2013 in review
December 31, 2013
Mike Backman joins the Wahkiakum County Board of Commissioners. With erosion threatening the Steamboat Slough dike that protects the Hansen National Wildlife Refuge, US Fish and Wildlife, Army Corps of Engineers, Diking District 4 continue negotiating conditions for a setback dike and breaching of the existing dike. The Christmas Bird Count identifies a record 122 species in the county. King County police officer Steve Marshall becomes Wahkiakum County Undersheriff. Wahkiakum PUD abandons monthly meetings in western Wahkiakum County and plans quarterly meetings instead. US Fish and Wildlife Service announces plans to relocate white-tail deer from Hansen refuge to Ridgefield NWR to preserve deer population in case Steamboat Slough dike fails and refuge is flooded before setback dike is completed.
Wahkiakum PUD's new $2.5 million Cathlamet substation goes into operation. Korean War veteran William Wuorinen receives Silver Star medal mistakenly withheld years ago. Appelo Archive Center opens café and gift shop. Naselle/Grays River Valley School District building bond issue fails to pass. Wahkiakum Mule wrestlers Mason Mackey and Alex Johnson place fourth in their weight classes in state wrestling meet. Town council approves use of Erickson Park space for food bank.
Mule boys basketball team places third in state Class 2B tournament. Gillnetters sue state to stop new rules pushing them into side channels of the Columbia. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announces plan to locate chinook salmon rearing pens off Cathlamet dock to supplement side channel catch for gillnetters. Sixteen Irish wolfhounds march in St. Patrick Day Parade, surpassing totals marching in Seattle and Portland parades. Washington Department of Ecology appeals Superior Court decision favoring Wahkiakum County in suit to overturn county's ordinance regulation the application of biosolids. Wahkiakum County and the County Fair Board begin working on arrangement and job description for a county fair manager. Federal agencies and diking district officials near agreement on setback dike as US Fish and Wildlife begins trapping and relocating white-tail deer from the refuge and Puget Island. Port 1 reaches agreement with Drop Anchor Brewery LLC to construct a building for a micro brewery. Wahkiakum County commissioners review names submitted for the county's new ferry and chose "Oscar B." after Oscar Bergseng who owned and operated the current ferry before selling it to the county in 1961. Cathlamet resident Margaret Burt celebrates her 105th birthday.
County commissioners start meetings on a possible ordinance to regulate junk vehicles. Citizens attending meetings in Rosburg and Cathlamet support the concept, with provisions to respect property rights. The issue was later referred to a committee. County officials are shocked when call for bids for a new ferry draws only one bidder, who comes in at double the estimated cost.
County, diking district officials balk at setback levy plans, stalling deal and start of construction. A fair manager is hired but resigns when fair board retains authority for hiring other employees. Hannah Booth Watts is appointed to fill a vacancy on the Cathlamet Town Council created by the resignation of Steven McNicholas. Wahkiakum Mules Nathan Cothren and Lars Blix and Naselle Comets Chandler Chapman and Jake Condon medal at state Class 2B Track and Field Meet. Wahkiakum Mule golfers Brysen Coleman, Austin Good, Zach Calvert, Bubba Calvert, Bradley Peek and Elliott Haney place fifth in state meet. Patty Dursteler is named manager of the Wahkiakum County fair. County officials begin consideration of Rosedale site for public housing project.
Puget Island resident Barbara Strauss and her black lab, Kite, qualify for Master Nationals. Fire District 4 celebrates the opening of a new station in the Elochoman Valley. Members of the Chinook Tribe travel the Columbia River by canoe and hold first salmon ceremony at Chinook Point. Cathlamet Woman's Club honors Wally Wright as the man of the year, recognizing his service as a fire fighter, emergency responder, and member of the town council. Town of Cathlamet offers lead role in redeveloping sewer lagoon site to Port District 1. Cathlamet resident Tim Hanigan joins Wahkiakum School District Board of Directors, replacing Tony Boyce, who resigned.
Improvement in log market boosts county's revenue from state managed trust timberlands by $700,000. Stephanie Olsen named grand marshal of 2013 Bald Eagle Day Parade. Skamokawa siblings Erin and James Turner start bicycle odyssey across the United States.
Wahkiakum County, Army Corps of Engineers resolve issues that have delayed start of setback dike construction on Hansen National Wildlife Refuge. Coastal tribes stop in Cathlamet and Skamokawa on canoe journey to Quinault. County officials withdraw plans for public housing project when survey shows problems with groundwater and wetlands. Grays River Valley Center makes improvements to host LCC classes. Deputy Sheriff Mike Balch announces he will run for sheriff against incumbent Mark Howie. Port 1 commits $60,000 to construction of brewery building. County fair entertains patrons. Competitors from around the world come to 5th Annual Cathlamet Downhill Corral skateboard festival. PUD considers options for new source for Puget Island water. County awards contract to repair sliding Loop Road.
Court rejects challenge to state's off-channel gillnet policy. Town of Cathlamet plans to end contract to supply water to the Puget Island Water System when contract expires in 2037 if no agreement comes with Wahkiakum PUD to amend terms now. After second call for bids, county awards bid for new ferry to Nichols Brothers LLC of Freeland.
Health department and Family Health Center gear up to assist people in enrolling for health insurance exchanges. After NOAA withdraws funding to maintain Grays River gauging station, Wahkiakum County agrees to pay for reporting of river levels. Port District 2 begins negotiations to take over operation of County Line Park, which has been operated by Cowlitz County. Ferry "Wahkiakum" begins stint in drydock when crew members discover water leaking through a crack in the hull. Once crack is repaired, newly refurbished engine fails, and ferry returns to drydock for replacement.
Mark Howie takes initial lead over Mike Balch in sheriff's election and expands that lead as late votes are counted to win election as sheriff. Mule volleyball team wins district volleyball championship. Mule football team defeats Naselle Comets to claim the KM Trophy. Because of declining enrollment, Naselle/Grays River Valley School District directors approve move from Class 2B to Class 1B for interscholastic activities. Mules place seventh in state volleyball tournament. Despite wet weather, contractor wraps up painting of refurbished town hall, which now houses a community center as well as a library. Wet weather forces halt of setback dike construction on Hansen National Wildlife Refuge; work to resume next spring. Council passes ordinance to not renew contract to provide water to Puget Island. Wahkiakum PUD raises rates 5 percent. Lee Tischer retires after 16 years on the Wahkiakum School District board of directors; Shawn Merz wins election to take his place.
Snow and pipe breaking cold weather blanket Wahkiakum County for almost a week. US Fish and Wildlife Service announces plan to relocate deer from Puget Island and Hansen NWR to add to Ridgefield refuge herd; county officials voice opposition. Town council okays shoreline permit for chinook salmon rearing net pens by a 3-2 vote. Deep River resident Krist Novoselic and the band Nirvana are voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.