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Granger possible site for mini-hydro races

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Miniature hydroplanes race around the Granger Hisey Park pond recently, testing the waters for a future competition.

GRANGER - Imagine the Granger pond at Hisey Park becoming the next Columbia Cup of sorts.

These hydroplanes, though, would be about 1/8 the size of an actual, regular size boat. The boats in question stretch four-feet long and are two-feet wide, capable of hitting speeds up to 70 miles per hour.

A representative of the Radio/Controlled Unlimiteds (R/CU) Association out of the Tri-Cities was in Granger Sunday, July 17, to explore the possibility of making the Lower Valley town one of the stops on its competitive tour.

"It was fantastic," said R/CU Treasurer Chester Lepinski of his stop in Granger.

Lepinski said the R/CU Club was formed in 1974 and has members from across the state. In all, he said, there are 83 members who have about 132 boats on the roster. The club holds races across the state.

"We are always looking for race sites," said Lepinski.

Lepinski said he had stopped in Granger before, about four years ago, with his son, looking at various sites.

One of the reasons for the stop in Granger is that the R/CU Club is looking for a site that is more affordable. Lepinski said on the west side of the state, the club is charged quite a bit of money to hold a race at different locations. Lepinski said finding a location that would be less expensive for the club would not only benefit members, but it would help bolster tourism in Granger.

Lepinski said the R/CU Club will be looking further into working out details with the City of Granger about holding a race or two in the community next year. Lepinski said there are some minor changes that have to be made to the grounds for the club to be able to hold one of its races at the Granger pond. One of the improvements that needs to be made is placing more gravel around the shoreline where the boats are launched. Lepinski said a racer needs to be able to walk into the water along the edge without falling into the pond to launch a boat. The other consideration for holding a race in Granger is something as simple as cleaning up the shoreline area.

Lepinski said he likes the fact that there is a hill at the Granger pond where onlookers can stand to watch the races.

The races are usually held over the weekend. Lepinski said it is a very family-oriented atmosphere. He said there is no smoking or drinking allowed in the pits.

He said the races would also benefit Granger economically, as up to 95 percent of the participants would be needing a hotel in the area to stay at. Others would be using local stores and restaurants.

Lepinski said he is excited about the possibility of bringing the races to Granger.

"The city seems to want us there," he said.

Granger Public Works Director Jack Burnes is excited about the possibility of bringing the club races to the pond.

"We are really optimistic it is going to happen next year," said Burnes.

Burnes said he will be meeting with another club official in the next week to talk more about what is needed to hold one of the club races in Granger.

"It would be a really great weekend event for Granger," said Burnes.

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