Benton County Liberty State Committee Meeting, Dec. 10

The location for the first Benton County Liberty State committee meeting on Monday, December 10th, 2018 at 7 p.m. will be:

Richland,  WA 99352
The evening’s topic will be to plan what the next steps are for creating the 51st state and to decide committee roles and responsibilities moving forward. People who would like to get involved in the process and make a difference are encouraged to attend.

Benton Bans New Pot Producers and Processors; TC Herald Urges Ouster of Commissioner Small

In a 2-1 vote on May 1, 2018, the Benton County Commissioners voted to ban new production and processing of marijuana. See Tri-City Herald story here. Commissioners Small and Beaver voted in favor of the ban, while commissioner Devlin voted against it. The Tri-City Herald points out that unseating the commissioners who voted in favor of the ban is one way of reversing the outcome.

Referendums aren’t the only ballot box outlet.

Commissioner Shon Small’s commission seat is up for re-election this year and filing week begins on May 14. Mercer said marijuana supporters hope to run a challenger for the post that pays $107,000 a year. No one has yet announced plans to challenge Small.

The vote also reportedly gives Sheriff Hatcher more authority to enforce rules.

Futurewise Appeals Benton County Comprehensive Plan

From the Tri-City Herald’s article Benton County’s out of water. Growth should be frozen, group says.

Improperly planned growth in Benton County could overtax the Yakima River and other water sources, harming fish, wildlife, waterways and senior water rights holders, an environmental watchdog group says.

Futurewise, formerly 1000 Friends of Washington, is asking the Growth Management Hearings Board for Eastern Washington to review the comprehensive plan Benton County commissioners approved in February, saying it fails to comply with the state’s Growth Management Act on several fronts.

In a petition filed last week, Futurewise claims Benton County didn’t properly analyze the effect 6,800 new people in unincorporated areas over 20 years would have on the county’s limited water resources.

It also says Benton County also failed to analyze the effect of growth on state roadways and work with the state to mitigate them…

The petition triggers a three-person review board, with at least two Eastern Washington residents. A hearing will likely be held in late fall, and the board has 180 days from the April 19 filing date to issue a binding decision…

Continue reading at the Tri-City Herald by clicking here.

From Futurewise’s web site:

….Water resource planning efforts in the lower Yakima River have made clear that water in Benton County is already allocated and flows in the river are too low for salmon and steelhead outmigration and rearing.

This appeal will be the first to address the applicability of the State Legislature’s so-called Hirst fix bill (SB 6091) to planning for growth in the Yakima River basin.  According to the bill, counties in the Yakima basin are mandated to plan for the use of land consistent with available water resources under the Growth Management Act (GMA)…

Acting Sheriff Hatcher Appointed Benton County Sheriff

The Tri-City Herald reports:

Benton County commissioners picked Acting Sheriff Jerry Hatcher to continue leading the sheriff’s department until later this year.

Hatcher, the county’s former undersheriff, was picked to succeed Steve Keane, after commissioners interviewed three candidates for the job in a special session Tuesday afternoon.

The commission interviewed Hatcher, Kennewick Police Sgt. Ken Lattin and Benton County Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Bob Brockman.

The vote was 2-1 for Hatcher. Commissioner Jim Beaver voted no but didn’t say why.

The decision sets the stage for a contested election in November when candidates will run to serve out the remainder of Keane’s term, which expires in 2018. This week is filing week and Lattin filed his paperwork Tuesday for the sheriff’s position.

 Hatcher said he also plans to file. Brockman has not said if he will run.