Clark County President calls county ‘resilient’ in annual speech


In a nutshell, the state of Clark County is “resilient,” the county’s top elected official said Tuesday evening.

Clark County Council President Eileen Quiring O’Brien delivered the annual County State Address. In a speech broadcast from the sixth-floor courtroom of the Public Service Center in Vancouver, Quiring O’Brien focused on the county’s response to COVID-19 over the past year.

“If I were to (sum up) the state of the county discourse in one word right now, it would be ‘resilient’,” said Quiring O’Brien.

The Republican President of the Council has recognized lost jobs, distance learning difficulties and deaths as some of the effects of COVID-19. Since the virus struck in March 2020, 243 people have died in the county.

“The pandemic has caused hardship for residents and local businesses,” Quiring O’Brien said. “Our community has been tested and tried over the past year.”

Quiring O’Brien thanked elected officials and county employees for “adjusting business procedures quickly and efficiently in order to continue to provide the services our constituents expect.”

She mentioned Clark County’s public health efforts during the pandemic: monitoring cases, providing more than $ 700,000 in aid to hundreds of families in quarantine, distributing funds to help more than 700 food establishments put implementation of security protocols, opening of Tower Mall Testing and Vaccination Site, vaccinate more than 1,000 people associated with adult homes and assisted living facilities and operate a call center for questions about vaccines.

Prior to the speech, the Clark County Council of Neighborhood Associations presented their annual Clark County Outstanding Employee Award to the Director of Public Health, Dr. Alan Melnick.

“While this is a great honor for me, it has been an incredible effort on behalf of so many people and partners,” said Melnick. “It has been a total effort throughout the community.”

Quiring O’Brien also thanked the county community services department for their efforts: temporary homeless shelter at Motel 6 in east Vancouver last year; providing more than $ 8 million in housing assistance to more than 1,700 households; and distributing over $ 1 million in grants and loans to more than 220 businesses owned by low-income people, people of color, women and veterans. The ministry has also funded homeless programs to implement virus safety measures.

The President referred to the budgetary uncertainties the county and other municipalities were confronted, especially if sales tax and property tax revenues would fall. In response, the county cut spending by implementing a hiring freeze, eliminating non-essential expenses and overtime, and organizing some general fundraising projects.

In November, the county council adopted a Budget of $ 557 million for this year. The adopted expenditure plan was $ 11 million more than that approved for the previous year.

Quiring O’Brien also mentioned the initial struggles between the county and the state to coordinate vaccine distribution. County vaccine allowance initially lagging behind the rest of the state, for example.

As of Saturday, more than 78,000 of the county’s approximately 490,000 residents had been vaccinated, according to the county website.

“Unfortunately, there was a communication and distribution problem with the state, which initially created difficulties,” said Quiring O’Brien. “But we are now moving in the right direction.”

The chairman of the board ended with a call to support local businesses and reach out to people who are isolated.

“The resilient nature of our community ensures that we will see better days ahead for all of us,” said Quiring O’Brien. “Our community will be better because of your efforts.”

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