Port of Centralia dedicates Art Lehman Avenue, welcomes WinCo


On Thursday, June 20, the Port of Centralia held its dedication ceremony for Art Lehman Avenue at Centralia Station while construction crews continued work on the new WinCo Foods, which will anchor the new shopping center.

About 50 people were in attendance, including City of Centralia, Lewis County and Washington state officials, along with residents in the area and family members of Art Lehman.

“This is a very special day, not only is it the dedication of Art Lehman Avenue. It is Art Lehman’s birthday today, so happy birthday Art,” Port of Centralia Executive Director Kyle Heaton said to those in attendance.

One of the founding commissioners of the Port of Centralia, Art Lehman is also the second-longest serving commissioner, holding the position for 25 years. Additionally, he worked for the Centralia Water Department, the Washington state Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army during the Korean War.

He passed away on March 21, 2019.

“Art epitomizes everything you want in a local official. He was humble. He was more worried about the big vision of the port than the big vision of himself. That’s what he wanted to see,” Heaton said. “What you’re standing and looking at today was Art’s vision back in 2007 and 2008. He and Gene Groshong decided to push this forward. It’s taken a few years, but here we are today.”

Art Lehman’s son, James Lehman, was one of the family members in attendance. Although he was born and raised in Centralia, James’ career took him to Texas, but he would still visit often.

Every time he did visit, his father would take him out around the Port.

“Even though he retired as a commissioner in 2011, until his passing in 2019, every visit that I came back I got the opportunity to see this Port of Centralia grow,” James said. “So congratulations to all of you. I know this is exciting, and I know he would be very touched to have his name on a street, so thank you very much.”

Art’s daughter, Karen Groshong, spoke to the attendees next.

“My dad loved this community, and that’s why he continued to serve in the capacities that he has, and he’s left a real impact in my life and legacy for wanting to be involved in communities,” Groshong said.

Art Lehman Avenue connects Yew Street to the Interstate 5-Mellen Street exit, giving Centralia Station and WinCo direct access to the freeway.

WinCo is a warehouse-style supermarket chain that offers bulk food items and is open 24 hours a day. Port officials have long described WinCo as the anchor tenant for the development, with hopes that it will attract other businesses to the surrounding area.

An official date for the opening of the supermarket has not been announced.