Commission hears storm response report; OK's capital improvement plan
February 18, 2021
Wahkiakum County commissioners received an annual report of tax refunds and approved a two-year county Capital Improvement Plan when they met Tuesday.
Commissioners and staff also discussed the impact of last weekend's severe winter weather and frustrations in distribution of covid-19 vaccine for local use.
Treasurer Tammy Peterson reported the tax refunds, which ranged in size from $3.85 to $6,559.85. Refunds for senior citizens totaled $9,665.79, and others were attributed to a segregation error, $3.85; manifest errors, $977.47; clerical errors, $6,873.52, and Board of Equalization adjustments, $491.71.
Peterson said the $18,012.34 total is lower than in previous years, partly because of involving more senior citizens in a tax benefit program.
Commissioners also approved the 2021-22 county Capital Improvement Plan. The board and staff had discussed the list two weeks ago, and Public Works Director Chuck Beyer said the updated list includes work at the county fairgounds that wasn't on the previous list.
Estimated costs for projects on the list total approximately $880,500, with more projects listed without estimates.
Beyer also reported that response to the winter storm damage was challenging.
An ice storm crippled the Westend, and snow blanketed the eastern portion of the county.
One road crew member cleared fallen ice covered trees to the end of the Altoona/Pillar Rock Road and discovered he had to cut more newly fallen trees on his way out.
The crews were unable to plow snow on some hills, Beyer said, because of alternating layers of snow and ice.
Ferry service was halted at one point because accumulated snow and ice made the ramp at the Westport landing inoperable.
In a brief report, Health and Human Services Director Chris Bischoff reported the county's covid-19 vaccination program is doing well but struggling to obtain adequate doses.
Bischoff said the health department has received vaccine for patients' second doses but none for first doses for people who have become eligible for vaccinations, and it appears there will be no first dose vaccines coming until March.
The department has set up a call line for people 18 years and above with pre-existing conditions and people age 50 and above living in multi-generational families. The number is 360-795-1076 and is operational through this Friday.
Bischoff said the department is still working on its existing list of people age 65 and above; there are 180-200 to go.
Bischoff expressed frustration with the distribution of vaccine. Some counties have received large numbers of doses, and others have received none.
"It's very frustrating for me and my cohorts," he said. "We have no idea why doses go where they go."
Commissioner Dan Cothren asked if there should be more effort to vaccinate older people who haven't had their first shot.
"I think we've worked through most of those people," Bischoff said.
He added that people who have been recluctant to have the vaccinations because of safety concerns are now asking to have the shots because "they're seeing people living with it."