County Roundup — New phones, jail contracts and appointments

MONTESANO — The Grays Harbor County Commissioners approved implementation of a new phone system on Monday.

County Commissioner Wes Cormier had put a hold on the expenditure last week, asking his fellow commissioners to table the issue so he could look into the details of the plan more. The commissioners had approved the expenditure originally in December, but Cormier was sworn in last month and had questions.

“I wanted to make sure it was a real value to us,” Cormier said. “And I do feel that the phone system will end up paying for itself in a few years.”

Cormier said the county will save $2,300 a month on the new system, which will cost about $162,000 to install across the County Administration Building, the Elma, Cosmopolis and Copalis Beach road shops, the Pacific Beach Treatment plant and the Juvenile Detention Center near Aberdeen.

The county is borrowing $110,000 from an unrelated fund to be paid back over the next few years. The rest comes from the county’s Central Services division budget.


The commissioners on Monday approved a new jail contract with the city of Elma, allowing the city to join others on the Harbor to house their prisoners who commit misdemeanor crimes at the county jail.

To date, the county has approved contracts with the cities of Elma, McCleary, Montesano, Hoquiam, Ocean Shores and Cosmopolis That leaves Westport and Aberdeen that still need new contracts. Oakville doesn’t require a jail contract because the city already uses the county for its police services.

The contract calls for cities to pay $70 per day for each prisoner, an increase of $5 from the current rates.

The daily costs would also go up on Jan. 1 of each year based on 75 percent of the June Seattle/Tacoma/Bremerton Consumer Price Index with a maximum amount of 3 percent.


Cormier says he’s not going to feel compelled to stick with the same people who have been named to the county’s various boards and commissions year after year.

A whole batch of appointments are coming up for renewal. Last week, Cormier had his fellow commissioners pull planned re-appointments for the county’s Planning Commission. On Monday, Cormier said he has six months to name new appointments after a term has already expired. He’s been reviewing the county’s by-laws to ensure he knows how the process works.

Cormier is responsible for finding officials from his East County-based District 1, although the full Board of County Commissioners must confirm the appointments.

“I want some new blood,” Cormier said. “I want to find people who share my values.”


Commissioner Frank Gordon took charge of the county on Monday, as incumbent chairman Herb Welch fell ill and was unable to attend the meeting.

Cormier, battling his own cold, helped elect Gordon as pro-tem chairman of the Board of Commissioners Monday morning.

It’s the first meeting led by Gordon, who, even as a former Aberdeen City councilman, hadn’t led the 12-member body in a meeting.

Gordon helped lead the commissioners during their morning meeting and then the afternoon meeting, which lasted just 12 minutes.

“It’s a fun, great experience,” Gordon said, still holding on to the wooden gavel.