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Tenino, Washington
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Why Tenino, Washington is printing its own wooden money

Tenino, Washington. (Wikimedia Commons)

The town of Tenino, Washington, is helping its residents survive the coronavirus shutdown by printing its own wooden money.

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The Thurston County town printed its own money during the Great Depression, using a newspaper press built in the 1870s. Its current mayor, Wayne Fournier, spoke to KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show about how that strategy has been translated into the modern era.

“We wanted to do something to help people that have been affected [by COVID-19] and people that are out of work,” Fournier described. “So we fired up the same exact press from the late 1800s, and we have printed off wooden money once again.”

This comes as business in Tenino has slowed to a crawl, making for something of a “ghost town” in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

The town — with a population of just 1,800 people — put aside $10,000 for the project, printing the wooden money in $25 pieces.

People who have been affected by the pandemic can receive up to $300 a month in wooden money. They can then use it at grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, and other Tenino businesses.

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The city then reimburses the business. Fournier says it’s helping to rescue the local economy, while many businesses have already reported a slow trickle of wooden currency flowing in.

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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