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County commissioners OK substance abuse treatment contracts for Drug Court participants

County Administration Building exterior stock

The Cowlitz County Administration Building is pictured in this TDN file photo in 2018. 

Cowlitz County commissioners Tuesday approved two contracts with local providers for substance abuse treatment services primarily for drug court participants.

The contracts are funded by money the Legislature sets aside in the state’s Criminal Justice Treatment Account, said Gena James, Health and Human Services deputy director.

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In late July, the commissioners approved the contract with the Washington State Healthcare Authority accepting about $587,000 for July 2021 through June 2023.

The commissioners Tuesday approved an agreement with Columbia Wellness not to exceed $34,000 and with Cowlitz Family Health Center not to exceed $48,000, both from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022.

Last year, Columbia Wellness provided four assessments, 343 outpatient treatment sessions, 42 urinalysis tests, as well as case management, James said. Family Health Center provided two assessments, 69 outpatient treatments and 300 urine tests, she said.

James said drug court participation decreased last year because of COVID-19 and the Blake decision, so providers didn’t use all the contracted funds. The leftover money is recouped by the state and reallocated, she said.

The Supreme Court’s State v. Blake decision in February found Washington’s law unconstitutional because it made drug possession a felony, even for people who did not know they had drugs on them. The Legislature passed a new law in April that makes simple drug possession a misdemeanor.

County commissioners approve agreement with state reimburse for Blake-related costs

Commissioner Dennis Weber said the drug court numbers are the lowest he’s seen since joining the board in 2013. Weber said prosecutors are working through the changes and he expects drug court numbers to go back up because the problem remains.

In other business, the commissioners:

  • Approved a bid award to GE Healthcare for about $112,400 to purchase a portable X-ray machine for the new morgue.
  • Approved a personal services agreement with Parametrix for $6,645 to develop a scope for a hydrogeological technical study to assess groundwater withdrawals in the Lewis River watershed.
  • Approved an agreement with Ecology for $186,907 to investigate solid waste complaints and provide education and outreach from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2023.
  • Approved an amendment extending the contract with ALS Environmental for Silver Lake water analysis for Ecology through August 2022.

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