Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

New name for Grays River Valley Center

Wahkiakum County commissioners onTuesday approved a name change at Johnson Park and addressed a variety of other issues.

Timo Virkkala and Cynthia Lahti, representatives of the Johnson Park board of directors, asked that the county commission act to name the old school building the Grays River Valley Center. The overall facility will still be called Johnson Park, after the family that sold the land to the county in the 1930's for a school or park site.

The change will help in going after funding grants, Lahti and Virkkala said. Funding agencies often won't support parks, but they will support community centers, which is their goal for the old school buildings. They are operating a library, computer center and other services in the building.

"Without certified teachers, we can't apply as a school," Lahti said. "A center can do many things."

Commissioners Lisa Marsyla, Blair Brady and Dan Cothren supported the recommendation and passed a motion to change the name.

They also agreed to meet with Johnson park directors on a July afternoon to tour the building and go over needs and plans. They have already called for a project to repair a leaking roof.

In other business:

--Public Works Director Pete Ringen said chances look bleak for federal funding for repair of the eroding Steamboat Slough Dike along the Hansen National Wildlife Refuge for the Columbian White-tailed Deer.

The Columbia is eating into the dike and threatening to cut it and the county road on top. A similar problem in 1997 was solved through an appropriation from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Ringen said.

However, he has spoken with that agency, and there is now no declared emergency for funding. Diking District 4 can't cover the cost, and the US Army Corps of Engineers has no maintenance agreement on the dike with the district.

"I'm deeply concerned about this," he said. "It's a federal issue; the dike protects the federal refuge, which is most of the diking district. I hope some federal agency will be able to address it."

He added that representatives of the region's federal legislators will visit July 1 to go over the situation.

--Representatives of the County Property Rights Advisory Board discussed the county's comprehensive land use management plan update and how they might review it for the county commission.

The county's first comp plan was written in the early 1980s, and an update was started 6-8 years ago. A proposed update came to the board of commissioners about three years ago but has languished as the board had been distracted by financial issues.

Commissioner Cothren said he has seen the need for some planning during his tenure in office, and Commissioner Marsyla said she would try to attend a property rights advisory board meeting for further discussion.


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