Commissioners discuss hoof rot, ferry
At their last meeting of the 2013 calendar year on December 31, Wahkiakum County Commissioners tackled a myriad of topics including the ferry project, Columbian white-tailed deer, a request for financial assistance to renovate the bathrooms at County Line Park, and discussed the status of the biosolid case in appeals court and hoof rot in local elk herds.
Westend resident Al George asked for the updates on biosolids and hoof rot.
“As far as the biosolids, we are still waiting for a court date,” Commissioner Blair Brady said. “The state submitted a brief and the court sent it back to them to redo it. It could be another year before it gets to the appeals court.”
Commissioner Dan Cothren acknowledged the hoof rot problem in the area.
“We’re not happy with Fish and Wildlife. We’ve been seeing hoof rot since the ‘90s. They still haven’t found out what is going on. My big issue is that they are not proactive. I’ve been going around talking to a lot of people about what they’ve seen. The consensus is that the population is going downhill.”
Cothren said he was interested in holding an event for the public to discuss the issue.
Puget Island resident Chip Middleton commended the commissioners on the letter they sent to the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) regarding Columbian white-tailed deer on the island.
“I’m here to ask what I can do as a resident to help this along,” Middleton said, “to get a resolution to them not trapping our deer on the island.”
He was invited to attend a work session between the commissioners and FWS held later that day.
They reappointed George Exum and Jeff Rooklidge to the Marine Resources Committee for another two-year term. Robert Kizziar will replace Abe York as Port District 1 representative until the end of the year and Terry Ostling will act as Mike Clark’s alternate for a two-year term.
The commissioners accepted Janet Bryan’s resignation from the Fair Board.
Public Works Director Pete Ringen outlined the schedule of the new ferry for the commissioners, sharing that parts for the ferry were already being purchased and that they had begun the Coast Guard permitting process.
Ringen shared that workers will begin to cut steel for the first of three modules on February 3. The three complete modules will be fitted together on June 12 of this year. The ferry will launch in late August and begin sea trials in October, if all goes according to plan.
Though the ferry project is going well, Ringen is anxious about the other projects that need to be completed before the ferry moves to its new home on the Columbia River.
The ferry ramp was changed and the channel is out of alignment. The new ferry will be bigger and will require a different turning radius as it comes out into the ferry channel.
“The biggest risk and unknown on this project right now,” Ringen said, “is whether the US Army Corps of Engineers is going to get the dredging done on this channel before the new ferry arrives.”
He shared that changes have been recommended and drawings have been sent to the US Army Corps of Engineers.
“I’m a little concerned about when they are going to wrap it up,” Ringen finished, “because this has been going on for a while. Things are getting dicey.”
Cothren suggested that Ringen contact Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler’s office as soon as possible in an effort to get things moving.
PORT 2 Commissioner Lori Scott asked if the county commissioners might consider using money from a capital improvement fund to match what Port 2 was willing to invest in order to complete the renovation of the bathrooms at County Line Park.
“That’s what those funds are for. We are helping an entity, but the entity is part of our entity. I’m in agreement with it,” Cothren said.
Brady requested more information and Scott agreed to bring him the entire proposal.