Governmental entities plan many projects around the county
January 16, 2020
One might think Tuesday's meeting of the Wahkiakum County Board of Commissioners turned into a reality TV news program.
The morning started at 8 a.m. with a roundtable discussion by local governmental entities reporting their principle activities and transitioned into similar discussion in the county commission's formal meeting.
--Jackie Lea, manager of Port District 1, said the port is continuing the permitting process to site a barge demolition site. A company wants to decommission barges at the Elochoman Slough Marina. Activity would occur during winter months when the marina isn't busy; barges would be hauled out of the water via the marina's boat ramp and scrapped on a site to be developed between marina buildings and the Rivermile 38 Brewery.
"Hopefully, we'll get a fishing season [for spring chinook] but we're not counting on it," she added. "I haven't heard any whispering about it."
"Until you put more numbers out there, there's so much predation, you won't have any fish," commented county Commissioner Dan Cothren.
--Cothren and Commissioner Gene Strong reported that the Grays River Habitat Enhancement District has received a plan for dredging parts of Grays Bay to increase flow from the Grays and Deep rivers and lower flood impacts in their valleys.
Local officials will present the proposal to the US Army Corps of Engineers for discussions on what they can do together.
Westend residents say Corps dredging practices have plugged the outlets of the two tributaries, and that has exacerbated flooding.
County Commissioner Mike Backman joined the discussion and suggested asking the Corps to work on opening up the Cathlamet Channel so that pleasure boaters would pass by Cathlamet and stop there instead of following the Wauna Channel and bypass the town and marina.
That would be a hard sell to the Corps, Cothren commented.
"When we were working on plans to get sand for Cape Horn, (Corps) people were asking why put sand there because it would just filter back into the Cathlamet Channel," Cothren said.
--Wahkiakum PUD Commissioner Gene Healy reported the PUD's electrical system has loaned the PUD water system money to be used to add treatment to the utility's Skamokawa water system. The system draws water from a well on the hill above Skamokawa Vista Park.
--Wahkiakum County Sheriff Mark Howie reported that representatives of various entities are meeting monthly to update the county's emergency management planning. One goal is to make the county a hub for regional response. Also in the works is an update to the radio system used by the sheriff's office, fire departments, PUD and other entities.
--Wahkiakum School District Superintendent Brent Freeman reported 1. that the district has a new website and 2. that the district is asking voters to approve a $28 million building bond to renovate school buildings. The buildings have roof leaks, failing heating/air conditioning system and are out of compliance with seismic and building codes, Freeman said. Ballots will be mailed to school district voters around Jan. 24; the election date is Feb. 11.
In other roundtable discussion, Cothren reported on legislative issues; Backman said employment services are coming to the community center in Cathlamet; Public Works Director Chuck Beyer said engineers are planning road work projects on the Elochoman Valley and Steamboat Slough roads; Cooperative Extension Agent Carrie Backman reported on the Marine Resource Committee; Cowlitz/Wahkiakum Council of Governments Executive Director Bill Fashing reported that people will soon see announcements about the US Census, and Wahkiakum robotics club advisor Ron Wright reported local students earned an award last weekend for community motivation efforts.
Moving into their regular county commission business session:
--The county will soon offer a variety of text alerts to which citizens can subscribe. They will range from ferry operation status and burn bans to air quality reports and health department activities.
--Commissioners appointed Dana Hamp to the Johson Park Advisory Board and approved a sheriff's department contract for up to $90,000 for installation of a new 9-1-1 dispatch center.
--The board also approved a motion to accept $57,834.50 in funds from the former Great River Behavioral Health Organization for retention and recruitment efforts.
--Commissioner Strong reported that statewide county officials are apparently dropping a proposal to separate the combined position of county prosecuting attorney and county coronor into two elected positions.
"It doesn't make sense for small counties to have an elected official with an office who would work maybe 30 days a year," he said. "The system works; if it ain't broke, don't fix it."
--Commissioner Backman reported on a variety of subjects, including an effort by officials in coastal and inland counties to encourage the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to produce more harvestable salmon.
--Commissioners agreed to host a discussion next week with county fair officials and managers of the Silver Buckle Horse Gaming Series about a proposal to purchase new timing equipment.
And then the show was over; the meeting adjourned.