County seeks church property for campus
Wahkiakum County commissioners on Tuesday gave the Department of Health and Human Services authority to negotiate a purchase of land for a housing development and a possible new Health Department campus.
The 6-acre parcel is on the north side of SR 4 near the Main Street intersection and adjacent to the new Town of Cathlamet Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Last year, Health and Human Services considered buying land on the east side of Cathlamet but backed away when a consultant reported the land had drainage problems.
The new site is owned by the Catholic Church, and in the 1960's, the church cleared and leveled some of the site with the intention of constructing a new building for St. Catherine Church. However, the parish instead remodeled and expanded their existing building, and brush took over the highway site.
This summer, Health and Human Services' Housing Advisory Group advertised and searched for sites, and, spokesperson Chris Holmes said Tuesday, only the Catholic Church came forward with a proposal.
The site has good points going for it: It has been partially leveled, it is of sufficient size; utilities are close by; there is good access to services, and there is an unused county road providing access.
The housing group unanimously felt that this was the best opportunity, Holmes said.
Besides a mix of housing projects, the site could also house expanded Human Services projects. The department is planning to expand facilities, and plans include co-locating with the Family Health Center and local foodbanks.
In other business Tuesday, commissioners authorized the county Emergency Services Council to purchase a new ambulance for the Cathlamet Fire Department.
Council spokesperson Beau Renfro said the voter-approved emergency services levy provides the funds. The council, which represents all the county's fire departments, schedules equipment replacement using the funding.