Stories in this Regional News Roundup are excerpted from weekly newspapers from around the region. This is part two, with part one having appeared in Saturday’s Tribune.

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DAYTON — The ability to deliver quality behavioral health services to southeastern Washington communities got a boost when Blue Mountain Counseling of Columbia County recently added telepsychiatry to its treatment protocol.

“This started because none of our counselors are credentialed high enough to prescribe medications if warranted. Adolescents under the age of 13 aren’t being served through some of the other services provided in the community, and we felt this was a good place to start,” said CEO Dimita Warren.

Warren said they are working with care provider Brent Landkammer, from Clarkston, through LocumTenens.com, a health care provider agency. Landkammer holds a Master of Science degree in nursing, and is a board certified Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner.

“Brent is familiar with small town dynamics. He is comfortable with working with children age 8 on up,” Warren said.

Clinical Director Chrisann Christensen said the benefits of working with Landkammer are many. They include access to a knowledgeable provider, and prescriber, who has both counseling and nursing experience, and who can also manage medications.

“It’s just an extra layer of what we do with substance use disorder and behavioral health services,” Christensen said. “One of the big things is clients can sit one on one and discuss everything from medications, to psychiatric issues and goals.”

The counselors will also be able to discuss patient care with Landkammer and develop a course of action for their patients.

“This will provide us with a fresh set of eyes and ears,” Warren said.

Providing this service locally will also eliminate some transportation barriers and cut down on wait times.

Currently, people have to go outside the area, either to the Tri-Cities or Spokane, for this level of care, and youth sometimes have to travel as far as Lourdes Counseling Center in the Tri-Cities, Warren said.

“It could take you weeks to get in,” she said.

New clients will need to call the Blue Mountain Counseling Center for an appointment with a mental health therapist. If telepsychiatry services are warranted, the counselor will make the necessary referral to Landkammer, Warren said.

A full array of services is offered at Blue Mountain Counseling, including substance use disorder services, community support services, individual and family services, brief short-term crisis services, jail services, adult day services, support groups and education and now telepsychiatry services.

Warren said funding for telepsychiatry services is through a grant from the Greater Columbia Communities of Accountable Health.

Blue Mountain Counseling of Columbia County is a nonprofit agency helping to provide integrated behavioral health to southeastern Washington communities.

Dr. Michael Luce is the medical director, and the staff at Blue Mountain Counseling is licensed, certified or registered, and meets applicable state standards, Warren said.

Blue Mountain Counseling of Columbia County is located at 221 East Washington St. More information is available by calling (509) 382-1164.

— Michelle Smith, The Times (Waitsburg), Thursday

Colfax High School auditorium near completion

COLFAX — Drama/play production classes resumed Thursday at Colfax Junior-Senior High School as the remodeling of the auditorium is nearly complete.

The annual production, delayed from the traditional November shows, is “The Little Mermaid,” staged for the first time in Colfax.

“I think the public is really going to enjoy the auditorium; it has a definite wow factor,” said Jerry Pugh, Colfax superintendent.

Small items remain, such as painting and training on the new audio system.

Jeff Stroman, a field engineer from Electronic Theater Controls, headquartered in Middleton, Wis., was on site last week setting up the new lighting system/controls.

“The same gear that’s here is on Broadway,” Stroman said.

The auditorium also features all new seats of varying widths.

The auditorium project is phase three of the overall $18.9 million bond-funded construction underway at the school district.

— Whitman County Gazette (Colfax), Thursday

Little Ski Hill T-bar breaks down: 50-year-old lift to be replaced this summer

McCALL — The 50-year-old T-bar lift at the Little Ski Hill west of McCall has been broken since before Christmas, but ski area managers hope to have the lift up and running this week.

Meanwhile, the Payette Lake Ski Club, which operates the area, is continuing with its plans to replace the lift starting this summer.

The breakdown caused the area’s after school program to be delayed a week, and the area’s instructor training was moved to Brundage Mountain Resort.

The ski club operates both the Little Ski Hill and the nearby Bear Basin Nordic Center.

The T-bar was originally installed in 1971, and parts are becoming increasingly scarce and more expensive, ski club Executive Director Colby Nielsen said.

Fundraising started this fall has raised about $1.25 million to replace the lift.

About $258,000 is still needed in order to buy lights to open more terrain for night skiing.

The new T-bar will be placed in the same area as the current lift.

The club considered installing a more traditional chair lift, but opted for another T-bar, which is considered safer than a chair lift, Nielsen said.

The new lighting will replace the existing lighting and add lights to the two remaining unlit runs, “Race Run” and “Outback.”

The new lift and lighting will allow the area to offer new programs at night and on weekends and encourage more youths to take up skiing, Nielsen said.

— Max Silverson, Star News (McCall), Thursday

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