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State of Spokane County address returns after three years

Using the theme "Together Forward,” topics addressed included the change in the county's commissioners districts and their behavioral health initiatives.

SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. — The last time Spokane County Commissioner Mary Kuney gave a State of the County address was back in 2019.

Now three years and a pandemic later, she stepped back in front of community and business leaders at the Spokane Convention Center on Thursday to deliver this year's address.

Using the theme "Together Forward,” some of the topics the commissioner spoke about included the change in the county's government, which is moving from three commissioner districts to five at the start of the new year. She also touched on the county's behavioral health initiatives. Those include the Teen Text Line, the Homeless Outreach, Stabilization and Transition (HOST) program and the stabilization center that opened up last fall.

“We have a lot of opportunity to help these people and so we want to do that,” said Commissioner Kuney. “I can't force someone to seek that help. That's up to that individual. But, we have all the resources and opportunities for them to get help.”

One thing not touched upon during Kuney’s address: the homeless encampment by I-90 and Freya.

The commissioner said the county's been part of the conversation with the city when trying to figure out facilities and beds, but says it's up to the city. 

“The Commerce funding was going to be coming to the city, not the county," Kuney said. "So, we wanted to have them, since a lot of this was within the city, have the ability to figure out how we're going to handle and help with those individuals.”

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich also took the stage to talk about Spokane County's law enforcement.

As his term starts to wind down, the sheriff shared with the crowd one thing he regrets. ”What's my regrets? It will always be the Spokane County Jail. It's good to hear though members of our community start recognizing that we need a new facility.”

Commissioner Kuney said there are at this time preliminary discussions about the jail.

Sheriff Knezovich also expressed his doubts about the new commissioner districts: “Our new form of government troubles me because I envision and I predict it will become fiefdoms and there will be no clear vision for Spokane County at that point.”

As this year ends and a new year’s set to begin, Commissioner Kuney said the county will keep moving forward.

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