By Michele Smith
The Times 

Commissioners Discuss Code Enforcement and Fairgrounds Facilities


Staffers from McMorris Rodgers’s office also visited Columbia County last week

DAYTON—“A picture is worth a thousand words,” said Commissioner Merle Jackson, at the March 6 meeting of the Columbia County Commissioners.

Fairgrounds Facilities Improvement Plan Coordinator Meagan Bailey asked the commissioners to approve using some money from Planning and Building Special Assessments funds to pay for aerial photography of the fairground. The photos would be used to create a visual artistic vision for the Fairgrounds Facilities Committee to see when they meet again on March 15, Bailey said.

In talks with the commissioners Bailey said the goal for fairgrounds is to “reach a self-sustaining level for the whole facility.”

Commissioner Jackson agreed, pointing out that at the Walla Walla County Fairgrounds, only the director’s salary comes out of the county’s current expense budget, and the fairgrounds is otherwise self-sustaining.

County Planning Director Kim Lyonnaise reminded the commissioners that public input into the Facilities Improvement Plan is essential, and he said there will be a public hearing.

“We’re not going to design the vision. We’re going to ask people, what do you see in 20 years?” Lyonnaise said.

The Commissioners also gave their stamp of approval to the agreement between the county and the City of Dayton, for combining code enforcement efforts.

“This is a break-even for both entities,” said Chairman Mike Talbott. “It is a good deal.”

City Code Enforcement Officer Clint Atteberry will give the county eight hours of code enforcement at an annual cost to the county of $11,000. He will be using a city vehicle while on duty for the county. Lyonnaise said the move would free up more time in his office for other duties.

The BOCC also approved numerous changes to the county nuisance ordinance codes.

Deputy Sheriff Richard Loyd talked about some “holes” in communication between deputies, and the dispatch center, due to dead spots in radio coverage, in some areas of Dayton.

Loyd said the repeater site is failing, and pointed out that the voice over IP equipment, currently in use, will not be under warranty next year. He advised replacing two repeaters at a cost of $8,541.36, which will provide a temporary fix.

Loyd said that the whole system will need to be replaced with a simulcast type system. “We have already spent $1,300 this year for tech support,” he said.

Emergency Management Director Lisa Caldwell said there are grants through the Department of Homeland Security, which are for “shovel-ready” projects, and that was a potential source to tap into for replacing the repeaters.

Caldwell said it was also time to start thinking about utilizing the 1/10 of 1% sales tax for purchasing a simulcast type system.

Caldwell updated the commissioners about getting a public safety grant through Portland General Electric Co., to pay for Homeland Security Assistant Anne Higgins’s salary for the second part of 2017. WSU Extension Agent Paul Carter is helping with that, she said.

Caldwell said there will be a fire simulation exercise on April 20 at the Fairgrounds Pavilion, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

The commissioners approved line by line chemical bid openings, for chemicals which are used on county roads, and for fertilizer at the golf course, at the request of Andrew Woods, Public Works Director.

Woods told the commissioners the Utility Transportation Commission has not approved changes to Basin Disposal Inc.’s tariff, and he asked for a moratorium on a proposed fee decrease, from $94 per ton, to $85.21 per ton, until that is worked out.

A plan is in place for BDI to process refuse at the county’s transfer station, instead of hauling it to Pasco.

Woods presented the 2016 bridge inspection report to the commissioners for approval. Woods said the report is required annually, and represents a two-week effort by his staff. The report assigns efficiency rates to each bridge in the county.

Columbia County Auditor Sharon Richter and Columbia County Treasurer Audrey McLean, reviewed the fourth-quarter finances for 2016 and discussed with commissioners investment options for residual and regular investments. Placing a certain amount of money from reserves into a money market account at Washington Federal Bank was discussed.

McLean said that not much changed in December finances over finances in October and November.

Richter said that county departments “will need to be frugal” in 2017.

Commissioner Norm Passmore has asked that a memo be sent to all department heads asking them to perform only such work as is deemed necessary by RCWs.

Cathy Schaeffer and Mike Poulson from U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodger’s office visited with the commissioners at their March 6 meeting, as well.

Schaeffer and Poulson spoke about McMorris Rodgers’s work in her capacity as Chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, and on health and energy committees.

The commissioners talked to Schaeffer and Poulson about their concerns about rural health care in Columbia County, the likelihood of getting a farm bill passed, and the need for prioritizing healthy forests.

McMorris Rodgers plans to tackle reform of the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air, and Clean Water Acts, and will work to loosen EPA regulations that interfere with getting projects done in a timely manner, said Poulson.

Delaying shutdowns for dams on the Snake River, and improving access to care for military veterans is also important to McMorris Rodgers, they said.


Reader Comments


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2017