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

Commissioners talk junk car ordinance, Johnson Park heating


December 12, 2019

Wahkiakum County commissioners addressed issues ranging from junk vehicles to transportation funding when they met Tuesday.

In response to a question from an Elochoman Valley resident, Health and Human Services Director Chris Bischoff said a committee formed to update the county's ordinance governing storage of junk vehicles on private property.

The resident asked if agencies such as the US Environmental Protection Agency should be concerned about fluids leaking from old cars.

Bischoff responded that neither the EPA nor the state Department of Ecology would likely be interested in the small quantities of fluids that might leak from junk cars.

"The DOE--they care when they want to care," he added. "I would be shocked if they (DOE) came down. It doesn't do any good for my department to go to the DOE . . . "

That leaves the county responsible for local enforcement, and the county ordinance needs more teeth to handle stubborn landowners, Bischoff has said.

Commissioner Mike Backman said he wanted to be involved in the ordinance update.

"I've had people say that if they could get some help, a few dollars for fencing or trees [they could comply]," he said. "It's a way to not make a set of rules for the whole county. I'm willing to come to that meeting and talk about it."

At this point, the meetings of the committee--a group of citizens and staff--are intended to be work sessions, Bischoff, said. Commission Chair Dan Cothren represents the board of commissioners. If Backman also participated, that would turn the meetings into special meetings of the commission. Bischoff said he would prefer to have the committee create the update and have Backman and other people comment in the public review process.

Commissioners referred Johnson Park Manager Shondra Ware to the Public Works Department to complete a bidding process to install heaters for the corridors at the Rosburg facility.

Ware had asked the board to accept a bid from a company that would install three units to do the heating. The firm was a lot more than the other responsive bidder, but that bid included only one unit and wouldn't have done the job, she said. She had contacted six firms, of whom only three visited the building and two responded with bids.

"You should have talked with Public Works Director Chuck Beyer," said Commissioner Cothren.

Ware said she understood the work needed to be done by the end of the year and paid out of the 2019 budget, but Cothren said the funds could be carried over to 2020.

"We still have a lot of time," he said. "We have some more folks who could bid on this.

Skamokawa resident Kay Walters asked how passage of Initiative 941 (reducing car license tab fees to $30) would impact the county's Wahkiakum on the Move transportation service.

Bischoff responded that the impact won't be seen immediately, if it survives a court test.

Stat transportation officials will maintain the local level funding as long as possible and have already cut back on filling vacant positions and maintaining funding for grants that haven't been completed.

Over the long term, there will be problems if the initiative survives legal tests and takes effect.

"If the legislature doen't jump on this and fix it, we're in for trouble," Bischoff said.


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