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

Crew makes progress with town water leaks


August 23, 2018

Town of Cathlamet officials reported progress on a variety of issues at the monthly town council meeting on Monday.

Public Works Director Duncan Cruickshank said the town crew had found two large water leaks and repaired them. They were leaking 60,000 gallons or more per day, he said.

Working with a consultant, they’ve found many other small leaks, probably caused by deteriorating band joints; Cruickshank called it “death by 1,000 cuts."

Early in the summer, a major leak in a main running through the Birnie Creek channel almost drained the system. The crew has shut valves to exclude that line from the system. An estimate to repair was $5,891, Cruickshank said.

The crew will need to relocate the line out of the streambed, Cruickshank said.

Not repairing the line would have adverse impact, he added. “If we don’t do that, we’ll lower fire flow for the town.”

In other business:

--Council members spent considerable time discussing an appeal of their assigned sewer rate for Paige and Steve Lake and their new bed and breakfast business. Cruickshank recommended a rate of 1.8 equivalents, based on a residence with two rental rooms.

The Lakes, however, argued that their two seldom rented rooms fall below the threshold for the number of rental rooms upon which Cruickshank based his recommendation.

Both parties cited town ordinance to support their arguments. After much discussion, council members agreed different sections of the ordinance are contradictory.

“The code is imperfect,” Cruickshank said. “Both arguments are brilliant.”

The ordinance in question was written before the rise of bed and breakfast or other contemporary lodgings.

“We’re having a hard time making the code fit to something that doesn’t fit,” said Council Member Sue Cameron. Noting that the Lakes could return after the council updates the ordinance, Cameron moved to accept Cruickshank’s recommendation, and after more discussion, the motion passed.

The council agreed to hold a workshop meeting on the ordinance. Mayor Dale Jacobson suggested Council Members Laurel and Tanya Waller recuse themselves because they own and operate the Hotel Cathlamet, but Town Attorney Heidi Heywood said it would be inappropriate to exclude council members from the discussion.

--Heywood’s contract as attorney ended, and she has declined to submit a proposal for a new contract. The council voted to authorize Jacobson to interview a candidate and hire him, if Jacobson feels the candidate would provide good service.

--The council authorized forester Bill Olsen to prepare a call for bids for the sale of a unit of town timber. He estimated the sale could generate $285,000 or more for the town, and another sale could be put up for bid later this year.

--Officials announced that Prudence Diem had resigned from the town planning commission, leaving only one member. Council members said they would act as the planning commission until new members are appointed.

The council decided to table a proposed ordinance that would have reduced the number of planning commissioners from five to three.

--The council approved an ordinance lowering the speed limit on SR 4 inside town boundaries from 50 to 45 miles per hour. The action is part of the safety enhancement program spearheaded by the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Cruickshank and others suggested seeking a reduction to 35 miles per hour, but Cruickshank said that would require a major WSDOT traffic study and major alterations, such as lighted cross walks, to the highway.

--Cameron recommended that council members take advantage of training in parliamentary procedure this fall. “It will make our meetings much better,” she said.

--McNally announced the town has contracted with Cowlitz Clean Sweep for street cleaning twice a month. The first pass will occur late at night on the second Tuesday of the month; she wasn’t sure when the second cleaning would occur.


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