Clark County Council approves money to help food establishments

More than 73 businesses have declined to renew their retail food licenses amidst the pandemic


CLARK COUNTY — Clark County businesses that serve food could be receiving help in the form of $1.36 million in relief funding unanimously approved this week by the Clark County Council. 

Gov. Jay Inslee’s order in March which temporarily closed restaurants to in-person dining left many reeling. In Phase 2, restaurants can now allow dine-in business at half of normal capacity, with no more than five people per table.

“Caterers were required to cancel existing contracts,” said Bashaw, “and have been very limited in their ability to develop new contracts as social gatherings are limited to five people or fewer.”

A sign in a Woodland Subway window last March informed customers that the dine-in area was closed. Photo by Mike Schultz
A sign in a Woodland Subway window last March informed customers that the dine-in area was closed. Photo by Mike Schultz

Multi-event coordinators have also seen their businesses all but dry up with many weddings either postponed or greatly reduced in size, and most Summer concerts and other events canceled.

The county, which has 1,761 active food permits has seen 73 establishments closed, at least temporarily

Twenty-five others have been approved to pay their license renewal through an installment plan approved by the Public Health Department, said Public Health Food Safety Program Manager Brigette Bashaw during Tuesday’s virtual council meeting. Another 17 are on a partial repayment plan.

The funding approved Tuesday will allow any licensed food establishment that made less than $1 million in revenue last year to apply for relief. The amount could vary from $258 to $1,835, according to Bashaw, and would depend on the amount paid for this year’s retail food permit.

“It’s not much but it’s something,” said Councilor Julie Olson. “And hopefully we won’t lose a large number of more restaurants as we try to finish this year and get through this crisis.”

Mill Creek Pub in Battle Ground is one of dozens of Clark County food establishments that have closed during the pandemic. Photo by Mike Schultz
Mill Creek Pub in Battle Ground is one of dozens of Clark County food establishments that have closed during the pandemic. Photo by Mike Schultz

Clark County received nearly $27 million as part of the CARES Act funding package approved by congress last March, which provided $150 billion in direct aid to local governments. 

The county has been one of the more vocal local governments in Washington state to accuse the Department of Commerce (DoC) of failing to fully disperse those funds. DoC has announced plans to release an additional $247 million in funding for local governments, though details on how the money would be allocated have not yet been released.

Bashaw said businesses that qualify for the relief funding will need to apply, either online or via telephone, but won’t need to provide proof that the money was spent on coronavirus-related expenses.

Public Health is hoping to distribute the funding internally, but could contract with the nonprofit Mercy Corps Northwest if the state requires it. The concern there would be that the county has a relatively tight window to apply for reimbursement of the funds from the state, which is requiring that local governments apply to receive CARES Act funding by Oct. 31.

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About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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