Rep. Jim Walsh testifies on behalf Naselle Youth Camp in House Appropriations Committee

Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, appeared before the House Appropriations Committee Thursday afternoon to testify on behalf of the Naselle Youth CampWalsh was joined by volunteer Chaplin Marty Cole, who also advocated for keeping the treatment center for young male offenders open.

The governor's proposed 2017-19 operating budget seeks to close the successful rehabilitation camp for at-risk youth. Juveniles would be transferred to Green Hill School in Chehalis or Echo Glen Children's Center in Snoqualmie. The camp is run by the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). According to the governor's proposal, the closure and relocation of the camp would save $7.4 million.

“I'd like to see it put back into the budget and funded,” said Walsh, R-Aberdeen. “It is a facility that is important to our state's commitment to rehabilitating youth. And, it is a facility that has been very effective in its mission. Since the governor's budget was announced, I have received far and away more constituent comments on this item than any other issue.”

Cole has been going to the facility for several years. He also testified on behalf of the rehabilitation center.

“I've spent hundreds of hours with these young men, also with the staff and administration,” said Cole. “I've been to other correctional facilities…but I like Naselle Youth Camp and what it does. It's got an incredible impact with young men. So many of them leave as men with a perspective of how to make their lives productive and how to be members of a society that is productive.”

Established in 1966, the youth camp is the main employer for the town of Naselle. According to a 2010 census, the town population is just over 400. The Naselle Youth Camp includes more than 100 employees and can hold up 81 juveniles.

According to DSHS's website: “Naselle Youth Camp in Naselle is a medium security facility that is not fenced. It provides educational and treatment services for male offenders. Educational options include high school diploma and general equivalency diploma (GED). Treatment services include dialectical behavior therapy, anger replacement training, cultural programming, sex offense specific and outpatient chemical dependency treatment. Naselle, in collaboration with the Department of Natural Resources, offers a forestry work program and in collaboration with the Department of Fish and Wildlife, an aquaculture program. Youth involved in the forestry program assist with fighting fires during the height of firefighting season.”

The 2017 legislative session began Monday and is scheduled to run 105 days.

PHOTO CAPTION: Rep. Jim Walsh and volunteer Chaplin Marty Cole testify on behalf of Naselle Youth Camp in House Appropriations Committee Jan. 12.


Washington State House Republican Communications