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

County commission deals with Johnson Hours, security measures


August 8, 2019

Wahkiakum County commissioners addressed two property issues when they met Tuesday.

First, they agreed to delay a decision on the fate of the Johnson House two weeks, and next, they authorized the Public Works Department to obtain quotes for security improvements to the courthouse and other county owned buildings.

Two weeks ago, commissioners received a report from county Building Inspector David Hicks saying that the 100-year-old Johnson House, which formerly housed a mental health program, should have $58,000 in improvements, that annual maintenance would run around $2,000, and that it could be rented for about $1,100 per month.

At that time Commissioner Gene Strong suggested putting the house up for sale but keeping the property which abuts the courthouse campus. At the request of Commissioner Mike Backman, the board agreed to hold off on a decision so that Backman, who was in Alaska at the time, could look at other options for using the house. Commissioners said then that they would wait until the August 6 meeting this week.

And on this week, August 6, Backman asked for more time.

"I'm working to find a use for the building that takes the liability off the county," he said. "I'd like to look at it for a couple weeks.

Fellow Commissioners Strong and Dan Cothren agreed with the request.

"I don't have a problem waiting two weeks," Strong said.

Assessor Bill Coons suggested the board establish a right of first refusal if they sell the house and property.

"That would preserve the county's ability to re-acquire the property the next time it's sold," he said.

"I think its a board consensus that we're not going to sell the property," Cothren said, and Strong agreed.

"We'll give it a couple weeks more and go from there," Cothern said.

In other business, commissioners called for quotes for implementing security improvements to county buildings.

District Court Judge Heidi Heywood reported that a committee has been studying security needs and has developed a prioritized list of improvements with the cost ranging from $22,850 to $32,000, depending on the level of measures adopted.

Commissioners agreed to implement the security measures which the committee called immediate needs. These include:

• Courthouse: Film tint for Superior and District court office windows; cameras for parking areas; retrofitting the auditor's office to allow a locking door that can be activated by a panic button or interlock system; closing the alley beside the courthouse to allow only emergency vehicle access; purchasing an electronic lock for locking fire door between court lobby and sheriff's office, and installation of ballistic steel panels at locations to be announced.

• River Street Building and Hope Center--Film tint windows; install mechanism to quickly lock entry door from the inside.


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