Junk car concerns return to board
June 13, 2019
Wahkiakum County officials may take another look at their ordinance governing junk vehicles following complaints from citizens during the past few weeks.
Skamokawa resident Ursula Petralia raised the issue at Tuesday's meeting of the county board of commissioners, saying recent visitors had expressed disgust at seeing a property between Cathlamet and Skamokawa covered with junk vehicles. A fence screens the property from a county road, but the vehicles are visible from SR 4. She also expressed concern that the disabled vehicles could be leaking oil or generating other pollution.
Chris Bischoff, who, as director of the county's Department of Health and Human Services, said he is prohibited from discussing specific situations.
The county's ordinance governing the junk vehicles respects the rights of property owners, he added. That makes it difficult for the county to take action unless the situation is acute.
"I think we're at the point we need to look at this ordinance again," commented commission Chair Dan Cothren. "It's getting out of hand."
Bischoff said he is watching Jefferson County, which is working on a stricter ordinance. When a draft is available, he'll pass it on to the county prosecuting attorney and board of commissioners for consideration.
He added that his department has successfully initiated proceedings with some property owners, and action is pending with others.
"We have five that won't do anything," he said. "We've taken them to the prosecuting attorney; he's prioritized them and working on his list."
In other business:
--Bischoff, Ginger Hake, Julie Johnston and Meadow Meeder presented an overview of the H&HS Youth Marijuana Prevention and Education Program.
Surveys show that 10-14 percent of local youth in the eighth grade and high school report having used marijuana within 30 days of the survey date.
"What the program is trying to do is to help kids understand that peer pressure is a big thing, and that doing this activity puts them in a minority," Bischoff said.
--Public Works Director Chuck Beyer announced that the ferry Oscar B. would be out of service June 24 and 25 so that mechanics could replace the main engine.
--The board received no bids from contractors to build a food service kitchen and fish processing center at Wahkiakum High School. Another call for bids will be appear in the June 20 issue of The Eagle.
--Puget Island resident Kristin Lee asked commissioners what would be needed to lower the speed limit of SR 409 on Puget Island from 50 to 40 miles per hour. The faster speed leads to dangerous conditions on the highway which often has no shoulders.
As the road is a state highway, commissioners said, the matter would need action by the state Department of Transportation. The department would want to see evidence of local support for the reduction, commissioners said, as occurred with town and county officials asking the department to reduce the speed on SR 4 through Cathlamet.