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Associate Painters opens Spokane Airport hangar

Rod Friese, center, tells his wife, Dawn, right, of Associated Painters, and Skip Davis and the crowd “Let’s celebrate” Thursday at Spokane Airport.  (Dan Pelle)
Rod Friese, center, tells his wife, Dawn, right, of Associated Painters, and Skip Davis and the crowd “Let’s celebrate” Thursday at Spokane Airport. (Dan Pelle)

The first airplane to be stripped and repainted by Associated Painters Inc. in Spokane will be rolled into its new 41,000-square-foot hangar this morning.

The building was dedicated Thursday by co-owners Rod and Dawn Friese, and airport and government officials said the $5 million facility and nearby Jet Tech Aerospace hangar are assets attracting the attention of other aerospace service companies.

Rod Friese said the morning arrival of a CL-215 “Super Scooper” used to fight forest fires will be followed later in the day by a CRJ-700 jet operated by Air Canada Jazz.

A team of 23 employees will have the two planes on their way in eight days, he said after dedication of the hangar at Spokane International Airport.

He said he expects business booking will justify a doubling of the work force by year-end.

The next plane in line is a Boeing Co. corporate jet, “a very high-end paint job,” Friese said.

AP is based in Everett, Wash., but leases its painting facility there, as well as two others in Oklahoma and Arizona. The company will own its hangar in Spokane, which could eventually become the business and family headquarters, said Friese, who added that the project would not have come together without $4 million-plus in loans and other assistance from the state.

Garco Construction was the contractor for the project

Even more coffee at truck stop

Pilot Travel Centers, the Knoxville, Tenn., company that acquired Flying J truck stops last year, is spending about $250,000 on a major upgrade of its Interstate 90 location at Post Falls.

Pilot plans to spend $150 million to $200 million nationwide remodeling 154 Flying J travel stops.

The Post Falls project has two phases, with phase one nearly finished, said Blaine Colwell, the center’s general manager.

Coffee has always been a major focus for Pilot; the remodel added five new dispensers for brewed coffee, Colwell said. The Post Falls center also switched from a three-head cappuccino maker to a 10-head machine, he added.

Other changes include an expanded deli-prep area, upgraded drivers’ showers, a remodeled driver lounge with new HD screen, a redone restroom area, new retail area walls and a canopy covering the diesel pumps.

Phase two will start next month and finish later this year. The adjoining Thad’s sit-down eatery will become a Denny’s in January, Colwell said.

New Thai Bamboo planned

Work has begun on a 9,000-square-foot Thai Bamboo at 5406 N. Division that will replace the restaurant’s present operation two blocks south.

Owner Tom Burgess said the new building will include Las Vegas-style decorations that have been well-received at the Coeur d’Alene location that opened in 2008. There are three Thai Bamboo restaurants in Spokane.

Burgess said the main dining area and adjacent Coconut Lounge can be opened up to create one large space, but each will have its own patio with tropical landscaping. A separate meeting room will accommodate 45.

He said 3,000 square feet of attached retail space has been pre-leased to Sunny Buns Tanning Salon and Spa.

The new location should be open in March, he said.

Spokane firm to upgrade dock

Wesslen Construction of Spokane has won a nearly $1 million contract from the National Park Service to upgrade the Stehekin landing on Lake Chelan.

Owner Jerry Wesslen said the work will entail reconstruction and expansion of the existing dock to provide universal access at the landing. The Park Service is spending more than $2 million this year to improve the services and facilities at Stehekin, which is located at the lake’s north end.

The popular Rainbow Mist Trail is also being upgraded to provide universal access to the park’s Rainbow Falls.

Seven firms bid on the job. Wesslen has a history of doing marine projects in remote areas. A recent project was the Agnes Creek Bridge reconstruction.

Wesslen said construction will start in February, with completion expected in May.

WSU adding student housing

Three Washington State University student housing halls in Pullman are scheduled for renovation within the next few years, with total cost estimated at $54 million.

Construction will start on Duncan-Dunn and Community halls in May 2011, and on Waller Hall in May 2012.

Duncan-Dunn and Community halls will have about 250 beds and will cost $21.6 million. They will be completed in July 2012. Waller Hall will have 290 to 305 beds, cost $32.6 million and be done in July 2013.

The projects were approved by the WSU board of regents last week.

WSU also is moving forward with plans for a 120- to 150-room Embassy Suites hotel near the Student Recreation Center. Embassy Suites is a division of Hilton Hotels and Resorts.

Reporter Tom Sowa and the Moscow-Pullman Daily News contributed to this report. Here’s the Dirt is a weekly report on development and business changes in the Inland Northwest. E-mail or call (509) 459-5528.


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