By The Chronicle
Chehalis became the latest local body to join a new interlocal agreement with Lewis County for 911 services, following the Chehalis City Council’s unanimous approval of the measure Monday.
The agreement is the result of efforts to improve the relationship between the county and the agencies with which it partners. It follows a period of turmoil in which the partners took issue with the county’s performance and dispatchers issued a vote of no confidence in then-manager Dave Anderson.
Chehalis councilors expressed skepticism that the new agreement would solve all the problems, but agreed it was the best available step forward.
“We believe the interlocal agreement is a good first step in working with the 911 (center) and correcting some of the issues we’ve been having there,” Chehalis Police Chief Glenn Schaffer told the council.
Mayor Dennis Dawes asked about a committee set up by the agreement to work through ongoing issues.
“Does the committee have any teeth?” he asked.
“No,” Schaffer responded, but added that it has the ability to make recommendations in a “more formalized” way than the present structure.
“There’s really no place else to go at this point in time,” said Councilor Bob Spahr. “At least it’s headway in the users having some say.”
Councilor Daryl Lund told Schaffer and Fire Chief Ken Cardinale to beware of the “shell game” in any financial agreement with Lewis County, worrying that Chehalis may be paying in money for the county to redistribute elsewhere.
“The money goes to support other departments,” he said. “I hope we pay close attention to that.”
Despite the frustration, the agreement passed without much drama, bringing Chehalis into the pact two weeks after Centralia formally joined.
The cities of Centralia and Chehalis, along with the Riverside Fire Authority, are studying the possibility of opening their own 911 dispatch center.