Winners of an essay contest for Marcy Kingsley's Cascade Locks middle school students were announced on Friday.
The contest, sponsored by the Hood River County Chamber of Commerce, posed the question "What is the 'Next Big Thing' that should come to Cascade Locks?"
First place went to Acacia Cannon, for her excellent essay on the advantages of creating a go-cart track in Cascade Locks for both kids and adults to enjoy.
The awards were given in a gathering of the class in the library at the middle school, with parents, teachers and the principal in attendance.
All 22 students in the class participated, with creative responses ranging from outlet malls to zoos to cafes as suggestions for adding fun, entertainment and activities to the community as the "next big thing."
Third-place winner Saul Castaneda proposed an amusement park, complete with rides, video arcade and a water park; while second-place winner Jade Perkins wrote about the advantages of adding a community garden near the retirement complex. Both Perkins and Castaneda received a gift certificate from Waucoma Bookstore in Hood River.
Acacia cited her own love of go-carts, commenting that, "Building go-carts with my dad made our relationship get closer," and she carefully weighed the pros and cons of her proposal and gave thoughtful consideration to the community and its needs, according to Kerry Cobb, chamber executive director.
An excited Acacia received a Flip camera as her first-prize award, and she promised to send the chamber a video of her class.
Two students who each wrote about their desire to have Taco Bell set up shop in Cascade Locks, Nick Harbaugh and Alex Munoz, inspired chamber member David Cobb to arrange for delivery of a Taco Bell lunch for the entire class during the presentation of awards.
The essays are available for the public to read at Waucoma Bookstore in Hood River, where the bookstore's owners have generously offered to display them during the month of March.
The Hood River County Chamber supports economic and tourism development for the region and provides promotional programs to its 425 members. As a countywide organization, it supports businesses, organizations and governmental agencies in Cascade Locks, Hood River, Parkdale, Odell, Pine Grove and Mount Hood.