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

Commissioners cover varied issues with legislators


Tuesday's meeting of the Wahkiakum County Board of Commissioners covered a lot of ground as the day started with a regional forum and moved into the board's regular business.

The forum, hosted by the Cowlitz/Wahkiakum Council of Governments, brings local officials together with state representatives and representives of members of the US Senate and House of Representatives.

In the forum, Commissioner Dan Cothren reported that although discussion might be heated at a newly formed Solutions Table for marbeled murrelet management, members continue to look for common ground. The group includes environmentalists pushing for habitat conservation, and representatives of entities wanting to harvest timber on state managed timberland. The degree of habitat conservation can affect timber revenue for timber trust beneficiaries including Wahkiakum County and schools across the state.

"It's tough," Cothren admitted. "We trying to find common ground, but it's not going to be easy," he said. "We need to work together."

County Engineer Paul Lacy urged the state and federal representatives to try to rein in the permitting demands for minor road projects. Obtaining permits for a simple project to shore up a bridge abutment can take two years and cost $16,000 for a simple project that could cost under $1,000.

State Rep. Blake commented that legislative committees have been working on a funding plan to replace culverts that block fish passage under public roads.

"It's a good investment long term, but we do need to reduce the cost," Blake said. "You need to be able to go and build it."

At the start of the board's regular meeting, Puget Island resident Suzanne Holmes reported that a community based summer meals program for children will start Monday, with sack lunches served at Julius A. Wendt Elementary School.

Holmes said the lunches are for all youth, whether or not they're in summer school.

Working Wahkiakum on the Move, the group will also deliver lunches to people along the transit system's routes.

Public Works Director Chuck Beyer reported that county consultants are still working with the Seattle and Portland offices of the US Army Corps of Engineers to complete the permitting process for nourishing eroding beaches on Puget Island and Cape Horn.

Commissioner Cothern commented that county officials and staff of the federal representatives will meet with Corps officials and contintue to look for a way to include the lower portion of East Sunny Sands beach in the beach nourishment program.

Beyer also reported that the board has two options for meeting mitigation requirements for potential deposition of dredge spoils along North Welcome Slough Road. The county can purchase wetlands mitigation credits for land in Cowlitz County for $28,700, or it can create its own mitigation site at a much higher cost.

Cothren and Commissioner Blair Brady urged Beyer to proceed with the purchase.

District Court Judge Heidi Heywood informed the board that the state is changing how counties may assess fines and fees on people convicted of crimes.

The burden of court ordered payments leads to recidivism, Heywood said, and the new guidelines should allow people to meet their obligations without having to go to jail and build up debt.However, it will lower revenue from court cases.


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