Wahkiakum County commissioners handled a variety of business Tuesday ranging from a request for a variance to the no shooting regulations for the Elochoman Valley to the health of Wahkiakum 4H.
Extension Agent Carrie Backman said the 4H program is healthy and growing.
"When I started, enrollment was 44 kids," she said. "This year it's 98."
The program involves middle and high school age youth in a variety of learning and leadership training activities. At a recent 4H youth conference, there were more youth from Wahkiakum County than from King County (the state's largest), she said.
The program has benefitted from grants from Wahkiakum Community Network, she said, but those will expire next summer, and there is no funding for future grants.
"Thus my request for more county funding," she said.
"If we can do it, we will do it," said Commissioner Blair Brady.
Backman said the county budgeted $10,000 for the program this year, and she is asking for another $7,187. This will be matched by at least double in grants and fundraising, she said.
"This is a significant return on the county's investment," she said.
Commissioners are starting the process to develop budgets for 2013.
Longview resident Steve White asked the commissioners to consider granting a variance to the no shooting regulations for the Elochmaon Valley. A flock of geese have settled on the Don Wages farm, he said, and they are devouring his pastures. A state certified master hunter, he has offered to assist Wages to scatter the flock by hunting them during season, but the ordinance gets in the way. The ordinance allows landowners or renters to fire shotguns, .22 rifles or handguns on their property; it prohibits high powered rifles.
White said he could rent property from Wages, but he preferred seeing if the ordinance could be modified to allow guest hunters for depredation hunts.
County commissioners set up the ordinance about 10 years ago at the request of valley residents concerned about stray bullets flying around during elk hunts.
Commissioners were open to his request and said they and White both needed to talk to the prosecuting attorney to start the process for creating variances.
Commission Chair Dan Cothren said a public hearing would likely be necessary.
"Well see what the citizens want to do; it's their valley," he said.
By consensus, commissioners approved a recommendation from Deputy Auditor Karen Fleming to authorize the computer technology committee to negotiate a contract for connecting the county's system to a high speed fiber optic line.
The connection will result in a significant increase in the internet communication speed, she said.
The annual cost will increase from $7,300 to $9,100.
Commissioner Blair Brady noted that having a voice over internet should result in a savings in phone charges.
Fleming and Commissioner Lisa Marsyla, a tecnology committee member, agreed. It will also allow staff to do training sessions online.
"That will result in a huge savings in travel," Brady said.