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

Town council considers comp plan extension, change order protocol


Rick Nelson

A Nutter Construction Company crew works on water main improvements along Cathlamet's Columbia Street.

Members of the Cathlamet Town Council acted on an update of the town's comprehensive plan and debated change order procedures and how to allocate CARES Act funds when they met Monday.

The council voted 3-2 to extend their contract with the Cowlitz/Wahkiakum Council of Governments (COG) for plan development by $4,500 for a total of $13,500.

COG Executive Director Bill Fashing said the initial contract envisioned a quick, uncomplicated update, but there had been lots of input from council members, and the work had become much more complicated.

Council Member Robert Stowe disagreed.

"I don't see where you've done $9,000 worth of work," he said. "It looks like a lot of cut and paste. I'm really unhappy with what's been done."

"I appreciate your comments," Fashing said. "I have no excuses. The person who was lead is gone. My commitment to you is to have a quality product when done."

Stowe and Council Member Laurel Waller said they had been working together to go over the plan and felt they had made excellent progress that would benefit the process. Waller asked council members to allow them to finish their work before having COG go back to work.

There was discussion, and Council Member Bill Wainwright moved to authorize the contract extension with COG, with the understanding the organization would take all steps to keep the cost down. Council Member David Olson seconded the motion; Wainwright, Olson and Paige Lake voted in favor and Stowe and Waller opposed.

Council members spent considerable time but took no action discussing a resolution to set up a protocol for town staff handling and approving change orders stemming from the Columbia Street water main replacement project.

Under the proposal, the clerk/treasurer could approve change orders up to $2,600; the mayor, up to $20,000, and the council over $20,000.

Wainwright and Stowe both questioned the process, with Wainwright

concerned that change orders would add up to a big increase to the $1 million contract and Stowe unhappy that the process was being established while the contractor was already working.

Town Attorney Fred Johnson pointed out that the contract with the contractor was presented and that it contained some 20 pages detailing use of change orders. The town has engaged the engineering firm of Gray and Osborne, Inc., to monitor the work; they will make detailed progress reports and negotiate change orders with the contractor.

Council members also discussed how to allocate $25,000 in federal CARES Act funding that can be used to respond to issues arising from the covid-19 pandemic.

One idea would be loans to Cathlamet businesses needing some financial assistance.

Council Member Lake said she had contacted 12 Main Street businesses and learned that two are in good shape and others would welcome a 12-month, no-interest loan. Three businesses have already closed their doors because of covid-19.

Olson supported the idea of supporting local business, and he further suggested the town cooperate with Wahkiakum County, which has its own pot of CARES Act funds to allocate.

Lake said she would be happy to consult with county officials.

There was further discussion of other uses and financial considerations about loans being repaid, but no action was taken.


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