Commissioners okay mural, patrol car
Wahkiakum County commissioners handled a light business agenda and discussed concerns at their Tuesday meeting.
Commissioners finalized the new design for the painted mural at the entrance of the Main Street parking lot. The mural has a large painted map showing sights to see in Wahkiakum County. It is based on a mural that was on the building that once occupied the lot where the parking lot and Courthouse Annex are now located.
Representatives of the Tsuga Arts Association have volunteered to repaint the mural, which is weathered and peeling. Artist David Goodroe reported a grant from the Wahkiakum Chamber of Commerce will pay for the work, and he offered three designs for the commissioners to review.
He noted that the Chamber of Commerce board of directors favored option two, which featured a map with locations, similar to the existing mural. It would also have presentations of fishermen, loggers and other representatives of the county's way of life.
After reviewing the suggested designs, Commissioner Blair Brady said he concurred with the Chamber's recommendation, and fellow Commissioners Dan Cothren and Mike Backman agreed. They voted to authorize use of the second option.
Tsuga members said they would soon start work on the project.
Commissioners approved a recommendation from Undersheriff Steve Marshall to purchase a new patrol vehicle and pass the vehicle being replaced to the county Health and Human Services Department.
Marshall said the move could be accomplished by using just the funds available in the county's Equipment Rental and Revolving Fund (ER&R), which collects payments from departments to cover the replacement costs of their vehicles and equipment. Health and Human Services has been using an old vehicle which is no longer reliable, and which wasn't collecting replacement funds.
Marshall said that by eliminating extra features, the new patrol vehicle would be covered by ER&R, and the replaced vehicle could be passed on to Health and Human Services. That department will start paying into ER&R to help cover future replacement costs.
The new vehicle will be a 2015 Ford Police Interceptor with a six cylinder engine and four-wheel drive.
Commissioners voted to authorize the purchase and transfer.
"I appreciate Steve's hard work to keep down the price," Backman said.
"Steve did a real good job coming up with this," said Public Works Director Pete Ringen.
Commissioners held a round table discussion with representatives of Lower Columbia College, the Cowlitz/Wahkiakum Governmental Conference and Rep. Brian Blake and shared some of their concerns.
Brady said he returned from recent meetings with state officials very discouraged about the financial picture for state and local government.
State officials are predicting a revenue shortfall of $1 billion or more in the next two years, he said, even though the state's economy is improving. The state Supreme Court is pressuring the legislature to increase funding for education, and that will severely impact overall governmental spending.
In environmental issues, state and federal government are pushing laws and rules that are taking away local control, Cothren said.
Even though a hoof rot disease is reducing local elk herds, state officials want to increase the number of special permits in the area, which will hurt herds even more, he said.
Also state and federal government are amending watershed management rules so that citizens and local government will be forced into a more complicated and more expensive permitting process with fewer options for use.
"You might as well cut a hole in my arm and pour salt in it," Cothren said.