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

Commissioners plough through business


December 3, 2020

The Wahkiakum County Board of Commissioners handled a bit of business and got updates about covid-19 and changes at the Family Health Center on Tuesday.

Superior Court Clerk Kay Holland recently approached the commissioners about a $19,000 jury system upgrade, which they approved, and the CARES Act funds subsequently covered. She had since learned that the total was actually over $29,000, and asked the commissioners on Tuesday to cover the difference.

Commissioners approved the additional amount.

Commissioners renewed a consultant services contract with a probation officer for the District and Superior Courts. The contract is renewed annually, and there were no changes this year.

They also approved a rate adjustment for a 1998 Broce Broom, a street sweeper which the county is still using, from $175 an hour to $75 an hour, at the advice of Public Works Director Chuck Beyer.

“I’m winding down,” Commissioner Mike Backman said. His term ends this year. “I’m excited for what’s coming next.”

Backman said he was still working on a few things, including plans for a virtual holiday for the community, which he said would be held via Zoom and could be watched on YouTube. He hopes to have representatives from local government in attendance.

Wahkiakum Health and Human Services Director Chris Bischoff briefed the commissioners on covid-19.

“We certainly got smacked over the last week and a half,” Bischoff said. “Some close calls. Some of which were in the sheriff’s department, and that gets scary when we start losing the ability to respond. He was able to cover everything this time, but it was definitely a wake up for that department. I think about everybody is close to being done with quarantine, so they should be back to regular staffing.”

Bischoff said that the new wave of cases are not associated with the sheriff’s department, but because of the size of the community and the ways we connect to each other, there were still some cases that were currently active and were of concern to the county government.

“Nobody in the government is being asked by WHHS to quarantine, but there are some pretty close ties to that,” he said.

He said that some members of the community were exposed to the virus after going hunting with people from different households, and one of them had covid-19. He encouraged people to be cautious when considering inviting people from outside of their households into their homes, which he acknowledged was a difficult task during the holiday season.

Bischoff said that no new restrictions had been announced by the governor, and while the number of cases currently appeared to be heading downward, they were still really high. They are expecting another bump in cases following Thanksgiving to materialize around December 14.

The good news is that vaccines are coming, and there is a lot of thought going into who would be the first to receive them. The first doses will go to the hospital system to protect the people providing care, and then to long term care facilities for their employees. People who are most at risk will be addressed, as well as emergency responders like EMS, firefighters, and police, and in places like Wahkiakum where there is only one clinic and one pharmacist, they are likely to move up the list as well.

Bischoff encouraged people to get their flu shots.

Dian Cooper, the Director of the Family Health Center, said that an RN has left the local clinic and they were recruiting for a new one. Cooper is retiring soon, and she took the opportunity to introduce Jim Coffee, who is currently the Deputy Director of FHC, and who has been chosen to replace her.

Commissioners held public hearings for the annual construction program for 2021, the six year transportation improvement program for 2021-2026, and the 14-year ferry program. There were no comments from the public on any of these matters, and commissioners passed resolutions adopting all three.

They also approved the appointment and reappointments for two year terms to the Marine Resource Committee, including Commissioner Brett Deaton and his alternate, Todd Souvenir from Port 1, and Carol Ervest and Terina Davis from Port 2.


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