PUD discusses water, broadband projects


While the Wahkiakum County PUD awaits a decision on a grant application for the first phase of a potential Deep River water project, General Manager Dave Tramblie told commissioners at their board meeting on Tuesday that he had received an estimate from their engineer for the second phase.

The engineer estimated that it would cost $3,254,000 to extend four inch water main the 19,300 feet from west SR 4 up the length of Oneida Road.

“The terrain up there is difficult,” Tramblie said.

Meanwhile, the campaign for connectivity continues.

Tramblie said that he, Commissioner Gene Healy, and Counsel Tim Hanigan had recently met with Ken Johnson, the new CEO of Wahkiakum West, to explore other avenues in the PUD’s effort to bring broadband to the east side of the county.

Commissioner Dennis Reid said that he might be one of the customers in the East Valley of Skamokawa to lose internet because of Hancock Forest Management’s recent decision to not renew a lease with Skamokawa Internet Services, which has towers on their land.

Tramblie said that he and Steve Carson of Skamokawa Internet Services, and the Town of Cathlamet had begun to investigate other potential sites where Carson might relocate the towers.

“I don’t know if anything is going to come of it,” Tramblie said.

Reid said that Carson planned to visit his property to determine whether it would be a good place for a tower.

“It’s kind of unnerving to think we may possibly lose it,” Reid said. “Thank you for exploring other avenues.”

Town Council Member David Olson applauded the PUD for actively seeking broadband for the community and expressed frustration with Hancock Forest Management’s decision to discontinue their lease with Skamokawa Internet Service.

“My own view,” Olson said, “both as a citizen and as a town council member, deeply concerned about developing broadband, not losing it in this county, is that Hancock’s indifference to the broadband needs of this community

should not go unremarked. It is outrageous and deplorable.”

Tramblie spoke briefly about the heat related issues the county experienced on June 27, adding that last week’s data showed a 30 percent increase in electrical demand on the east side of the county.

“While the numbers were well below their winter peaks,” Tramblie said, “it was an obvious increase during those few days when it was really warm.”

Procuring materials continues to be a struggle, with the PUD’s last order of transformers now 38 weeks out. Tramblie said that he was able to find four rebuilt transformers, which will ship next week. He has 10 projects that require 25 KVA pad mounted transformers, and he currently has six of them installed.

“I think we’re going to get through this, but it’s going to be difficult,” he said.

The commissioners voted unanimously to offer the position of general manager to applicant Daniel Kay, subject to the successful negotiation of an employment contract, before closing the public meeting for an executive session to continue discussions about the matter.

“This was a very hard decision,” Reid said. “We spent a lot of time on it. We got the emotions out, and I think making a decision to choose the most qualified applicant.”

Other notes:

--Tramblie also said that a brief outage on Puget Island on July 2 was caused by human error while the crew was making repairs.

--A water main upgrade on East Sunny Sands is nearly completed; a project to replace the transformer at the Wahkiakum County Courthouse is done; and the crew will head to Grays River soon to move an overhead section underground. It was built during an ice storm last February.

--Reid said that he had recently learned at a Washington PUD Association meeting that $19.8 million will soon be available through the state to help low income people catch up on their water bills.

--Commissioner Bob Jungers said that the wi-fi project planned for downtown Cathlamet and the marina was slowed by a contract and may not be ready to go for Bald Eagle Days as initially hoped.


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