Douglas County was created in 1883 and named after U.S. Senator Steven Douglas of Illinois who was the chairman of the U.S. Commission on Territories when the Territory of Washington was created. Waterville was designated the County Seat in 1886 and the current Courthouse was initially constructed in 1905.
Douglas County is located near the geographic center of Washington. The Columbia River binds it on the north, the west and the south. Grant County, formerly a part of Douglas County, is on the east. Douglas County is geographically diverse with elevations ranging from 600 feet above sea level near the Columbia River to more than 4,000 feet on Badger Mountain. Basalt rock outcrops and glacial erratics can be found in close proximity to fertile farmland. Irrigated orchard lands are located primarily in the lower elevations while dryland farming dominates the upland areas. Forested areas and areas with steppe shrub vegetation provide diverse wildlife habitat in the county.
With an area of 1,820 square miles, Douglas County ranks 17 in size of Washington’s 39 counties. The estimated 2014 population is 39,700 providing a population density of 21.8 persons per square mile. The US Census Bureau categorizes 66.1% of the population of Douglas County as white and 30.1% of the population is identified as being of Spanish origin. In 2013 there were an estimated 2.75 persons per household in Douglas County with a median household income of $51,908.
County residents enjoy four distinct seasons. Even so, the weather conditions are noticeably different throughout the county due to the geographic diversity. These weather statistics are an example:
|Average Maximum January Temperature||30.9°||34.4°|
|Average Minimum January Temperature||15.6°||21.7°|
|Average Maximum July Temperature||82.1°||87.8°|
|Average Minimum July Temperature||52.7°||59.9°|
|Average Annual Precipitation||11.41 inches||8.95 inches|
|Average Annual Snowfall||43.2 inches||27.9 inches|
|Source: National Weather Service|
The primary industry in Douglas County is agriculture including the raising of crops and associated industries including packaging, warehousing, shipping and processing. Apples, wheat and cattle are the primary crops although there are significant other crop varieties in the county. Approximately 33% of the workforce in Douglas County is employed in agriculture, twice that of retail trade, which is the second highest employment sector.
Additional information on Douglas County is available through the local chambers of commerce, the North Central Regional Library, Washington State data sources, U.S. Bureau of the Census and links in this website.
What is the Douglas County Commission?
The Douglas County Board of Commissioners is the legislative authority for Douglas County and is responsible for the overall administration of Douglas County government. The Board is responsible for the adoption of an annual budget, levies taxes and appropriates all funds for expenditure. The Board of Commissioners enacts ordinances, enters into governmental contracts and agreements, adopts land use policies and development regulations for unincorporated areas, establishes policies, makes appointments to advisory committees and is responsible for assuring that County facilities and roads are constructed and maintained. Members of the Board of Commissioners also serve on other governmental bodies such as the Chelan-Douglas Health District Board of Health and the Link (public transit) Board. The Board represents Douglas County at various intergovernmental forums and community events.
There are three Commissioner districts with an approximate equal portion of the population of the County in each. As the regional government within Douglas County, the Board of Commissioners represents citizens in both the incorporated areas of the cities/towns and the unincorporated area of the county. Commissioners are elected to staggered four-year terms. Contact the Auditor’s Office for information on which district you reside in. Regular session days for the Board of Commissioners are Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of each week (excluding holidays) beginning at 9:30 AM in the Commissioners Chambers at the Courthouse.
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