County commission discusses center, other projects
July 22, 2021
Editor: This story has been corrected. An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the town is responsible for utilities and maintenance; in fact the town is responsible for utilities and maintenance. In addition: The town owns the building and leases the building to Wahkiakum County for $1, and the town contributes $5K annually to help with staffing and maintenance.]
Wahkiakum County commissioners have named member Lee Tischer their delegate to discuss staffing issues of the Community Center in Cathlamet with other local entities.
In other business at Tuesday's meeting, commissioners denied three claims for damages, indicated support for covering the cost of moving a stream gauge at the Grays River Covered Bridge and heard a report of progress and issues for the county's computer system.
The position of community center manager is vacant, and county officials are considering how to fill it. It has been staffed through Health and Human Service Department (WHHS) grants or contracts, but WHHS Director Chris Bischoff reported at a previous meeting that the department has no budget for the position.
Community members have expressed concern that the center will close and have urged officials to find a way to employ a manager. The center is operated under a cooperative agreement between the county and the Town of Cathlamet. The county supplies staffing, and the town owns the facility and is responsible for utilities and maintenance. [An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the town is responsible for staffing and maintenance.]
"The community center will continue to operate until some other decision is made," Bischoff said Tuesday.
Representatives from the county, town and Wahkiakum Chamber of Commerce will meet in August to discuss staffing options, he said.
The board voted to appoint Tischer as the commission's representative to the meeting.
The board also named Tischer as their representative to another meeting to discuss options for development along the Cathlamet waterfront. The meeting is a special meeting of the town council next Tuesday, 2 p.m., also involving the Chamber and Port District 1.
In other business, commissioners rejected three claims for damages in which claimants said their vehicles had been damaged by rocks or wet road striping paint.
Tischer commented he felt that one from 2018 might have been paid if there had been more information provided. C. R. Biener of Naselle sought $300.05 for rock damage to a windshield. However, there was no follow up information or confirmation that a county truck was involved, he said.
"I would agree," said Commissioner Dan Cothren.
As for other claims, commissioners felt striping crews adequately warn drivers of wet paint, and a vehicle with rock damage to tire rims was an altered, lowered vehicle on a road safely traveled by vehicles with normal clearance.
Commissioners indicated they were likely to pay costs of moving a river level gauging station by the Covered Bridge. The station had been located downstream of the bridge but was moved close to the bridge earlier this year.
However, area landowners have commented that the new location with a solar panel and radio transmitter spoil the view of the historic structure, and they asked that the station be moved away.
Public Works Director Chuck Beyer said a rough estimate of moving the station is $3,000.
Commissioners discussed concerns about vandalism and seemed to agree that it would be better to have the equipment located away from the bridge and road.
"Come back when you have more definitive pricing," board Chair Gene Strong said to Beyer.
Commissioners also heard a quarterly report from Information Technologies Manager Josh Holt, who reported that installation of new servers for the county's computer system is progressing with setup and testing.
During a planned power outage in June, managers discovered they had 110 minutes of battery backup, that there were a few individual battery backups that needed to be replaced, and that while the county's aging emergency power generator worked, it didn't operate as it should have.
"The replacement of the currently aged out generator would be a great benefit to the county to keep the county running smoothly in case of emergency and power outage," Holt commented in his written report.
Holt also said future projects would include upgrading some department software, the phone system and firewall security and wrapping up a large covid-19 public records request.