Commissioners support patrol boat purchase


October 27, 2022

In a session that didn't end, Wahkiakum County commissioners on Tuesday approved a variety of purchases and personnel moves and started meeting with department heads to discuss 2023 budget requests.

Commissioners authorized the sheriff's department to pursue purchase of a surplus NOAA Fisheries aluminum patrol boat. Undersheriff Gary Howell said it appears the department is the leading bidder in the auction for the boat, but because it belongs to a federal agency, another federal agency could take priority and claim the boat.

The bid stands at $3,800, and Howell said the estimate for bringing it from Sitka, Alaska, is $8,000 to $10,000.

Puget Island resident Jason Will questioned the need for replacing the county's current patrol boat.

Howell responded that the department has recently responded to several search and rescue events, including drownings. The new boat would be a larger and safer craft, he said.

Howell and commission Chair Gene Strong commented that the current boat is reaching the end of its life span; some welds have failed, they said, and there are pinhole cracks in the hull.

Commissioners approved an eight hour closure of Covered Bridge Road on November 1 so the road crew can make repairs to the bridge.

Public Works Director Chuck Beyer said a support column has rot and needs to be replaced, and a stump struck the bridge during a freshet last winter and damaged a wall.

The closure was approved from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. next Tuesday.

Treasurer Tammy Peterson reported a committee planning landscaping improvements to courthouse grounds has consulted with landscaper Forrest Mora, who has developed some preliminary recommendations.

Committee members said the grounds are overgrown and should be razed.

Mora told the board he would recommend clearing the shrubs and trees, opening up the yard so that it could accommodate a crowd at public events. He would investigate an underground irrigation system that hasn't been used in years.

Cost of the project could range from $138,000 to $190,000, Peterson said, with the Capital Improvement Fund covering the expenditure.

By consensus, commissioners agreed the committee should continue the landscape planning.

In other business, the board approved a proposal from the sheriff's department to change the job description of the emergency services director from a full-time position to a halftime position combined with a new halftime I.T. tech position.

After finishing the business portion of their agenda, commissoners met with department heads to discuss 2023 budget requests. They recessed their meeting to resume Wednesday and again on Thursday to go over requests.


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