Council hears reports, celebrates local cheese


August 18, 2022

Cathlamet town council members celebrated local cheese when they met Monday, and also considered various inedible items.

Mayor David Olson began the night with a proclamation recognizing August 2022 as Little Island Creamery Brie Cheese Month. The honor was given in recognition of the local dairy’s win in the brie division of this year’s American Cheese Society competition.

“There’s an awful lot of cheese lovers trying to pronounce Cathlamet right now,” Olson joked, adding that Lori Dietz, head cheesemaker for the creamery, is raising money to attend a cheesemaking course in France next January. Further details can be found in the August 11 edition of The Eagle.

Wahkiakum Sheriff Mark Howie attended the meeting to offer his quarterly report to the council. Well-being was the theme as he showed off a photo of Undersheriff Gary Howell’s new puppy Molly, who is in training to serve the county as a trauma response dog, and Howie shared information about a wellness app that is now available at no charge to all sheriff’s department employees and their families.

Howie provided information about the emergency radio communications sales and use tax proposal that will be on the ballot this November. The proposed increase in sales tax would create a fund for upgrades, repairs, and maintenance to the county’s emergency radio system, which is used by law enforcement, fire, emergency medical services, public works, public utilities, the school district, town staff, and others responding to emergencies in Wahkiakum County.

The current system was last upgraded in 2005 and has pockets of limited or absent coverage in remote areas of the county, which could delay response times in those areas in case of emergencies.

“Compare that to using a cell phone from 2005 versus a modern phone,” said Howie.

Funding the upgrade with sales tax revenue means that visitors to the area will support access to emergency services which they might well need to utilize, he added. Leaders are working to secure federal funding as well.

Council member Robert Stowe questioned Howie about the process for towing an abandoned vehicle from the Glengate neighborhood, where Stowe resides.

Given that Glengate residents belong to a homeowners’ association (HOA), enforcement of traffic regulations is a bit more complicated than in other parts of the town, said Howie. He and town attorney Fred Johnson offered to meet with Glengate residents to discuss the situation, plus speed limit enforcement, in light of their HOA agreement. Howie also pledged to review the matter with Prosecuting Attorney Dan Bigelow.

Town utility customer Richard Bigler asked the council to consider relocating water lines near his home along SR 4. Water customers are responsible for maintaining the lines between the town’s meter and their homes. At the time that Bigler’s residence was connected to the town’s water system 40 years ago, the nearest main was located half a mile away, leading to construction of a long line prone to leaks and low water pressure. Recently, tree root encroachment into the line led to a large leak.

Bigler noted that development across the highway from his home meant that the town’s lines have been extended much closer to his home, with a water hydrant located only 250 feet away at Thelma Terrance. He asked for the town to consider connecting his residence to that portion of the water system instead.

Given that Gray & Osborne, the town’s engineering consultants, are currently investigating water pressure issues in the Greenwood Road area, this request could be investigated as part of that project, commented Mayor Olson. The matter was referred to the town Public Works department, with a request for a report back to the council in September.

Continuing with the theme of water, Ecology’s Michelle McConnell outlined the periodic review process for the town’s Shoreline Master Program (SMP), which was last updated in 2019. Washington’s Shoreline Management Act requires local SMPs to be reviewed on a regular schedule and revised as needed, so that the documents are up to date with changes in state laws and local regulations.

Links to a community survey about public input and comprehensive documents about the local SMP can be found on the town’s website. The survey will remain open through August 29. Stakeholders have received an email inviting them to comment. The council will be briefed on survey results and determine next steps at their September 6 meeting.

Following up from a discussion at the council’s previous meeting, council members considered what signage is needed to direct visitors to area amenities. Council members mentioned signs directing visitors to public restrooms and public parking as the top two priorities, with the town hall, town dock, museum, sheriff’s office, marina, and parks as additional points of interest. No action was taken, but council members expressed interest in moving forward with signage should funding be secured.

The council closed the meeting with a unanimous vote authorizing Olson to sign the 2022-2023 summation segment for the town’s contract with Wahkiakum PUD to supply water to the Puget Island Water System. The contract requires annual rate calculation and approval by both parties.

A similar motion was on the agenda for the PUD commissioners’ meeting on Tuesday morning, town Clerk – Treasurer Sarah Clark reported. The council commended her for her work on preparing the calculations.


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