Commissioners learn opioid settlement details

2 named to planning board


March 30, 2023

Wahkiakum County officials discussed details of how Washington is handling multi-million dollar settlements from suits against producers and distributors of opioid medications when they met Tuesday.

They also made appointments to the county planning commission and approved calls for bids on a variety of projects for various county departments and accepted a bid for annual mowing of county roadsides.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson brought the suits against the opioid producers and distributors; it resulted in a nationwide settlement of $21 billion.

There are two separate settlements, one with producers and another with distributors. After lawyers' fees are deducted, Washington will receive approximately $430 million from each to be divided evenly between the state and local governments.

Under one settlement,, Wahkiakum County's share will be $128,265.17 which will be split over 17 years; under the second, the settlement is $129,577.65 paid over 15 years.

Distribution of the funds will be complicated, said Prosecuting Attorney Dan Bigelow. There are a few different ways to set up the process, he said. Officials from Wahkiakum, Pacific, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason and Thurston counties will need to meet and choose one, and then lawyers from the counties can write the necessary documents.

At the county level, the funds will be fed into programs for services and prevention of opioid abuse.

The board appointed Commissioner Gene Strong to represent the county in meetings with other counties to set up the regional distribution program.

In other business:

--Commissioners approved a bid from Bushwhacker LLC for mowing on county road sides. Bushwhacker was the only bidder, coming in at $65 per roadside mile; with 944.94 miles to mow, the total was $66,089.36.

--The board filled two empty positions on the county planning commission. There were three candidates for for one position representing District 1, Puget Island, Stacey Lane, Bill Coons and Theresa Eykel. There was one candidate for District 2, Patrick Doumit. After recessing for a short executive session, the board reconvened and appointed Lane and Doumit to fill the vacancies. There is still an empty position to represent District 2.

--The board approved calls for bids for a walking path at the Health and Human Services Department's Elochoman campus, for a new jail inmate communication system, and for a new electrical panel and outside light at the Health Department's Hope Center Annex.


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