it is appropriate to waive them.

BLM’s public lands offer spectacular beauty in the colder months. Find a map of BLM’s top recreation locations in the snow, rain, or ice here:

Winter recreation on public lands

Be prepared:

  • Know before you go. Check with local offices for current conditions, including closures and travel restrictions.
  • Make sure tires have adequate traction for road conditions.
  • Ensure that a friend or family member is aware of your adventure plans.
  • Ensure you have the 10 essentials before venturing out: navigation tools (map, GPS, personal locator beacon), headlamp, sun protection (sunglasses and sunscreen, especially against snow glare!), first aid kit, knife/gear repair kit, fire essentials (fire starter, matches, lighter, etc.), shelter (i.e., an emergency blanket that folds up extremely small), extra food, extra water (beyond the minimum expectation), and extra clothes (layer up!).

Recommendations on where to go with snow (NOTE: these locations may or may not have fees): 

  • Burns: Steens Mountain offers an array of winter recreation opportunities, including snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and skiing. Individual permits must be obtained through the Burns District Office.
  • Lakeview: Gerber Recreation Site is popular for ice fishing and open year-round for camping. The paved roads are not plowed but remain clear of snow most winters. Wood River Wetland offers hiking, dog walking, bird watching, hunting, and (when there’s enough snow) snowshoeing. Be aware that the parking area is not plowed in the winter, so parking is not always available.
  • Medford: Cross country skiing and snowshoeing are available at the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument and Table Mountain Winter Play Area.
  • Washington State: Split Rock Recreation Site at Palmer Lake offers ice fishing (or regular fishing if there is no ice). Visitors can also hike on the Similkameen Rail Trail from Oroville to the Enloe Dam or on the Cowiche Canyon Trail (where there is usually little to no snow). The Yakima River Canyon Recreation Site is a great location for winter camping. If winter is mild, the Juniper Dunes Off-Highway Vehicle Area is a good option for recreation, and if the winter is cold, the Fishtrap Recreation Area offers ice fishing and cross-country skiing.

Recommendations on where to go with little to no snow (NOTE: these locations may or may not have fees):  

  • Northwest Oregon: The West Eugene Wetlands offer disc golf, the Sandy Ridge Trail System offers mountain biking, Shotgun Creek Recreation Site is open to off-highway vehicles, and the Wildwood Recreation Site has an underwater salmon viewing chamber.
  • Medford: Sites such as the Upper and Lower Table Rocks, Cathedral Hills, and Mountain of the Rogue offer winter hiking and tend to be free of snow.

In 2023, BLM will waive recreation standard amenity and day use fees for visitors on: 

  • January 16 (Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.)
  • February 20 (Washington’s Birthday)
  • June 19 (Juneteenth National Independence Day)
  • August 4 (Great American Outdoors Day)
  • September 23 (National Public Lands Day)
  • November 11 (Veterans Day)

For more information about the BLM’s recreation fee program, please visit https: //www.blm.gov/programs/recreation/permits-and-fees.


The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.