Commissioners update H&Hs advisory board, OK TOC law agreement


December 30, 2021

Wahkiakum County commissioners on Tuesday wrapped up their 2021 year by updating some contracts for the Health & Human Services Department, signing an interlocal agreement with the Town of Cathlamet for law enforcement services and amending the structure of the county Health & Human Services advisory board.

They finished their meeting by voting to keep the same offices they'd held in 2021 with Gene Strong continuing as chair of the board and Lee Tischer as vice-chair.

The Cathlamet Town Council approved the law enforcement agreement at their Dec. 20 meeting, and the board's action completes the pact.

Undersheriff Gary Howell commented that Sheriff Mark Howie had negotiated terms with town officials and reviewed the agreement with Prosecuting Attorney Dan Bigelow.

"I know the sheriff was happy with all the provisions," Howell said.

The county agreed to 1. patrol on a schedule determined by the sheriff's office, 2. respond to complaints received from town residents, 3. provide jail services, 4. handle emergency communications dispatching; 5. provide regular patrol of Main Street for overtime parking and other violations of parking and related violations; with a schedule of enforcement based on consultation between the sheriff and town officials, 6. enforce state laws relating to dangerous dogs within the town, 7. enforce town speeding ordinances for speeding on Main and Columbia streets, with the town and county cooperating to establish a 25 miles-per-hour limit the entire length of Columbia Street, and 8. work with the town and Glengate Home Owners Association in developing an agreement which would enable the sheriff's office to enforce speeding violations within the Glengate Subdivision.

The last two provisions came from requests from the council at their Dec. 20 meeting.

Eight years ago, parking was limited to two hours on much of Main Street, but that was cancelled by order of Mayor Dale Jacobson.

Columbia Street has a 25 mph limit between Main Street and Jacobson Road; it is higher between Jacobson Road and SR 4. Council members suggested lowering the limit to 25 mph the entire length to improve safety, especially around St. James Family Center.

The town will pay $104,000 for services in 2022 and increase the fee 4 percent annually to $116,985.86 in 2026, the final year of the agreement.

The agreement also provides that the sheriff or his designee shall appear at council meetings in January, May and September to report on services provided and answer questions or concerns raised by the council.

In other business, the commission updated the structure of the H&HS Advisory Committee to meet provisions of new state law.

H&HS Director Chris Bischoff said the new law requires an expansion of the committee from the present three members to at least five members, and it sets targets for including people from diverse ethnic groups. The new law also requires a more formal meeting structure under provisions for public meetings.

The county commission will remain as the county's board of health, he added.

The new law recommends members be "broadly representative of the character of the community. Membership preference shall be given to tribal, racial, ethnic and other minorities. The advisory board must consist of a balance of members with expertise, career experience, and consumer experience in areas impacting public health and populations served by the health department."

Bischoff said that recruiting members for the board has been challenging in the past.

"We've never been able to get that board fully staffed," he said. "We will certainly focus on that in the first quarter of next year."


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