Welch returns for first regular county meeting since June

MONTESANO — Earlier this month, County Commissioner Herb Welch shocked just about everyone when he rolled into the county commission chambers in his wheelchair to help vote to cancel the contract at Grays Harbor Raceway,

He had hoped that would be the start of attending regular meetings in person again, but then sharp pains took hold of him last week, leaving him unable to make it to the regular meeting.

On Monday, though, he made his real return, sitting through the morning meetings and then attending the afternoon session.

It’s the first time he’s been at a regular meeting since June, when he had to undergo emergency surgery. He had to be medically sedated for a week because of blood pressure issues and family and friends feared for the worst. “Prayers,” Welch said. “I’m told there were lots of prayers.”

For the past couple of months, Welch has been participating by phone and conference calls, continuing to vote on issues and being kept up to date on important issues such as the prosecutor’s appointment. Sometimes it’s been hard for him to hear testimony.

He’s forced to use a wheelchair because he can’t move his right leg. His son was with him Monday to help him move around a bit more.

“I’m getting the hang of it, but I have family that are amazing and helping me,” Welch said. Some days the pain is tolerable. Other days, it’s not so good.

“I’m working with the doctors,” Welch said. He thanked the community for its patience and prayers as he heads toward full recovery. He wishes he could use his leg again and the doctors don’t discount that possibility, but he says it won’t happen right away, if at all.

“It’s going to be tough to get around,” he said.

The commissioners have already made some changes around the office so he can get around better — but the one place he’s unlikely to return anytime soon is his old chair at the commissioners’ raised podium. There’s a single step and the pathway is too narrow for his wheelchair to move. He uses a table in front now.

Welch praised the job of Acting Chairman Frank Gordon and Wes Cormier for picking up issues in his district that he can’t handle right now.

“The goal is to get out into the district within the next month,” Welch said. “They’re my constituents and they deserve to see their commissioner.”