The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

By Rick Nelson
Wah. Co. Eagle 

Ferry utility connection costs rattle commission


Wahkiakum County commissioners weren't happy Tuesday with estimates for improving utilities at the Puget Island ferry landing.

The county is going to upgrade the landing to accommodate a new, larger ferry which will go into service in 2015. That ferry will require 3-phase power and a potable water line, neither of which are now located at the landing.

Wahkiakum PUD has quoted $14,557.62 for the shore power and $10,597.22 for the water line.

Those figures seemed high to Commissioners Blair Brady and Mike Backman (colleague Dan Cothren was absent to attend another meeting).

"We're not going to take any action on this today," Brady said. "I find it kind of shocking."

Brady said he felt that the PUD could reduce ancillary costs in its proposal.

He also suggested contacting Clatsop County to see if they could provide water connection; Clatsop is undertaking a major upgrade of the Wesport, Ore., landing.

Public Works Director Pete Ringen said the county can find the money in its Road Department funds. He agreed that the PUD's quotes were high, but he said a decision is needed fairly soon so that the project can go through the design and approval process.

"It takes a lot of time," he said.

In other business, health officials discussed the rise of obesity among the population and their plans to address the problem, which they termed an "epidemic."

"It's a big issue," said Public Health Officer Dr. Sarah Present. "Over the past 30 years, it has become a huge problem in the US, on par with tobacco." About 36 percent of the nation's adult population over age 20 is obese, she said. Among children age 2-5, 12.1 percent are obese, and among children age 6-19, 18 percent are obese.

Obesity is a factor in many health problems, she said, ranging from diabetes and sleep apnea to early puberty in youth.

Health and Human Services Director Sue Cameron said there are a variety of ideas to pursue as solutions. The community can work with food banks to offer more healthy food; schools can provide education and teach people how to grow fresh food; schools could also remove sodas from vending machines and install hydration systems to provide drinking water.

Overall, health officials say people need healthier food choices, safe access to recreation, and political support for exercise programs, school curriculums and health insurance incentives.

Cameron said health officials will work with community partners to support healthier living.


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