Letter to the editor: Proposed Lewis County ordinance threatens successful, life-saving outreach


Gather Church provides important life-saving services for those struggling to get a foothold. This includes community outreach, a meds-first clinic, care coordination, education and a successful, harm-reducing syringe services program, among many other community services.

These programs are so successful, and so many lives of neighbors and loved ones have been helped and stabilized, that Gather is internationally recognized as a shining example for the help they provide.

Many in our families have benefited from low barrier treatment and outreach services like Gather provides. As neighbors and friends to many who struggle, we deeply value these services and this help.

Proposed County Ordinance 1354 threatens this successful, life-saving outreach. Because of this, we are strongly against Ordinance 1354. This ordinance adds an unprecedented amount of county government administrative red tape and big government overreach to these successful programs.

Also, all these programs are currently scrutinized and are already held to the highest standards of accountability and proof of success by federal and state laws that the county also abides by.

There exists no other ordinance as potentially damaging and punitive as this one in the United States.

Commissioner Sean Swope may have had good intentions at the outset, when he first crafted this ordinance, but those good intentions have been hijacked by outsiders, creating false narratives and fear where none need exist, and with little to no regard for those struggling with addiction and mental health issues.

The county prosecutor has been notified by lawyers of the illegality of Ordinance 1354, and the potentially devastating consequences, both fiscally and legally, if Commissioner Swope continues down this path.

Friends, this is reckless and irresponsible. It also may be fiduciary malfeasance, which adds even another layer of legal liability to Lewis County taxpayers.

Please, if you care about responsible use of our tax dollars, and what happens to those that stand to lose the most, come to the county commissioners meeting at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, April 16, at the Lewis County Courthouse in Chehalis.

All this energy. All this hundreds or thousands or millions of dollars. All this time, everything, could be spent on making things better, instead of tearing it all down.

Stop the madness. Reject Ordinance 1354.


Ray Chapman-Wilson