State commissioners hear county concerns
September 21, 2023
Commissioners from across the state were expected to arrive in Cathlamet on Thursday morning as part of a plan from the Washington State Association of Counties’ Legislative Steering Committee to give them a first hand view of the variety of concerns facing rural counties.
Wahkiakum County Commissioner Lee Tischer was initially nervous about being the first county on the list for visits, but the feeling turned to disappointment as one commissioner after another canceled their trip to southwest Washington.
Thankfully, it still turned out to be a successful and enjoyable day for the people in attendance, including Skagit County Commissioner Lisa Janicki, who commented on the impact of the visit and how it really brought home the unique struggles of this particular county. Janicki will step into the role of WSAC president in the coming year.
After introductions at the Wahkiakum County Courthouse and an overview on the county from
Tischer, the group heard from Wahkiakum School District Superintendent Brent Freeman, the Wahkiakum County Treasurer Tammy Peterson, and Wahkiakum County Sheriff Mark Howie.
The rest of the day included a trip on the ferry, and a visit to a property on Puget Island’s Pancake Point to see how erosion is continuing to cause problems. Commissioner Tischer said the erosion was being caused by a lack of maintenance to nearby jetties.
The group then headed over KM to check out areas affected by flooding in the Westend before meeting Representative Jim Walsh for lunch at Hunters Inn in Naselle. The group continued an earlier conversation about funding Wahkiakum was expecting to receive from the Department of Natural Resources for encumbered lands.
According to Tischer, that conversation proved to be fruitful, as he received an email the next day from DNR about setting up a meeting with the three counties who were to receive those funds, and how to disperse the money.
“That will be over a million dollars to help our budget out,” Tischer said.
After lunch, the tour continued to several locations in Pacific County, including their courthouse, and Goose Point Oysters, where the group was able to see the plant and jump in a boat to view the oyster beds.
Representative Joel McEntire met them for dinner, and they continued to talk about county issues.
“It was a full day, but a lot of good came from it,” Tischer said. “It was good for the [other commissioners] to hear the struggles of a tiny county. Our budget is pocket dust to a lot of those counties.”