Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

County commission OK's spare engine for county ferry

Wahkiakum County Commissioners on Tuesday authorized the purchase of a spare engine for the ferry Oscar B.

Commissioners also authorized the Public Works Department to contract with an engineering firm to survey county bridges, and they approved an update of a sheriff's office contract with the Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) for occasional housing of prisoners in the county jail.

The Oscar B. has two main engines, and the new engine will be a spare. It will be installed when the older of the two engines in service reaches maximum recommended hours of use if it fails.

"We have one getting up there in hours," said Public Works Director Chuck Beyer. "It's better to have one on the shelf ready to go."

He added that the pandemic has disrupted supply issues for parts, and Commissioner Lee Tischer said an unexpected failure could result in a long closure of service if parts weren't available.

Beyer said the estimated cost of the new engine is around $40,000.

Commissioners approved a request from Beyer to contract with Trans Tech Engineering, Inc., for inspection of county bridges.

The inspections are needed to meet federally required engineering and maintenance standards.

The estimated cost of the two-year contract is $99,538.

Commissioners also approved a request from Sheriff Mark Howie to update a contract with Washington DOC for occasional housing of prisoners in the county jail.

DOC has rarely used the jail for prisoners, Howie said. The daily rate per prisoner is increased $4.43 to a total of $93.03 per day.

In making commissioners' reports, Commissioner Dan Cothren said the county's application to the Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board for funding to support replacement of a culvert at Clear Creek on the Elochoman Valley Road didn't score high enough to be funded.

"We'll have to resubmit," he said.

The project involves replacing a culvert that is a barrier to spawning fish and raising the level of the road.

Cothren also reported a meeting he attended with representatives of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the Lower Columbia Land Trust to discuss conservation issues in the county.

The group also discussed the future of the WDFW Grays River Salmon Hatchery, which is being closed. The hatchery is accessed through Wahkiakum County but actually lies in Pacific County.

Cothren commented he would like to see some use of the hatchery buildings.

"I just have a real problem with the buildings being destroyed," he said. "It was our tax dollars that went into them."


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