Caboose receives revamp thanks to county Transient Lodging Tax


“We are the only visitor center on Highway 101 with an ocean view in all of Oregon,” Kristine Hayes of the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce (RCOC) told the Board of County Commissioners during their Transient Lodging Tax (TLT) Success Series presentation on Dec. 20.

By Chelsea Yarnell
Guest Contributor

RCOC applied for and was awarded $72,118 for renovations on the Caboose and Train Depot in Rockaway Beach. “Someone had an idea to bring the caboose here,” Hayes said.

“It was a four-year process. They bought it for $14,000 at 3 percent interest – and paid the loan off in three years.”

The Caboose currently houses the Rockaway Beach Visitor Center on First Street. Of the money awarded, just over $26,000 was utilized for the remodel.

The funds allowed for the roof to be redone (for the first time since arriving in Rockaway Beach), rust was removed from the metal framing, new paint and lettering was added, painted decking was added, and part of the funds were used for Christmas Lights to decorate the Caboose in December. Hayes was able to find donors for an additional $20,000 in materials for the projects.

“Thousands and thousands of people stop by it each year and take pictures,” Hayes said. “My office is right across the highway so I get to see that.”

In the future, Hayes hopes that they will be able to update the power for the Caboose as well as improve the wood features inside.

Currently, the Caboose is open seven days a week with volunteers staffing two shifts during the summer months.

“It’s just great to see…projects like this come in and show us how that money gets spent and how it’s used in the communities,” Commissioner David Yamamoto said. “[It’s a] great example of what TLT is helping in our communities. It takes people like you to put those ideas on paper.”

Commissioner Tim Josi agreed: “There’s always somebody behind the scenes that make these things go and you’re the person behind this project. We all appreciate this especially the folks of Rockaway Beach. This is a real treasure.”

The TLT Grant Success Series, began on Sept. 27 after Tillamook County officials wanted to “improve our outreach to the community and raise awareness of all the great projects that have come out of the TLT facilities grants,” Chief of Staff Rachel Hagerty said.

Since fruition in 2013, the tax has brought in millions of dollars, with this year projected to be around $3 million.

Of the funds that come in from the TLT, 30 percent are allocated toward roads and 70 percent are split between tourism facilities and marketing and promotions projects.

Twenty-seven facility projects have received approval through the Transient Lodging Tax, totaling $1.9 million.

To see how the funds are being used, the Tillamook County Commissioners invite the public to attend presentations that will be held during their 10 a.m. meeting at the Tillamook County Courthouse.

The schedule of presenters can we found on the County’s website and posted at the Tillamook County Library.

The Tillamook Forest Heritage Trust and Port of Tillamook Bay is next on the docket for the Success Series. They will present the results of their Salmonberry Trail Planning and Project Manager on Jan. 24.

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