Steamboat remains docked in limbo

Jean awaits a fate that could bring it to Independence

INDEPENDENCE -- Steamboat Jean remains in limbo.

Which happens to be just outside Asotin, Wash.

No one knows what will happen to the 65-year-old steamboat.

Vern Wilson and Jeff Edwardsen of Lewiston, Idaho, want the boat. So does the City of Independence.

Wilson and Edwardsen have one advantage. They have Jean's pink slip. However, keeping it depends on coming up with a plan to move her out of Chief Lookingglass Marina in Asotin.

The Army Corps of Engineers owns the marina and wants the boat out of there.

Capt. Richard Chesbrough of the Willamette Queen in Salem wants to see Jean come to Independence. He came up with a step-by-step plan for getting the boat here.

Most of the plan involves volunteer labor.

Now it's a race.

Elmer Earl of Asotin holds most of the cards. He wants to see his beloved Jean stay local but also stay preserved. Wilson and Edwardsen offer the certainty of keeping the Jean near Asotin.

However, they have to foot the bill for moving Jean themselves. That amounts to more than $30,000 if done privately. There's no guarantee Wilson and Edwardsen might eventually sell her for scrap.

Independence offers the certainty of preservation. However, Jean and Elmer would have to endure a long-distance relationship.

The Corps of Engineers set an April 16 deadline for someone to move Jean. Engineers have since extended that deadline to give all concerned more time.

Chesbrough thinks Independence needs to be more aggressive. It could come down to who wants the boat the most, he said. "The City of Independence should take a strong stance at this point," he said.

Jean belongs back home in Oregon, Chesbrough said. She was built in Portland in 1938 _ named for the daughter of a Crown Zellerbach executive.

Until 1975, she towed logs and pushed barges loaded with wood chips, paper products and other cargo along the Lower Columbia and Willamette Rivers.

Chesbrough said he will do what he can to bring her home, but ultimately, Jean's fate rests with her adoptive state.

"Right now, it's in the hands of the people up in Washington."


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