Monsoon in Montesano

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Man, oh man. If you’ve never had a chance to paddle around Montesano in a monsoon, you don’t know what you’re missin’! That’s okay. Yours truly was on the scene today for this morning’s Board of Commissioners workshop. These little clam bakes take place on first and third Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m. in  conference room 1. Monsoons not excepted.

A word about format here. These workshops are round table discussions. No action is taken. No decisions are made. The workshops are informal and open communication-ish. They’re also open to the public. (You do not have to be a chocoholic to attend. But it helps.) Sure beats wading around town in hip waders. Or BYO kayaking.

Anyway, the conference room was packed out for this morning’s soiree. Besides Commissioners Vickie Raines, Wes Cormier and Frank Gordon, attendees included HR Director Marilyn Lewis, Budget Director Brenda Sherman, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Norma Tillotson and about nine million people from the Roads Department. (Well, okay. Maybe it was just eight.)

Commissioner Raines opened the meeting to discuss equipment purchasing, equipment repair and all that good roads-ish stuff, “So we’re all on the same page.” She said to the Road Guys, “This is your opportunity to tell us what your needs are.”

Commissioner Cormier asked, “Do you guys have a priority list so you know what to buy?” A discussion of the need to have a short term and a long term plan in place related to this question ensued.

Raines asked about a long-term procurement plan. The Roads response was that it “doesn’t really work that way,” because each piece of equipment is “used differently.” Bottom line: Everything Roads has is old. (Think Methusaleh. Or close.) But still in good shape. (Think creaky Methuselah.)

Yea, verily. I learned more about loaders, graders, and excavators than I ever wanted to know. Ditto credit card policies and P.O.s. Liability and safety issues. Ice. Downed trees. Reader boards. Summer chip sealing. Rain gear (don’t ask).

Does anyone know what an “attenuator” is?

Btw, the days of “free for all” in obtaining a purchase order are gone. The process has been considerably tightened up lately to keep a closer eye on spending. You’ll be glad to hear that all the Road Guys sounded price and budget conscious to a fault.

Commissioner Gordon also chimed in about keeping beach roads open, possibly getting an “adju$tment” from the state on the effort.

Oh, if you’re not quite awake at 10:30 a.m., day glo yellow and hunter orange will do it. Just sayin’.

Multi-person convos erupted at one point. They were congenial. I just couldn’t follow everything when there were like, five people all talking at once. I did hear Commissioner Cormier say, “We’re going to do this with all the departments” – that is, pursue and promote improved communication across the board.

Post-Road Guys, Tillotson, Interim Facilities Director Mark Cox and the commissioners discussed re-negotiating the lease on Straddleline ORV Park. Rather than re-upping the current five year lease, Tillotson suggested a one year lease “to bridge the gap” and give the county more time to get accurate income and expense numbers from the park promoters/operators. She also noted the need for a “fair market value lease amount”related to the lease as required by statute. Raines stepped out to head to another previously scheduled meeting.

The ORV park peeps want the county to take over maintenance of equipment (equipment is county-owned but operated by the park), and for the new lease to include a four-month payment exemption when they’re not operating during the winter months.

No one was turning hand springs over that proposal.

Commish Cormier said he sees three options regarding the lease with the ORV park: 1) Let the people running it keep running it and the county gets sales tax revenues from the operation; 2) Shut it down and accrue associated costs vis-à-vis Thurston County; 3) Have the county try to run it again (which it tried to do before. That was an epic fail).

Door #3 was not very popular. Neither was Door #2.

Btw again, the storm water/drainage fees Thurston County is assessing on this property are “insane.” According to Cox, the county has attempted to reduce these fees by “remediating” portions of the park by planting grass to help with drainage issues. We’ll see how that plays out.

Commish Gordon suggested implementing a $$ system with the park similar to what the fair has in place, wherein vendors pay per booth and a percentage of their sales go to the fair. We’ll see again.

Oh, yeah. Twin Bridges Park may need a new well. Something about heavy iron deposits in the water making it non-potable. Grant $ may be available.

The costs on the remodel of the caretaker’s house at Vance Creek County Park are estimated at about $10K to date, excluding labor.

The meeting concluded shortly before noon.

We will now return you to our regularly scheduled monsoon…






Hugh ChevallierCreative Commons Licence.