State construction stop order eased up

Monday morning construction go underway on the Sunnyside High School. The multi-million-dollar project is considered essential construct under Governor Jay Inslee’s stop work orders. The two-story classroom building, and other construction is expected to be completed in three phases over the next two years.

SUNNYSIDE — Construction in the area started off with a bang in January with nine commercial projects slated to get underway.

Combined permits issued during Jan. and Feb. included 18 single family residences. The commercial permits included construction for medical offices, remodel jobs, and to a steel canopy for a hydro coder cover.

Then the coronavirus hit the state and nation. Social distancing was the new norm and Stay Home, Stay Healthy orders brought an end to gathering of 10 or more people – far fewer than any on a construction site of any size. All construction was deemed non-essential and ordered shut down.

As Governor Jay Inslee started issuing stop business orders in early March, city’s new construction permits dried up. A single commercial build permit was issued on March 19 and it became the only one recorded.

The single permit was for Tri-Ply Construction for a new processing facility valued at $1,450,000. But under the current circumstances when the build will begin is up in the air.

Last week, the Governor eased back his ban on new construction to designate essential work to continued , explaining

Inslee announced last week that some projects which are tied to essential industries, for example: agriculture, public purpose projects, such as schools and public housing projects. The governor’s latest decision was in part influenced by some of the trade unions.

“Now only essential building is being allowed to continue, according to the Governor’s order,” City Manager Martin Casey said Friday, April 10.

Monday, April 13 building sites started gearing back up, including the $24 million Sunnyside High School new construction and remodel project.

“Even though we had anticipated a slow-down in construction, it has been hard on the local economy,” Casey noted.

“We were fortunate that we were able to continue with our new water infiltration project,” he noted.

“We’re happy the Governor has allowed some construction to continue,” Casey remarked.

The majority of the new residential work was being done in the AHO addition, located off the Sunnyside Mabton Highway, is yet to resume.

Casey said the permit fees only amount to about three percent of the city’s budget.

The first three months evaluations amount to $5,764,797.

Julia Hart can be reached at 509-837-4500, ext. 123 or at

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