Contract Dough, Condolences on Commission Plates

Recipe Kitchen Dough Italian Cook Flour

Contracts and how to fund them have been big on county commissioner plates lately. In the last couple weeks Grays Harbor County Commissioners have approved amendments/modifications related to medical/behavioral health contracts per the county jail. Amendments to a contract with Greater Grays Harbor Inc. are also on the menu.

At this afternoon’s regular business meeting, the commissioners approved an amended contract for County Jail Physician’s Services Behavioral Health. The amended contract includes an increase of nearly $54,000 through the end of the year.

The commissioners unanimously approved the increase for January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2017. The increase is from $170,916 to $224,910. That figure corrects a prior calculation that was incorrect.

Also approved this afternoon was a $30,955 tran$fer from public safety sales tax $ to pay expenses associated with the jail for security.

Commissioners Vickie Raines and Randy Ross approved modifications to a professional services contract for jail medical services last Monday. The modified contract with Dr. Yong Ki Shin was approved unanimously by Ross and Raines. Commissioner Wes Cormier was out of town on county business.

The mods to the professional services contract with Shin represent an additional $350K/year over what the county is now paying. The mods are required to meet updated state and federal standards for said jail medical services. That contract includes medical staffing for two-thirds of the day. For additional background, see: Updated Jail Medical Services Contract Pinches County Pockets.

Questions about funding for these increases – how and from where – remain. “We need to have a workshop on it so we can all get our heads around it,” observed Raines.

Commissioner Raines also said she’s received significant feedback from health professionals on the professional services contract going out to bid. Look for a revisit in the fall.

$peaking of dough, the commissioners decided to shift an agenda item to rescind an Economic Development Funding Agreement with Greater Grays Harbor and authorize a new contract to June 5. This will allow for review and input from the GGHI Chair. (County offices will be closed next Monday to observe Memorial Day.)

The original funding agreement was approved on April 3. It spilled over into an April 18 workshop and discussions with Aberdeen Mayor Erik Larson and GGHI CEO Dru Garson. 

At issue was Commissioner Wes Cormier’s proposal for specific performance benchmarks or ‘deliverables‘ GGHI is expected to meet in relation to receiving a record $88K in county support. Here are the “deliverables/reporting requirements” from a draft of the contract:

Cormier’s proposed addendum prompted Larson to pen a prickly letter to the editor in April calling the commissioner’s motives into question. 

For background, see: Commissioners Dig Into Deliverables, Ballot Boxes & Bucks. and  ‘Cold Calls’ a Sticking Point in County Agreement With GGHI.

One other thing. Commissioner Ross suggested inviting legislators from the 19th and 24th LDs for a workshop discussion on additional unfunded state mandates that may be coming down the puke. I mean… pike

Also, if you’re among the head-banging music at nose bleed volume contingent, an updated noise ordinance is also on the table. It will allow the sheriff’s office to issue citations for excessive noise in residential areas. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

During this afternoon’s public comment period, Commissioner Raines said Keith Olson passed away on May 18. Noting that Olson was a former rival for her commission seat, Raines said “We quickly became very good friends.” She said Olson “leaves quite a legacy of community service.” Also that Olson “fought for the little guy and stood up for property rights. I will miss him,” she said. The Board expressed its condolences to the Olson family.

One other, other thing. The courthouse flag is now “skimpishly” lit. And sunny, warm days like today have been as scarce as a slim sow around here lately. So I really, really hope you’re reading this pool side. Or in a chaise lounge somewhere in the Great Outdoors. In shorts. Maybe with an umbrella drink. And SPF 50. With a wide-brimmed hat. I am. 😉


Imagine you’re a little kid. You have to testify in court.

 Are you scared spitless? Anxiety level skimming triple digits? Are you stomach churning, palms sweating, ready-to-hurl stressed out?

Now imagine you’ve got a friend. A friend who wrote the book on loyalty and love. Unconditional support. Companionship. 

A friend with warm amber eyes. Floppy ears. A fur coat the color of toasted marshmallows.

That friend would be Louie. A specially trained two year old yellow Lab, Louie is a newly arrived “comfort dog” working with the Children’s Advocacy Center of Grays Harbor. 

Louie and the Center’s Executive Director Sue Bucy were making the rounds at county today, where he was introduced to judges and county commissioners.  (I’m not going to say Louie was the highlight of the afternoon. Oh, bother. OF COURSE he was!)

Isn’t he a beauty?

Louie’s job is to provide “comfort and support” to children with the Center. That includes working with abused children, accompanying  kids to court, and sitting in on their forensic appointments.

Louie was trained at Canine Companions in Santa Rosa, California, said Bucy. He also went to Chicago for additional training. He then returned to Santa Rosa for six months of “in-depth training.” 

Louie knows about 40 commands. He’s valued at about $50K according to Bucy. He comes at no cost to the county explained County Prosecutor Katie Svoboda. Local vets are also donating veterinary care.

Louie meets County Commissioners.

Louie’s a dead ringer for ‘my best girl,’ Eve. She passed away in 2013.

Is this place great, or what?

Cartwheels at County

Unless you’re dying to hear about a proposed update/modification on the jail medical contract and whether or not the current service is adequate per state/fed standards, or negotiation$ related to the Union Gospel Mission, there wasn’t a whole lot to turn cartwheels over at today’s morning meeting of the Board of County Commissioners.

Okay. Since you asked, an updated contract with local physician Dr. Yong Ki Shin to provide medical services for the jail was under discussion this morning. Sheriff Rick Scott, Police Chief Davis and Dr. Shin fielded questions. 

Main concerns voiced by both the commissioners and law enforcement focused on risk pool, liability, and indemnification. Deputy Prosecutor Norma Tillotson provided input on the above. A major component of the contract modification is a proposed increase in medical malpractice from $1M to $3M.

Regarding the contract mods, Commissioner Randy Ross said the commission is “not in any hurry. Let’s do it right.”

Commissioner Wes Cormier indicated he may abstain from any vote on the mods because Dr. Shin’s wife is his doctor.

Commissioner Vickie Raines expressed concern that the mods haven’t yet been reviewed by the Health and Human Services Advisory Board. She asked Scott how he’s budgeting for the mods. Scott responded that it’s “up to the Board as to which budget stream they want to tap into” to cover the proposed increase in liability/malpractice coverage. The cost is expected to be nominal. 

Regarding the modified contract, Scott said, “I’m good with it if Dr. Shin is.”

Dr. Shin chimed in with a couple cost savings options. Like “telemedicine” from midnight to 0800 instead of having a nurse physically on site during those hours. Also tapping into local nursing staff to be on call instead of an outside-the-county entity.

Look for Board action on the matter next Monday.

Spring in Monte!

Karolyn Holden, Director of Public Health, was on hand to request Board approval to negotiate “up to $250K” to enhance renovation and reconstruction at the Union Gospel Mission in Aberdeen. She noted that this work has been “ongoing” since 2013. Grants are paying for a “significant portion” of the renovation costs. But plumbing, foundation and structural issues came to light in February 2017 such that the county has been approached for help. 

Such help would be strictly limited to renovations/upgrades related to “non-proselytizing” portions of the facility. This includes upgrades to the male shelter and for shower and laundry facilities where “proselytizing” does not occur. In case you were wondering.

With that ironed out, the commishes approved Holden’s request to negotiate for the needed funds.(I’m not exactly sure what that means. If you figure it out, holler.)

Commissioner Randy Ross observed that this endeavor may preclude Aberdeen Mayor Erik Larson’s pursuit of an “urban rest stop” comfort station-type facility in the area.

(no extra charge): If Commissioner Raines ever suggests visiting the Corn Dog Castle at Disneyland, do it.

Other tip: Chief Davis’s weekend golf game was officially “terrible.”

Other, other tip: Legoland has “amazing” buffets. ☺ 

I am now going outside to work on my cartwheels. See ya!

County Rescinds Gateway Center Advisory Vote, Backs Away From Center Ownership

A public advisory vote on the proposed Gateway Center in Aberdeen is off the table, as is potential county ownership of the building.

Proposed by Commissioner Wes Cormier, the advisory  vote was approved by the commissioners last month. It was headed to the August ballot. The commissioners voted to rescind the measure at this afternoon’s meeting on a 2 to 1 vote. Commissioners Vickie Raines and Randy Ross voted Aye to rescind. Commissioner Cormier voted Nay. (More on that in a minute. Don’t go away.)

Commissioner Vickie Raines initiated this morning’s discussion on the resolution to rescind. Explaining that timing was an issue, Raines noted that she wanted to address the topic today rather than next week when Commissioner Cormier will be unavailable. 

Stressing her personal support for the Center, Raines said she applauds efforts by the City of Aberdeen and Mayor Larson to revive the project “following an extremely difficult and lengthy recession.” Her remarks were made via a written statement Raines read and provided this morning. She read the statement at the afternoon meeting, adding  “including potential ownership and operation” to the final paragraph. See below for the full text.

Raines outlined her reasons for moving to “rescind the Advisory Ballot regarding the Count’s (sic) direct involvement with the (Gateway Center) facility.” She backed away from county ownership or operation of the facility, saying in part:

“At this juncture, I believe  it is up to Enterprise Center supporters, including myself, to champion this project and see it cross the finish line. ..

I am not of the belief that the Grays Harbor County Government needs to intercept the forward momentum, but rather team up and individually support the Grays Harbor Enterprise Center…, if we choose.”

Cormier said the reason he brought forward the advisory vote was because he doesn’t want the county “to own or operate the Center.”

Raines replied that commissioners are elected to do a job that sometimes includes making hard decisions “This is one of those decisions” she said, adding that the county already has responsibility for other facilities. She reiterated that there  are “too many unanswered concerns and questions” surrounding the Center. “I think we need to look in our own backyard and take care of what we have” she said.

Raines also commented that previous commissions took the route of “no maintenance” on county facilities. “We need to step up and address that” she observed. She emphasized that while she still supports the project, she’d rather step away and let the City of Aberdeen move forward with it instead of  the county.

Commissioner Randy Ross likewise voiced his personal support for the project, but “has some concerns” similar to those expressed by Raines. He said the county lacks the funds to repair its current facilities, citing the fairgrounds as an example. Regarding the advisory vote, Ross said county government is a representative form of government, not a populist one.

Cormier responded that the commissioners had to vote to approve a loan to address fairground repair costs. He disagreed with Ross’s fairground comparison, saying the fairgrounds are a county concern but the Gateway Center has never been a county project. “We didn’t start the (Gateway) project and we didn’t weigh in until it came to us” he said.

“There’s no reason why we can’t go out to an advisory vote” Cormier reiterated. “If the City of Aberdeen is selling this as a countywide project, we should seriously consider letting this go to the people” as an advisory vote.

Raines asked Cormier why an advisory vote is still needed if “I just agreed with you” that the county shouldn’t own or operate the facility? 

Cormier replied that different involvements with many different municipalities and stakeholders necessitates broader feedback. “When you have multiple jurisdictions involved, why not get a vote of the peopke?” he asked.

All commissioners agreed that the county shouldn’t own or operate another facility until a capital facilities plan is in place.

Approved by the commissioners on March 27, here’s how the original resolution authorizing  the county auditor to place an advisory vote on the Center on the August ballot reads:

Here’s today’s resolution rescinding the above and directing the county auditor to remove the measure from the August ballot:

Some confusion/a misunderstanding regarding the resolution was cleared up during the afternoon media Q and A session. 

At that session, Raines said she didn’t think an advisory vote was needed because “I’ve agreed with Commissioner Cormier that the county shouldn’t own or operate the facility.” She said the city should pursue the project on its own, “Let the city do what they want to do.” She agreed with Cormier that the county shouldn’t be “in the landlord business” related to the Gateway Center. “I strongly  support the project” Raines clarified, but said she doesn’t see how the county can assume ownership of another building when other county-owned buildings need attention and funds. 

Harkening back to last summer’s county buy of the  Byles building, which Cormier opposed, Raines said she now agrees with Cormier opposition to that purchase. The purchase appeared to be a good deal at the time in light of requirements for a third courthouse, she said. But she now agrees with Cormier per fiscal concerns.

Cormier later said he would’ve joined fellow commissioners regarding the resolution to rescind the advisory vote, but he misunderstood the morning discussion. He apologized for any confusion.”I don’t get involved in city business” said Cormier. “I don’t want to step on their toes. I only commented on the Gateway Center when it came to our door.” 

Ross likewise said he’s not a strong supporter of county ownership of the building, but would support some county involvement if the county uses the facility.

‘Cold Calls’ a $ticking Point In County Agreement With GGHI

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Grays Harbor County Commissioners and representatives from Greater Grays Harbor, Inc. engaged in a lengthy and sometimes lively discussion at this morning’s commissioner workshop.

At issue was Commissioner Wes Cormier’s proposal for specific benchmarks or ‘deliverables‘ GGHI is expected to meet in relation to receiving a record $88K in county support. Whether or not the county can or should require additional deliverables – performance benchmarks – beyond what the state requires of GGHI was also at issue. (For background, see: Commissioners Dig Into Deliverables, Ballot Boxes & Bucks.)

The forty minute discussion, which was spirited at intervals, included Commissioners Wes Cormier, Vickie Raines, Randy Ross, and GGHI Executive Director Dru Garson and GGHI Chair Dave Ward, respectively. (If you ever want to see some really, really awesome pics of hiking Mount Saint Helens on a clear, sunny day in April, ask Dave.)

Much of the conversation related to Cormier’s proposal to include additional “deliverables” – including a specified number of “cold calls” – related to the funding agreement.

Continue reading “‘Cold Calls’ a $ticking Point In County Agreement With GGHI”

Commissioners Dig Into ‘Deliverables,’ Ballot Boxes & Bucks

Deliverables’ related to funding for Greater Grays Harbor Inc.and ‘community ballot boxes’ were among the topics on the table at today’s county commission meetings.

Commissioner Wes Cormier recently proposed a new level of accountability tied to county support for GGHI. Cormier, a long-time fiscal falcon, set a number of specific benchmarks or ‘deliverables‘ GGHI is expected to meet in relation to receiving a record $88K.

This morning Commissioner Vickie Raines cited a draft of the document detailing the agreement approved last week, suggesting it be put back on the agenda to “make sure the deliverables were added on to the draft.” She said she’s aware that Cormier has had conversations with Dru Garson of GGHI about trancending Department of Commerce reporting presently in place.

Cormier asked Raines what she disliked about the deliverables. Raines replied she just wants to review them. Commissioner Randy Ross said he wanted to “bring Dru (Garson) back and talk more” about deliverables, possibly in a workshop.

Raines questioned Cormier’s requirement that GGHI make a certain number of ‘cold calls’ per month. Citing her long experience in the insurance industry she said, “I don’t think cold calls work.”

Cormier proposed that county support for GGHI be conditioned upon/tied to specific deliverables, including a minimum of 30 cold calls to regional businesses in primary and secondary industries. Also at least 22 cold calls to similar out of state businesses within the reporting time frame. GGHI is expected to present a ‘progress report’ by June 30, 2017. A final report is to be presented to the commission at the end of the year.

Cormier countered Raines’ observation with information from Forbes to the contrary. “It’s one cold call a week,” he noted. Cormier also pointed out that for $88K a year, the county could hire someone to do same or similar.

Apparently accountability with taxpayer moola may not be sitting too well with Aberdeen Mayor Erik Larson. Cormier said, “The mayor (Larson) has gotten a little personal with me in some of his comments” on the topic.

At the afternoon media Q and A session, Doug McDowell of KBBK asked the commishes to weigh in on Larson’s comments/letter to the editor. Raines and Ross declined comment. Cormier said, “I find it interesting. I don’t know if I’m going to respond. I haven’t decided.” 

Cormier noted that Larson wasn’t part of the conversation between GGHI and the county. He reiterated, “I do not want the county to provide funds for the Gateway Center” related to tourism.

Connect those dots.

Look for a revisit on ‘deliverables,’ et. al., possibly at a commission workshop.

Community Ballot Boxes?

Moving on, Raines noted conversations she had with state legislators last week, including Rep, Brian Blake (D-19) and State Senator Kevin Van De Wege (D-24). Possible placement of voter ballot boxes in every community statewide came up, as did the property tax lift, indigent defense support, and the Public Records Act.

Back to the ballot boxes. Van De Wege brought this up.  For the low, low bargain basement price of roughly $7,500 – $10,000. Each. The senator asked Raines if she’d support the idea. She said yes, “as long as the state pays for it.” She also noted that the county could use that kind of money to hire a corrections officer instead.

New Hire?

Moving on again, Budget Director Brenda Sherman presented an update. See below. This engendered a discussion about a new position within Management Services for a Public Records Officer. Questions raised included how much will it cost? and who’s going to pay for it, possibly  in a billable hours by department – type format.

The salary range for this new position is estimated at $4,700 – $5,600/month, possibly starting in June. 

Back on the budget, Sherman noted that “trends show that our costs continue to outpace our revenue. We’re going to have to come up with some method of cost control.”

Raines recalled that Cormier “said last summer we may not be able to sustain staff levels.” Acknowledging the possibility of staff reductions, she said the situation “was brought to the attention of the unions, so they are aware.”

This & That

  • If you figure out how discussions about possible staff reductions square with discussions about hiring new staff – a public records officer – kindly holler.
  • Recent training on using the new county web site saw “good staff turnout.” Public turnout for same? Not so much. Clerk of the Board Jenna Asbury noted that the latter was attended by four people, all associated with local Neighborhood Watch programs.
  • Regarding possible ‘community ballot boxes’: What constitutes a ‘community’? Who decides? How? Who pays? For rural communities, wouldn’t footing the bill for ballot postage be cheaper than paying for ballot boxes? (Hi, Kevin.)
  • GHC 2016 Assessed Value for Taxes Payable in 2017:
  • Brief historical overview of general fund revenue vs. expenditures, 2013-2017:
  • Miscellaneous Dedicated Funds Summary as of March 31, 2017:

    Are we having fun yet?

    Photo: Budget Director (back to camera) discusses numbers and dollars with Commissioners Randy Ross, Wes Cormier, and Vickie Raines.

    Advisory Vote on Gateway Center Stalls

    A resolution for a public advisory vote on the Gateway Center in Aberdeen stalled at this morning’s special meeting/workshop of the Grays Harbor County Commissioners. Presented by Commissioner Wes Cormier, the resolution centered on asking the public whether or not the county should “own and operate the Gateway Enterprise and Visitor Information Center.”

    The resolution did not advance. Timing and who might own what, when were issues.

    Brought forward by Commissioner Wes Cormier, the advisory vote hit the radar about three weeks ago. It was to be revisited at the next county commissioner special meeting/workshop, originally calendared for February 7. That meeting was moved back to February 9 earlier this week.

    If passed, today’s resolution would have authorized “the Grays Harbor county Auditor to place on the August 2017, special election ballot for an advisory vote regarding the Gateway Enterprise Center.” When distributing the resolution for discussion this morning, Commissioner Cormier said the commissioners were “welcome to change” the language. Here’s the text of the document:

    Continue reading “Advisory Vote on Gateway Center Stalls”