County commission deals with culverts, lobbying and plans for dredging
January 28, 2021
The Tuesday agenda for the Wahkiakum County Board of Commissioners was short on business items, but commissioners, staff and the public found plenty to discuss.
Commissioners heard about drainage problems from a Risk Road resident; they heard reports that the US Army Corps of Engineers is asking certain Columbia River shoreline residents for letters of support for dredging plans; staff reported on needs and status of the county's computer system, and commissioners reported on their activities for the week.
Tony Aegerter, a member of the Consolidated Diking District of Puget Island, reported that the Corps has contacted residents of North Welcome Slough Road seeking support of possible deposition of dredge spoils in the area to protect the dike road.
Commissioner Lee Tischer said East Sunny Sands property owners had received similar letters, and Commissioner Dan Cothren said letters had also gone to Cape Horn residents. Cothren said letters of support are needed to support the dredging program and deposition of spoils.
East Sunny Sands resident Mike Beutler said there is already erosion occurring below the pile dike at Pancake Point.
"Has the Corps had any significant discussion about taking action on the pile dike," he asked.
"No," Cothren replied, "we'll bring that up when we talk to them."
Commissioners declined to involve county forces in a drainage problem affecting a Risk Road property.
Property owner Jordan Friend told the board a county culvert points drainage at his shop, and it has been flooded in recent wet spells. He asked that the road crew dig a ditch or do something to divert the water in a different direction.
Public Works Director Chuck Beyer commented that road department staff had looked into the situation; the culvert was installed in 1933 and the shop was built in the past few years.
"The person who built the shop knew it was there," Beyer said. "We can't control where people build structures."
Commissioner Lee Tischer, a retired road crew worker, recalled that when the shop was built, the property owner hired a contractor to install a drainage system around it.
"Maybe you could contact them to see if the drains are filled up," Tischer said.
Friend said there were remnants of a drain but asked that county personnel respond.
"I don't feel I have to modify my property for water that's not mine," he said.
Commissioner Cothren said he personally had to take action at a previous residence where drainage off Greenwood Road flooded the basement in his house situated below the road.
"I had to put in drain tile," he said. "You have to take care of your own property."
"Basically, it's up to you," he said.
"That's all I need to know," Friend said.
County Information Technology (IT) Director Josh Holt reported on department developments over the past year.
The department is pursuing public wifi spots at the county's River Street Building in Cathlamet and Johnson Park in Rosburg.
Plans to supply laptop computers to employees so they could work remotely were derailed at the start of the covid-19 pandemic. Within a day of the announcement of restrictions, the nationwide supply of laptops was sold. He's just now able to finish equipping county employees, he said.
The department is taking significant steps to keep the county's system secure from hackers. Perhaps the biggest threat now is that an employee will open an email that contains a hacker's program. He plans to hold trainings for employees to help them recognize potential threats.
In commissioners' reports, Chair Gene Strong, the board's legislative representative, said officials from small counties are lobbying to oppose two house bills; one would separate coroner duties from prosecuting attorneys and the other would replace county health departments with regional health departments. The fear is that the job duty split would create new expenses for counties, and the second would lead to a decline in service as regional personnel became responsible for local programs.