County board to name members to GRHED commission


August 25, 2022

Wahkiakum County commissioners made plans to appoint members to the Grays River Habitat Enhancement District and touched on other issues when they met Tuesday.

The enhancement district is involved in efforts to improve flooding and drainage issues in the Valley. Membership on its board of commissioners waned in the past couple years, and efforts to reconstitute the board filled two of the three seats on the commission.

County commission Chair Gene Strong said Tuesday that one of the current habitat board commissioners, Krist Novoselic, is stepping down from the board, and Charles Shumar, the other habitat commissioner, was never officially appointed to the board. Shumar was named the board by its previous members; however, state law, Strong said, gives that authority to a county board of commissioners.

“Per Prosecuting Attorney Dan Bigelow, the board of county commissioners is responsible for appointing a person to the vacancy on the GRHED to serve until the next election,” Strong reported.

Five Valley residents have submitted letters of interest in filling the three vacancies. They are Shumar, Don Dyer, Susan Amala, Judith Johnson and Andrea Vincent.

Strong suggested the county commission review the letters and interview the candidates in closed session on Sept. 13 and then formally appoint three to the habitat board. Those appointees would fill unexpired terms until district residents could vote in an election.

The last habitat district election occurred in 2010, said county Auditor Nikki Bergseng.

In other business:

--Bergseng and Treasurer Tammy Peterson commented that the county had come through a state audit in good shape, with few recommendations for improvements.

The department heads said an important factor in the good audit was budgeting for services by a certified public accountant to help the officials improve reporting.

“It was a good job,” said Strong, who participated in the exit conference with the state auditor.

“Thank you,” Bergseng said. “We’re always learning, always learning, and we really appreciate that you (county commission) budgeted for a CPA. That really helped.”

--Fair board member Kay Walters commented that the county fair had been well attended and that people appreciated the paving that had been done. However, she and commissioners agreed that some fine tuning is needed where drops occur at the edges of the new surface.

--Commissioner Lee Tischer reported that three transportation projects will impact regional travel in 2023 and beyond.

The Lewis and Clark Bridge at Longview will be closed four days in 2023, he said, and that could divert much traffic to the Puget Island ferry.

Also in 2023, crews will stabilize the slide on SR 401 which has been reduced to one lane since early 2021.

That project, WSDOT communications officer Celeste Dimichina said in a Monday email to The Eagle, will go out to bid this fall.

Further in the future, Tischer said, will be replacement of the SR 4 bridge over Abernathy Creek east of the Wahkiakum County line. That project is in the design stage, Tischer said.


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