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

Commissioners address dredging, water shortage, mental health issues


Wahkiakum County Commissioners Dan Cothren and Mike Backman handled a variety of business Tuesday and focused on issues such as dredging, potable water and management of mental health services.

Commissioner Cothren reported that officials from the county and the US Army Corps of Engineers will hold a conference meeting Thursday to go over the county's permit applications to establish a beach nourishment program for eroding beaches.

"Everything is turned in," Cothren said. The meeting will check the submittals to see if there's any last minute amendments needed.

The Corps is still studying this year's shoaling and preparing its channel maintenance program, Cothren said.

"Hopefully, we'll get a timetable on Thursday," Cothren said.

Oneida Road resident Corbett McMasters said recent dry is causing wells in the area to dry up, said resident are having a hard time finding other sources of water.

"Do you have any idea where we can get water," he asked the board.

He added that he and others had accessed a spring up the Elochoman Valley, but the county's gate keeping people from entering an area threatened by a land slide cut off access to the spring.

Wahkiakum PUD has offered to install a metered access on the Western Wahkiakum Water System, McMasters said, but they want a $1,000 connection fee and then a $60 monthly fee. (The WWWS mains don't serve the Oneida Road area.--ed.)

Commissioner Backman had a couple suggestions--1. Skamokawa Vista Park often supplies water to people whose wells go dry, and 2. perhaps water would be available at Johnson Park in Rosburg.

Backman said he would discuss the issue with the Johnson Park board when it met last night (Wednesday).

Cothren commented he wanted to investigate the possiblity of re-opening the Elochoman Valley Road if geotechs learn the slide has stopped moving.

"It was never my intention that it would be locked up all the time," Cothren said. "If it's not moving, let's open it up.

"We were aware people were getting water out there. I didn't know you were coming from Oneida."

Suzanne Holmes, the county's member of the board of directors of the Great River Behavioral Health Organization, reported that Great Rivers has had a year of expansion of services.

The organization channels state and federal mental health funds into five counties. The expansion, she said, has created 65 new jobs and expanded service to clients.

Wahkiakum County Mental Health Coordinator Tristan Wozniak said Great Rivers funding has helped the Wahkiakum County program succeed and become known for friendly welcoming services.

"People hear that and come to us for service from Pacific and Cowlitz counties," she said.

That drew a concern from Commissioner Cothren, who is employed as a security officer for Hancock Forest Industries.

He said he has seen an influx of people moving into the rural areas of the county and camping on private property.

"They're changing our environment, and I'm a little concerned about that," he said.

Health and Human Services Director Chris Bishoff suggested Cothren was seeing an influx of persons unable to find affordable housing, not people with mental health issues.

"I saw a lot of that in Cowlitz County [where he was previously employed]," Bishoff said. "It's a lot of other economic stuff driving that."


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