Winterfest display

Sept. 28, The latest from the Benton County Commission

Editors note: Mike’s report has been updated to include the name of the retiring judge.

Northwest Winter Fest coming to town! Today the Benton County Commissioners approved the fairgrounds to be used by the NW Winter Festival.

 I spoke to the Director Sam Song, and he shared this bit with me. The group has led a successful festival in Spokane for two years and is making a comeback this year in Spokane and Tri-Cities. In 2015 their light show in Spokane was the largest event in Spokane since 1974! Now they want to bring it to the Tri-Cities February 10 to March 20, 2022. They will bring in truckloads of LED displays celebrating the winters of the Northwest and an Asian version of an American Christmas Holiday. I’m thrilled because you can never get enough Christmas!

You can buy tickets around Christmas time at Tickets are about 50 bucks for a family of four and expect to spend about an hour at the lights. There will also be food vendors and merchandise.

Body Cameras

The Sheriff’s office has to obtain body cameras by the end of the year to meet the requirements of laws passed during the last legislative session. They will use Axon the same company the other Tri-cities are using. This will allow them to readily share footage with other Tri-City police departments and Franklin County when they investigate a crime or are involved in an event. Pasco has used them for years with success.

The proposal was to spend about $1.3 million on the system with about $900,000 of that sum coming from the state. This will support the camera usage for five years.

Furthermore, the county needs to ask Pasco how they handle records request to see if Benton County may follow their lead.

Lease with State Prisons

Apparently the Benton County Jail leases space to the state prison department. The state has an office and parking they pay for each month to keep in touch with their prisoners. Benton county gets about $100 a day for each inmate then Benton County charges the State Prisons for other services like giving meds, seeing the doctor and such.

The board approved the contract with the state to last till June 30, 2023. It had to be back dated to January 1st of this year because it had expired and needed to be re-negotiated. The Benton County jail also expects to host more State inmates till end of year because they expect to lose guards over the COVID vaccination issues.

Our jail is a holding spot for east side inmates that must serve on west side.

There’s a new sheriff in town!

The next big issue later this afternoon was appointment of a new Sheriff after the public firing of Mr. Hatcher.  Mr. Tom Croskrey, who quit in summer of 2020 due to Mr. Hatcher’s poor leadership, was the Republican Parties top choice.

 Croskrey was a Benton County Sheriff Patrol Deputy from 1992-2004 then moved to Richland till he retired in 2019. Then Hatcher hired him in February of 2019 and put him in charge of the jail.

The commissioners later took the jail over in October of 2019 and contracted it out. Croskrey was moved to oversee Administration.

Before Croskrey left he filed a hostile work complaint against Hatcher to Benton County‘s HR department. Like John Law, Croskrey is also suing the county over the Hatcher deal.

None of this lawsuit makes sense to me. I will have to learn more of this lawsuit as we go. It does seem like a conflict to all parties now and I can’t imagine how tough sheriffs are if they sue the taxpayers they protect. It’s not logical, mostly if they are seeking monetary damage for something it took taxpayers to get rid of.

Never mind Brad Klippert who was our state legislator and worked for Hatcher but was quiet as a mouse during Hatcher’s time in office. He also failed to place a bill in front of legislation which would have reduced Hatcher’s abuse of power. Something all voters need to remember as Klippert runs for Congress next year.

It seems Croskrey is held in high regard among his peers as I heard testimony in support of him.


Another judge is retiring. Judge Catherine Butler is retiring from District Court. A new judge will be solicited to fill her term. If there are no candidates, then the county will use a “traveling judge program” that I guess the state has. In researching the judges, I noticed that all of the male Benton County District Court judges have the same facial hair.

That’s all I got. Mike

*Hi, I am Mike Lowery and will be helping the Observer cover events in Benton County. I have
spent about 25 years of my 60 year life in the Tri-Cities, most in Richland. After Army and a
short career working on boats I went on to college at CBC. Then I worked 15 years on
commercial nuclear power plants. We moved back to Tri-Cities and been in Richland for 20
years. I tried to help Hanford for 18 years. I have three degrees from Columbia Basin College,
yes that’s weird. Studied economics and religion at Liberty University, St. Leos College in FL,
University of Illinois, University of Washington more at CBC. House dad now to my working wife, two cats and a dog. Our boy’s all work and study in the northwest. I spend time riding my electric bike or crashing it, building small wood and metal projects, enjoying Electronic Music and camping. Writing is something I love to do but not very good at it.