Forks City Council says,‘Forks Police Department will not be eliminated’

Forks City Council says,‘Forks Police Department will not be eliminated’

Christi Baron

Forks Forum Editor

The Forks City Council meeting got underway Monday night, April 24, with an almost full house. Mayor Bryon Monohon greeted the large crowd and recognized former Forks Mayors Nedra Reed and Phil Arbeiter, as well as former council member Kevin Hinchen.

During the public comment period, two gentlemen from Port Angeles spoke to the council asking for their support on changes to the halibut season. Lissy Andros, director of the Forks Chamber of Commerce, invited the council members to attend the grand opening of the Forever Twilight in the Forks Collection in the Rainforest Arts Center Alcove on May 20.

The March treasurer’s report was discussed, a resolution was passed to surplus a collapsed building and a partial load of logs at the Quillayute Airport. These items will be sold separately on publicsurplus.com. A date was set for a public hearing on The Comprehensive Plan. Former Mayor Reed asked that the Quillayute Valley Park and Recreation District be included. “To be on the Comp Plan is very important so that QVPRD can apply for grants,” Reed said.

The first discussion item was the First Quarter Jail Report and City of Forks Clerk-Treasurer Audry Grafstrom reported that in the first quarter jail revenue was up as compared to last year. There was a short discussion as to what this increase could be attributed to.

Next up was the reason most of the crowd was in attendance, discussion of the police department and hiring a uniformed chief. At a previous meeting council member Ken Ayers had recommended, due to projected falling revenue, that the police department and possibly the jail be eliminated and instead have law enforcement needs contracted with the county.

Ayers spoke first saying, “We have a wide range of options at this time. It looks like running our own police department would be the same cost as contracting with the county. At this time I would recommend keeping FPD and looking at cutting other areas.”

Council member Bill Brager said that everybody wants the police and jail to stay in Forks. “I would do everything to keep it here,” he added. “Discussion can put a scare in everybody, that does not mean that is the direction we will go.” He added the discussion of changing to county officers was in no way a reflection on the current officers.

Council member Jon Preston said as being a victim of burglary not long ago the community can help by locking things up! He complimented Ayers saying he did a wonderful job looking at where the city could be in the future. “The loss of the police department could be a negative for the community that could cause a decay that could manifest itself and affect those living here. Getting rid of it could be a real blow.”

Council member John Hillcar said he would be opposed to any increase in property taxes. “Other cost savings need to happen, I would find that action highly unfair to community members and businesses.” Hillcar encouraged everyone to “find their way to the facts.”

Ayers said his presentation was meant to show where Forks is going as a city. “I was doing research to make sure we are doing the best job for the city, just looking at options,” Brager said he appreciated the honest input.

Mayor Monohon urged all to be cautious with Facebook. He went on to say that an ad will be posted soon with regard to the search for a uniformed police chief.

In council member reports Brager suggested the audience give the police officers in attendance some recognition. Police Administrator Rick Bart asked if he could say a few things first. He asked Forks Police officers Joseph Solberg and Julie Goode to stand and stated that they had both recently saved lives by administering Narcan and that officer Don Ponton also had used the anti-overdose drug the night before. Ponton was working but his wife, Sandy was in the audience.

Bart also stated that Officer Ponton recently was voted Officer of the Year by his co-workers. Officer Brent Kempster was asked to stand next and Bart told the group that Kempster recently had given chase to a vehicle and eventually arrested several individuals, one having a record and four felonies.

Officer Brandon Leask also was asked to stand and was recognized as a past Officer of the Year. Officer Goode added that there has been an increase in car prowls lately but that one of the prime suspects was now in jail.

With that, the audience stood and applauded the officers in attendance. It was almost 9 p.m. The council then went into executive session, the rest of us went home.