News Briefs for Nov. 15, 2018

Washougal man sentenced for murdering grandmother

A Washougal man who admitted to police that he killed his grandmother in March 2017 has been sentenced to more than 23 years in prison.

Clark County Superior Court Judge John Fairgrieve sentenced Benjamin Wayne Walker to 280 months in prison and 36 months of community custody for murder in the first degree-domestic violence, as the result of a plea bargain.

Benjamin Walker, 29, said in court documents he had premeditated intent to kill his grandmother, Joan Walker, by choking her and slashing her throat with a knife. He agreed that Joan Walker, 78, was a vulnerable victim.

The Washougal man went to the Washougal Police Station on March 6, 2017, just before 6 a.m., and told an officer he had killed Joan Walker in a home on the 3300 block of “H” Street.

Camas Police officers were dispatched to the house, where they contacted Terry Walker and his wife, Dorothea. The officers went to Joan Walker’s bedroom, where they found her lying on her back. One of the officers observed an injury to Joan Walker’s throat, and a knife was located nearby.

During an interview with police, Benjamin Walker said he drank a six-pack and a 32-ounce can of beer earlier that morning. Walker said his grandmother frequently chastised him for leaving the lights on and using too much water while showering. He told police he had choked his grandmother using both hands, and then got a knife in the kitchen and cut her throat.

Fish and Wildlife to host meeting about cougars

Area residents who want to learn how to reduce human and livestock conflicts with cougars are invited to a presentation by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) officials.

There will also be information about cougar biology, living with wildlife and how and when to report cougar sightings, presented during a public meeting at 6:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 19, in the WDFW Region 5 Office, 5525 S. 11th St., Ridgefield. A question and answer session will occur following the presentation.

For more information, call 360-696-6211 or visit wdfw.wa.gov/living/dangerous/.

Clark County manager recommends ‘no frills’ budget

Clark County Manager Shawn Henessee is recommending a budget for 2019 to the county council that focuses on protecting critical and mandated functions while preserving adequate reserves.

“This is a fiscally conservative budget recommendation,” Henessee said. “I’m recommending approval of very few of the general fund requests from departments due to a lack of available resources.”

The county council will consider the $532 million budget during a public hearing beginning at 2 p.m., Monday, Dec. 3. The county’s other elected officials will be first to testify on budgets proposed by their departments.

Anyone interested may testify when the hearing continues at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 4. Both sessions will be held in the sixth-floor hearing room in the Public Service Center, 1300 Franklin St., Vancouver. If needed, public testimony will be continued to 10 a.m., Wednesday, Dec. 5.

After public testimony, the council will deliberate and make a decision on the 2019 budget. Per state law, the county budget must be adopted after the budget hearings and prior to the beginning of the next fiscal period on Jan. 1, 2019.

Several of the budget requests Henessee recommends for approval are ones that benefit multiple or all departments. These include an annual subscription for Workday, the county’s new financial and Human Resources software, and upgrading computer software to Office 365.

Other recommendations include: enacting the 1-percent property tax increase to generate $632,000 in additional revenue; increasing sales tax revenue forecasts for 2019 by $1.7 million; realizing $395,000 in cost-saving budget interventions; and considering $1.6 million in Building Fund requests, $21.6 million in Road Fund requests, $7.9 million in Real Estate Excise Tax requests and $2.6 million in Mental Health Sales Tax Fund requests.

The 2019 recommended budget can be found on the county’s website: clark.wa.gov/budget/2019-budget.