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By Teresa Simpson
Whitman County Gazette 

Commissioners move forward on Bill Chipman Trail Bridge


September 28, 2023

COLFAX — The Whitman County Commissioners met for their regular meeting workshop on Monday, Sept. 25, at 9 a.m., discussing Bill Chipman Trail Bridge updates.

Public Works Director Mark Storey had one update concerning the Bill Chipman Trail bridge. Storey said he’d contacted the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), and they agreed to let biologists work with Whitman County Public Works to install the new bridge in approximately March.

According to Storey WDFW, since they’ve declared an emergency, they can start working as long as it doesn’t cause any damage to the stream.

Largent said they submitted the claim as a walkway, and Storey said he’d signed the agreement to start working on a design for the bridge.

In other discussions, Commissioner Art Swannack said WSDOT is still working on the Winona Trestle, which is going well.

The Winona Trestle, a wooden bridge about 200 feet long, owned by Palouse Coulee Shortline Railroad, burnt down in the Winona Fire on Friday, Aug. 18.

Swannack also discussed a request made in April about a special assessment for national lands.

Swannack said that $1,042 from the assessment would go for educational research and asked the other commissioners if they wanted to take action on it.

Commissioner Michael Largent and Commissioner Tom Handy wanted to re-read it.

Largent mentioned the Washington State Association of Counties (WASEC) and some issues they faced with King County staying in the association.

“King County staying is essential,” Largent said, adding that the county wants more say in certain issues that need to be dealt with.

Swannack said that WASEC had discussed King County wanting only to pay half their dues and talking about leaving in 2024. WASEC discussed what was happening and what King County wanted to stay in the Association.

When asked if all 39 counties were active, Largent said that King County says they have representatives but needs to send them.

Being part of the Legislative Service Center (LSC) section of WASEC, Swannack said they had four main goals for the 2023 legislative session, which were substantially achieved, and the LSC discussed whether or not they were going to add new ones which came down to them saying they didn’t.

Swannack said LSC would discuss further at the annual November meeting to get a final yes or no answer.

Handy said that a bunch of counties are coming together to try to plan for bead grants that are coming together next year. The WASEC broadband group is trying to get an organization or group started to spearhead the development of the plans for broadband development in the counties. “If that were to happen, there’d be a bunch of operating costs,” Handy said, noting that they were putting it together at WASEC and were deciding who would be the beneficiary of the 2.5 million dollars for it and who would operate it.

“It’s a bunch of moving pieces, so nothing definitive as far as who is going to do it,” Handy said.

The Commissioners presented guest Kellie Campbell to discuss with those in attendance at the meeting health insurance plans for county workers.


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