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Don't cross Snowden off the list

Guest Commentary for Feb. 14


Recent news and comment concerning the Snowden Community Council creates the impression that the council is a "Johnny come lately" formed by a small group to take advantage of the landfill revenue made available to communities. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I was involved in the formation of the council in 1977. It had its origins in a community meeting called because residents learned that Snowden had been targeted for two-acre and five-acre zoning and that several large subdivisions were on the verge of being approved. Over 100 people attended that meeting in a snowstorm and were nearly unanimous in their opposition to high-density development and subdivisions. Longtime residents and newcomers (as I was at that time) were alarmed that our future was being planned without our knowledge or participation. The Snowden Community Council was formed to give the community a voice in our future.

The Snowden area was part of Commissioner District #1 at that time and was represented by Commissioner Bodge Kreps. The council proposed boundaries for the community and Commissioner Kreps requested that they be enlarged so that there would not be any gaps between the boundaries with other councils. The boundaries were approved by the County Commissioners consisting of Bodge Kreps, Ted Hornibrook, and Glenn (Buzz) Claussen. These boundaries were later revised to transfer an area along Highway 141 to the Husum Community Council, with which it was more naturally connected.

The Snowden Community Council has 25 years of continuous meetings and elections. How can the Snowden Council be a ploy to receive Economic Development Authority funding when there was no economic development funding for the first 15 or so years of its existence?

The council has regularly polled the community to be sure that it represents the values and wishes of its residents. To my knowledge it is the only community council to do this on an ongoing basis. Remarkably, the community has consistently voted over 90 percent in favor of maintaining current land use patterns that consist primarily of 10- and 20-acre zones. Apparently those moving into the community have been attracted by the same rural values held by earlier residents ...

When the county made its original list of community councils eligible to apply for economic development funding, the Snowden Council was left off of the list. When I brought this to the attention of Economic Development Director Dana Peck, he attributed it to the lack of a business district or "a place to buy a cup of coffee." I was pleased when Snowden was subsequently added to the list. It seems reasonable, given that it encompasses about 50 square miles and a population greater than several of the other recognized councils. So far we have been happy to brew our own coffee or buy a cup when we are in town.

Why should Snowden now be crossed off the list? Surely 25 years of recognition by the county with approved bylaws and elections on file with the Planning Department should clearly separate it from bogus councils established to get a piece of the landfill money.

No community council has a legal status that allows it to receive public funds. A proper legal authority must administer any funding awarded by the Economic Development Authority, but only the Snowden Community Council is denied the right to propose projects.

It defies explanation that the Snowden community should be required to make its requests for funding through the Husum Community Council. What would the residents of Glenwood say if they were told that they must apply for funding through the Trout Lake Community Council?

Roger Gadway is director of Klickitat County Senior Services.


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