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VANCOUVER -- The Clark County sheriff has declined a request to escort state grain inspectors past picket lines in a long-running contract dispute between a Vancouver grain terminal and a union.

Sheriff Garry Lucas cited neutrality and other reasons to explain why his office would not contract with United Grain Corp to provide security escorts.

The Columbian says he explained his decision in a letter Tuesday.

United Grain and the county's Board of Commissioners made the request to the sheriff's office after Gov. Jay Inslee decided last month to stop using the Washington State Patrol to escort state grain inspectors.

The state agriculture department stopped grain inspections on July 7 because of security concerns, and United Grain's operations were halted.

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