Advocates and campers working to cleanup site near downtown Aberdeen

Cleanup continues near the Chehalis River Bridge where several campsites along the river have been getting attention. Sources tell us the City of Aberdeen hauled out more than 20,000 pounds of trash last week. Campers and volunteers were using rakes to pile the trash Monday when we spoke to Natasha. “Although it is a problem, 60 to %70 of it is not the campers, it’s the trucks coming in at 2, 3, and 4 in the morning.” The former postal worker from Pacific Beach has been the unofficial campground host for about 8 months now, she said there’s really not an easy solution for folks that live there “It’s such a wide range of people down here for a wide range of reasons that everybody’s needs, and what’s going to help everybody, is going to be different from person to person.”

To the left is a campsite recently cleaned by Tasha, to the right is the pile of garbage they removed.
To the left is a campsite recently cleaned by Tasha, to the right is the pile of garbage they removed.

Tasha was 10 years into buying her own home, when – as she puts it “life happened and then the next thing you know I’m here.” Now she lives in the big blue tent that’s visible from the Chehalis River Bridge, it has a fireplace and space for guests. She said she spends a lot of her time helping others find food, clothing, or shelter. “And I mean I have plans not to be down here in the long run, but I also have plans to stay down here until everything’s fine.”

The city’s code enforcement officer handed out eviction notices giving the campers until March 31st to move out, that deadline was extended to April 13th after Mayor Bill Simpson spoke with land owners involved.

This area has one of only a few gravel beaches along the Chehalis, with tides bringing the water level almost to the campfire.
This area has one of only a few gravel beaches along the Chehalis, high tides bring the water level almost to the campfire.

Other advocates are working behind the scenes to procure property and come up with a more permanent solution, however Aberdeen’s city ordinance still prohibits camping on private property – with or without the owner’s permission, an issue that has been addressed elsewhere at the city council level.

During our interview, Tasha explained why so many are choosing not to use other resources like the Union Gospel Mission. She also talks about life along the river before getting the recent attention, and what they are hoping for afterward.

Montesano acquires certified interpreter, says show will go on

The Montesano City Council meeting will take place tonight, with a certified American Sign Language interpreter. The Tuesday night meeting was recessed just minutes into their agenda, after councilwoman Marisa Salzer said she was unable to understand her sign language interpreter.
City Attorney Dan Glenn said the meeting could not go on if they could not provide effective communication for Salzer.
City Administrator Kristy Powell said that they didn’t know Salzer had troubles understanding Alice Akrish, the woman who interpreted for the October 13th meeting. The second interpreter at that meeting; Brenda House, contacted the city before the November 27th meeting to tell Powell that Salzer could not understand the other interpreter because she was not certified. House is certified, but was unavailable for the 27th meeting.
Powell confirmed this morning that the city has a certified interpreter to cover the meeting that begins at 7 tonight.

Montesano council meeting stalled over “Qualified” vs. “Certified” ASL interpreter

The Montesano City Council meeting last night was postponed (actually recessed) until Thursday night, after city councilmember Marisa Salzer was unable to understand her sign language interpreter.
Just minutes into the regular agenda, Salzer told the council “I’m not voting tonight because I can’t understand my interpreter, she’s not certified.” City Administrator Kristy Powell said that while she wasn’t certified, she was qualified and was one of two interpreters provided at Montesano’s last council meeting.
ASL Interpreter Alice Akrish
“I have never had, in my lifetime, a deaf person not understand me, ever.”

Last night’s interpreter, Alice Akrish, has been %85 deaf all of her life, with her deaf father at her side, she said after the meeting “I have never had, in my lifetime, a deaf person not understand me, ever.”

Salzer said last night that Brenda House, had notified Powell that Salzar required a certified, rather than qualified interpreter; House is certified.
The previous provider for the city, ASL Professionals, notified them earlier this month that they can no longer provide services because of “the situation it was putting their interpreters in.”
Powell said after the meeting that a qualified interpreter is all that they are required to provide to allow reasonable accommodation.
The ADA defines discrimination of hard of hearing and deaf individuals as “…a failure to take such steps as may be necessary to ensure that no individual with a disability is excluded, denied services, segregated or otherwise treated differently than other individuals because of the absence of auxiliary aids and services…” The ADA definition of “auxiliary aids and services” includes “qualified interpreters or other effective methods of making aurally delivered materials available to individuals with hearing impairments.”
The key phrase used by the ADA when it comes to deaf and hard of hearing individuals is “effective communication.” Whatever is necessary to ensure effective communication is required, by law, to be done.
Although the details of what “effective communication” entails may be hazy in some cases, there’s no doubt that ultimately sign language interpreting is the most straightforward way for institutions to fulfill their obligations under the ADA.
Therefore, any place of public accommodation is required to provide sign language interpreters or other effective means of communication for hard of hearing individuals. Depending on the situation, other effective means of communication may include assistive listening devices.




Hoquiam outsources ambulance billing, drops resident write-off

No more special treatment for Hoquiam residents when it comes to ambulance billing. The Hoquiam City Council last night adopted a new ordinance that outsources that department, and standardizes rates. Resident Dave Forbes said during the public comment period “I know that our city’s in a real financial bind, but the citizens of Hoquiam have stepped forward several times in the past with special fees that we’ve been paying for a long time that were supposed to have helped pay for the ambulance service for the average citizen in Hoquiam and it sounds to me like we’re doing away with just about all of that.”
The council last night got a look at a balanced budget proposal by Finance Director Mike Folkers, which assumes lower service levels, and the changes in ambulance fees. “As you know today we go out, we take you on an ambulance trip, we bill your insurance. Anything that’s left over from that trip we write off, for Hoquiam residents. That’s problematic for us for a number of reasons but it doesn’t help us.”
City Administrator Brian Shay likened the problem to your water department “The average homeowner pays a water bill every month, they get a water leak, they want us to come over and shut their water off, we send a guy over there with a truck and we charge him $30. We get a call for someone to check their blood pressure, we’ll send two highly trained personnel in $100,000 ambulance, and [currently] there’s no charge.
Attempting to put the brakes on the idea, Councilman Greg Grund postponed a vote on one of the the committee reports “You know you can charge somebody to death with all of these fees and everything, I think it should be tabled because people have the right to know what’s gonna happen and what’s gonna change. Tabling this until the next meeting I don’t see how that does any harm.” His motion stalled the non-transport-section of the ordinance which allows the city to bill you a flat rate if an ambulance shows up but doesn’t transport you. The council went on to adopt the new billing policies, and an Indigent Care policy last night.

City of Aberdeen to reconsider fluoridation of water supply

The city of Aberdeen will review whether they should continue adding fluoride to their water in the coming months, after several public comments on the matter North Aberdeen resident Karla Eilers spoke last night. “There are many out there that believe that fluoridating our public water is a great idea and helps prevent tooth decay. The CDC has gone as far as to say that fluoridation is 1 of the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th century.” Eilers said that some opinions have changed in the 15 years that Aberdeen has been adding fluoride to the water supply. “According to data from the World Health Organization, there is no discernible difference in tooth decay between the minority of developed countries that fluoridate their water, and the majority that do not.”
The city council last night voted to draft an ordinance to remove fluoridation from the water supply, Eilers is hoping the community gets involved, she said after the meeting. “There  is the positives of fluoridation, there’s also the negatives. They have been swayed by reports from the CDC and other governments that it’s good for you, when in reality there’s enough scientific support that it’s actually not. I think it’s important that the citizens be made aware of these issues and the information that’s out there and be able to make a choice and vote on whether or not they want to have this in their drinking water.”
To contact your city councilmember find your ward representative in the Government section of their website

Hoquiam to consider ban on sale and use of fireworks

The City of Hoquiam is considering a ban on the sale and discharge of fireworks. Councilman Darrin Moir brought the motion forward at their Monday meeting “I’d like to make a motion asking our City Attorney to draft an ordinance banning the sale, use, or detonation of fireworks within the city limits, except by licensed pyro technicians.” The city council was split 6-6 on the vote, with Mayor Jack Durney tipping the vote in favor of drafting an ordinance for consideration by the public safety committee. Councilman Paul McMillan said earlier that night that the public safety committee would discuss the issue before Moir’s motion to draft a resolution. Durney said he voted for it so that they could have an ordinance to further discuss.

Hoquiam council passes on marijuana laws, again

The Hoquiam city council failed to adopt any of 4 proposed ordinances last night, “OK Fellas, let’s do something. We’re a deliberative body and we’re supposed to make decisions.” Mayor Jack Durney expressed some frustration after the council failed to pass either of two resolutions to further extend moratoriums, one was on Medicinal Marijuana Collective Gardens, the other was on Recreational Marijuana Businesses and expires August 9th.
Councilwoman Jasmine Dickoff said she thought adoption of the moratoriums failed because some council wanted to address the issues – one of which is two years old. They didn’t address the issue though, with 5 versions of a proposed ordinance to zone marijuana two were proposed and failed by one vote before the council decided they should wait until the two remaining members were at their August meeting.

Councilman Richard Pennant made a strong point for commerce; “$25 grams should be against the law.”

The city council also failed to adopt an ordinance placing handicap parking on a section of street downtown – because the ordinance didn’t include the address of the section.

New home construction to begin in East Hoquiam, Summerhaven is also hiring

There’s some new developers at Summerhaven in East Hoquiam, Mayor Jack Durney told his city council last night “They have brought contractors down interested in investing and building some houses. It’s the first – really substantial housing development in Hoquiam since the 60’s or 70’s.”

The unfinished housing development past Hoquiam Plywood was once a senior-living community. Developer Michael Zblewski explained before the city council meeting “It was 55 and older, and now we’re developing single family homes. We’re just finishing the financing on Wednesday and hopefully we’ll begin construction within the next two weeks.
Co-Developer Michael Velanni said they’re also looking to hire as much local workers as possible on the new homes. They plan to launch a website with more details soon.

“Swift and Certain” punishment model shines in Hoquiam City Jail

The Hoquiam City Jail is doing well, and after being closed for almost 10 years it could become a showcase for the State Department of Corrections. About 2 years ago, their “Swift and Certain” punishment model needed a jail for quick arrests and convictions of parole violators, instead of lengthy jail and court times. “From the street level, anecdotally I can that I think it works. I think it’s holding people accountable in a way that wasn’t working with the duration it took to get probation violators through the court system.” Police Chief Jeff Myers reported to the city council last night, “now they are proposing to extend the contract, which expires this year, out to 2017 and give us a maximum per diam of $85 per day per inmate.”
The city jail was closed for almost 10 years before Myers was able to re-open it part-time in 2012. Later that year partnering with the DOC, he said the contract saves ratepayers. “The citizens of Hoquiam receive a fulltime functioning city jail for about .20 cents on the dollar because of this DOC contract.” For that Myers thanked Hoquiam Senator Jim Hargrove “Senator Hargrove was the main sponsor, he continues to ‘kick’ the DOC when they need to be ‘kicked’ and make sure things move forward, he’s a big proponent of this.” The “Swift and Certain” model received national attention earlier this year when President Barack Obama announced he wants to expand on similar programs.

Hoquiam firefighters rally for support

Hoquiam Fire Fighters are taking to the streets for support,  Local 315 President Doug Stankavich tells us they’re worried about response times and safety after recent reductions in staffing were announced earlier this month.
Stankavich is standing with about 30 supporters on the corner of 8th and Simpson in downtown Hoquiam this morning. “We’re out here trying to drum up support and awareness for our citizens and the districts that we serve outside the city. We’d like everybody to contact their council members during this week and be aware of the council meeting next Tuesday at 7 P.M. Let’s crowd city hall and see if we can’t save our firefighter positions.
The city earlier this month laid off 4 firefighters, citing a decrease in ambulance billing and call volume, Stankavich said they were given their 30 day’s notice earlier this month “The council meeting next week is their final week. The 30th will be the first day without those positions. What I’m told is that we have been ordered to run with 4 personnel that day.” adding that operating without that fifth person will greatly affect how the department can respond to fire and aid calls.
Supporters plan to rally every morning in Hoquiam until the next city council meeting on the 27th.
Hoquiam Firefighters signs of support
GET TO KNOW YOUR City of Hoquiam Washington - City Council Homepage
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