Commissioners cover spray, covid, finances

 

August 19, 2021



Wahkiakum County officials covered a lot of ground, much of it from public comment, when the board of commissioners met Tuesday.

Middle Valley resident Jerry Ledtke reported that recent herbicide spraying had apparently led to the death of six cattle on his land, and he urged the board of commissioners to look into the county spray program.

It appeared the application took place around a road culvert for a stream draining into land he had rented to another person who had 140 animals on the land. The person has had the animals autopsied and reported the incident to state and federal authorities. The person has moved the cattle, Ledtke said, causing him a significant loss of income.

"Let us do some fact finding," Commissioner Dan Cothren said after some discussion. "If this happened, it will be remedied."

Two speakers wanted to discuss issues concerning public health and covid-19.

Season Long raised the issue of the governor requiring vaccinations for most state executive branch employees and on-site contractors and volunteers, along with public and private health care and long-term care workers.

Long said she believes the mandate violates provisions of the US Constitution and amendments guaranteeing rights of privacy and due process.

"The problem is that these states are controlled by judges," Cothren said. "A lot of what they're doing is unconstitutional."

Wahkiakum Chamber of Commerce Director Stacy Lane commented that the mandates might be applicable to urban regions but aren't necessarily applicable to rural areas, and that can adversely affect local economies.

"If we don't start standing up and speaking out, we'll be run over," she said.

Commissioner Gene Strong and health department Director Chris Bischoff said the county and health department by law must follow the directives of the governor and state Department of Health.

If the county refused to follow the covid-19 response guidelines, Bischoff said, the state could revoke its license to practice, and that would disrupt the department's mental health and substance programs as well as health department activities.


Strong said he would confer with Prosecuting Attorney Dan Bigelow about possible county action.

"I understand we can't shut down behavioral health and mental health," he said.

Treasurer Tammy Peterson led the board through a quarterly report on county finances. Highlights included:

--The state Department of Revenue (DOR) earlier this year notified counties that it had made an error in the formula used to distribute timber excise taxes collected from the harvest of timber on private land.

The county will need to repay $81,000, she said; of that, $44,000 will come from the county and the balance, $37,000, will come from the junior taxing districts.

--The county has received $403,870 in federal pandemic relief funds, Peterson said. She and Auditor Nicci Bergseng are studying how the funds can be used. Peterson said she believes almost all can be used to offset the loss of revenue to the Current Expense Fund in 2020.


 

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