Officials report efforts to deal with issues
July 23, 2020
Local officials covered a lot of ground July 14 when they met for a round table and meeting of the Wahkiakum County board of commissioners.
l In the roundtable hosted by the Cowlitz/Wahkiakum Council of Governments, State Sen. Dean Takko and Rep. Brian Blake said it is unlikely there will be a special legislative session in August to deal with the impacts of the covid-19 epidemic.
Blake, chair of the House Rural Development, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, said one issue upon which he is focused is boosting hatchery production in the Wahkiakum/Naselle area. The Naselle hatchery is being refurbished, he said, and he'd like to see the Beaver Creek Hatchery boost production.
Takko said he is very worried about the pandemic's impacts and he would like to see more people using masks as a means of reducing the spread of the disease, which is spreading in Cowlitz County.
"All that it takes is one person to come home from a wedding in Yakima and it takes off. This isn't going to be a short term thing,” he said.
"The vaccine--That's another thing. I'm getting emails from people who are saying, ‘If you get a vaccine, I'm not going to take it.'"
l Sheriff Mark Howie reported an uptick in cases involving domestic violence or mental health issues since the arrival of the virus and resulting increase in jail population.
"We're plugging along, taking extra precautions," he said. "The number one goal is to have a steady supply of personal protective equipment."
l Wahkiakum County Commissioner Gene Strong said he would like to see local and state efforts address the struggles of businesses dealing with covid-19 restrictions.
"They're struggling out there," he said. "Our part as commissioners is to see what we can do to keep them functioning and operational."
"Small business--that's huge," said Commissioner Dan Cothren. "If you can't manage it higher up, give it back to us and we'll do it."
l Cathlamet Town Council Member Paige Lake said she, the Chamber of Commerce and county staff put together kits to help local businesses meet state requirements to be open. "Everybody has been really thankful," she said. She added that she hoped the county would be able to use some of its CARES Act funds to support local business.
l During the board of commissioners meeting, Commissioner Mike Backman urged county staff to take steps to make the River Street Meeting Room suitable for public meetings according to Phase 3 guidelines.
l Commissioner Cothren commented that the 2021 revenue from harvest of timber on county trust timber land is improving because the log markets are improving.
"The mills are screaming for wood," he said. "The company I work for doesn't have enough loggers to put out more sales.
"My perception is that there will be an uptick in price. That could help revenue for 2021. If there are no other downswings, it could boost our revenue over $1 million," he said."
The current estimate from the state Department of Natural Resources, which manages the trust timber harvest, is for slightly over $800,000 for 2021. The revenue supports the Current Expense Fund, which finances most courthouse offices.
Cothren added that he would talk to local DNR foresters about finding some extra logging that could be added to the 2021 harvest. He said 2021 would be a low year, but there will be more volume available for harvest in following years.