County officials discuss security, fate of 2020 fair
May 14, 2020
Wahkiakum County officials discussed Tuesday their next moves to deal with covid-19 virus, issues ranging from the fate of the county fair to installation of sneeze screens in courthouse offices.
Even with news that the state Department of Health has approved the county moving to a Phase 2 re-opening, the officials are wary of a continuing threat of the pandemic.
"It seems like we will go to Phase 3 faster than any other place in the state," said county Health & Human Services Director Chris Bischoff, "if we can keep our cases under control and don't have an outbreak."
Emergency Services Director Beau Renfro reported he had visited most courthouse offices to discuss safety measures, with most looking at installation of glass or plexiglass barriers on counters.
Both Auditor Nicci Bergseng and Treasurer Tammy Peterson said they would like more security, for they both have felt threatened or uncomfortable by upset customers.
"There needs to be some type of gate," Peterson said. "I've had a customer come right to my desk."
Renfro said that security measures could be incorporated, but Commissioner Dan Cothren asked if the extensive work was really necessary.
Renfro commented that the security measures would be part of long-range security upgrade already planned for the courthouse and that funds are available.
"Beau Renfro is correct," said District Court Judge Heidi Heywood. "We really do see the opportunity to achieve what we've wanted to achieve for the security upgrade, what we were planning to accomplish in any event."
Commissioner Gene Strong raised the issue of the fair, saying that even with the county going to a Phase 4 opening, it would be difficult to maintain social distancing at the fair.
"I have a kid in 4-H," Bischoff said. "I get it. My concern, is that two people bring the virus in and then 80 get infected and we're in lock down."
Strong, who is the commission's non-voting representative to the fair board, questioned whether or not it would be wise to hold the fair because of the pandemic uncertainty.
Commissioner Cothren agreed.
"They have all their startup costs, and then it gets cancelled," he said. "That's money you can't afford to lose."
Strong and Bischoff also wondered if there would be vendors who wanted to set up at the fair, given the risks.
It might be possible that some activities, such as the animal auction, could be managed online, the officials said.
Strong said the fair board would discuss the issues when they met last night (Wednesday), after The Eagle had gone to press.