County pursues opioid settlement


Wahkiakum County officials took steps Tuesday to participate in settlements of two suits against opioid pill producers and distributors.

Commissioners also proclaimed March as Red Cross Month, approved letters of support for Wahkiakum PUD's application for a grant to search for an alternate supply for the Puget Island Water System and discussed other items of interest.

The county's share for the opioid suit settlements would probably be about $257,842 and be spread over 17 years, about $15,000 per year. The money is to be directed to programs serving the jail, sheriff's office or Health and Human Services Department.

"There are very few restrictions," said H&HS spokesperson Duncan Cruickshank. The money is intended "to best meet the needs of people with opioid addiction, from prescription pills, not heroin."

In a brief discussion officials suggested the money might best be used for services in the jail.

"When the sheriff comes back, we can discuss it with him," said Commissioner Gene Strong.

In other business:

--Public Works Director Chuck Beyer reported that the road crew had conducted a speed study on Columbia Street and found that most drivers were going close to the speed limit. The average was 27 miles per hour, he said.

The study was conducted at the request of Town of Cathlamet officials who have had public comments complaining of speeding drivers.

--Commissioners Strong and Lee Tischer reported that legislation to increase state funding of the county ferry service had passed out of committee.

"It's really positive," Strong said.

Tischer commented that an amendment to the bill would cap the funding level, and he hoped that could be dropped in the final version.

--Commissioners appointed Kenneth Quick to fill a vacancy on the county Board of Equalization.

--As the board passed a proclamation honoring the work of the Red Cross, regional spokesperson Michael Drake said the agency is staffed by 2,500 volunteers from six counties. He added that the regional board lacks a member from Wahkiakum County and would welcome someone to fill that role.


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