STATE PAYS CENTRALIA MOTEL OWNER $126,000 A MONTH FOR USE AS A COVID SITE

CENTRALIA – The Washington State operated coronavirus quarantine facility at the privately owned Lakeview Inn motel in Centralia could remain in the community until next spring. The State Department of Health moved the facility here from Thurston County without consulting with local government leaders and has said that due to the concerns of the city and county, they are looking to relocate it within the next few weeks. But, Lewis County Commissioner Sean Swope has obtained a copy of the state’s lease agreement with the motel owner. Swope says the contract indicates, “It runs through April of next year.” To locate the quarantine facility at the motel, Swope says the state has broken land use laws that they enacted by unilaterally changing the permitted land use zoning around the motel from commercial to residential without going through the process of city planning commission and city council approval. Commissioner Swope is concerned over the lack of state transparency.  Since it opened in May the facility has housed 67 international travelers, crew members off foreign ocean vessels and state work release inmates who have had contact with coronavirus. Commissioner Swope points out that the state has taken a 40 room hospitality location off line during the height of the tourist season. Last week we learned that the state department of health was awaiting clearance from the state Office of Financial Management before re-locating the quarantine program out of the city and county. OFM has reportedly noted that the motel owner has entered into a one year residential lease agreement with the state, where the state is paying $126,400 a month in tax dollars for use of the motel. Moreover,  Swope said, “The Governor put a COVID quarantine facility in the lowest vaccinated county in the state.”

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