ASOTIN — A remote county park west of Asotin will be getting a new permit box after a wooden one was riddled with bullet holes.
At Monday’s Asotin County Commission meeting, officials said they’re replacing the vandalized box with a steel tube and considering other changes to monitor camping at Headgates Park, about 9 miles up Asotin Creek Road.
Squatters have been overstaying the 14-day limit allowed with a permit, County Planner Karst Riggers said. No fee is charged for using the park, but it is not intended for long-term campers, he said.
Asotin County’s new code enforcement officer, Ed Holbert, said he’s contacted the U.S. Forest Service for ideas on how to secure the permit system. New signs that indicate no money is inside the tube could help ward off vandalism, he said.
Permits are available at the Asotin County Sheriff’s Office and the building department in the annex, but can only be obtained during regular business hours. Riggers said having permits at the site, in a system similar to Hells Gate Park, is under consideration.
Commissioner Brian Shinn said the county has been getting reports about homeless people setting up camp at Headgates Park and leaving trash and other debris behind.
“That’s exactly right,” Holbert said. “They’re bouncing back and forth between a couple of places.”
Holbert, who works part-time, said he plans to check out the campground and permits every couple of weeks. With no restroom on site, campers are required to provide their own sanitary facilities and pack out all trash.
Commissioner Chris Seubert said he wants the county to consider its options before investing any money into the rural park.
“My idea of code enforcement was not patrolling Headgates Park,” Seubert said. “With all of the code violations we have, it’s not our highest priority, in my opinion, especially since there’s no money in the budget for it.”
Commissioner Jim Jeffords said the new steel box shouldn’t be expensive, and it’s a good idea to keep tabs on who is using the park.
“We don’t want people living up there,” Jeffords said.
In other county business:
Public Works Director Dustin Johnson said Avista has discovered three more street lights that are currently receiving free power.
After discussing the issue, the commissioners accepted billing responsibility for lights at Peaslee and Fifth avenues and U.S. Highway 12 and Elm Street, saying both cover intersections and meet traffic standards. However, a lamp near Maple and 16th streets doesn’t meet the criteria and will be turned off, the commissioners said.
With a unanimous vote, the commissioners approved a resolution addressing how breaching the lower Snake River dams would affect southeastern Washington’s economy.
This area is dependent on agriculture, and breaching the dams or lowering the pools would have a “devastating effect on the economies of the river-dependent cities and ports,” according to the resolution.
In addition, breaching would cause the destruction of the highway infrastructure in much of Asotin, Columbia, Franklin, Garfield and Whitman counties because of the added semi-trailers used to transport products to market, according to county officials.
The proposal to breach dams to restore wild salmon runs is based on “incomplete and inconclusive data,” and the loss of reasonably priced electrical power will hamper economic development, the commissioners said.
The resolution calls on the president and Congress to reject any proposals to breach the dams or significantly lower the pools. “Such decisions concerning our area, our livelihood and our constinuency should be our decision,” according to the document.
Karl Dye, president of Valley Vision, provided information on sales tax collection that will be used during the campaign to build a new jail in Asotin County. The data shows 59 percent of sales tax collected in the county comes from people who reside outside Asotin County.
County officials said the information will be useful as they promote a 0.3 percent sales tax increase to help fund construction and operation of a new corrections facility. The ballot proposal is going before Asotin County voters in November.
Sandaine may be contacted at email@example.com or (208) 848-2264. Follow her on Twitter @newsfromkerri.