The Washington State Department of Transportation denied help from one county to clean up a “freak winter storm” because it does not mandate employee vaccinations.
“Washington State informed Kittitas County they could not accept this assistance due to Kittitas County not mandating the COVID-19 vaccination for County employees. The Kittitas County Board of Commissioners is extremely disappointed with the States’ position to refuse assistance,” a press release from Kittitas County on Wednesday states.
The county received significant snowfall over Jan. 5 and 6, which was described as a “freak winter storm” by local outlet KHQ. The storm forced the Snoqualmie Pass to close for over 90 hours and some supply chain issues were subsequently reported, according to the outlet.
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The county offered assistance to the Washington State Department of Transportation to clean up state roads on Jan. 11 but was subsequently denied over lack of vaccine mandate.
“This county is ready, as always, to put all hands on deck to solve this problem. It’s time for logic and leadership to overcome ideology and allow skilled equipment operators working alone in their cabs to get this job done,” Kittitas County Commissioner Cory Wright said in the press release.
All Washington state employees were required to be fully vaccinated or face termination in mid-October. This resulted in 48 state employees no longer working on a maintenance and snow removal team in Kittitas County, the county said in the press release.
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In November, the county “signed an interlocal agreement with the Washington State Department of Transportation. WSDOT requested this agreement based on an identified need for additional resources caused by reduced staffing.”
But instead of using the county workers, the state hired a private contractor to clear the snow.
“On Tuesday Jan. 11, Kittitas County Public Works reached out about clearing State Route 903 near the small town of Ronald in unincorporated Kittitas County. County crews informed WSDOT they could not meet the vaccination declaration required of all interlocal agreements and contracts with Washington state agencies,” WSDOT said in a statement posted to its Twitter account Wednesday evening.
“WSDOT secured a private contractor to clear the roadway with work beginning Wednesday morning,” the state agency added in its press release.
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Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment on the matter.