Last Wednesday the Forks Chamber of Commerce weekly Zoom meeting hosted Forks Mayor Tim Fletcher, and city department heads; it was the annual State of the City Address.
Crime is down …potholes are being repaired and the city has two months of operating reserves … The city and police department employs twenty-two people. The majority of those employees, are Forks High Grads! But what else is new?
Up first was Clerk-Treasurer Audrey Grafstrom. She shared the good news regarding the city’s reserves. The city has also just completed a two-year audit which was performed remotely. It was a three-pronged audit and there were no findings by auditors.
The city also distributed Cares Act funds to 13 businesses in Forks. The city did take on debt to do much-needed rehab to a water tank and in 2021 some more aging equipment will need to be replaced. Some funds were also received to help with delinquent water accounts.
Public Work Director Paul Hampton shared that now due to a relationship with Enterprise his department has replaced old falling apart vehicles and now has another truck that can plow snow. His department has been on a mission to reduce water leaks through-out the city water system; more than 25 leaks have been fixed saving an estimated 3 million gallons of water.
His department is also on a mission to change out aging water meters with more accurate equipment. “We have a new water trailer, and can now deliver water if needed, we assisted some residents at Beaver after a slide took out their system,” Hampton said. Also new is a hot patch trailer and roller, asphalt can now be recycled and used again in patching potholes.
Upcoming street projects include Spartan Avenue; including new sidewalks by the Post Office, upgrades for Tillicum Park include new lighting and a security camera system.
Rod Fleck city attorney/planner said COVID has affected fines and jail time. He said the city continues to work with the EDC for ideas for the Industrial Park. Fleck has also been kept busy by the sudden rule change by the WDFW in December. He has met with guides, lawmakers, and tribes as this fishing change has impacted the community.
Fleck continues to work on timber issues saying our local Department of Natural Resources is trying to meet set harvest levels.
He mentioned changes to building permits, changing the definition of a duplex, and the rise of interest in small/tiny houses. “On March 10 we got the first call about COVID, and we started to work with Clallam County Emergency Management. We got to fight back this month, instead of just reacting we vaccinated 1,170 people and hope to reach the goal of 6,000.”
Forks Police Cheif Mike Rowley shared, “It has been a tough year trying to limit COVID exposure, we had 248 bookings last year.” Some crime statistics …crime is down but DUI’s are up. “Clallam County has gotten rid of some drug suppliers, which is helping the crime rate,” Rowley shared, adding, “My staff is working really well with Clallam County deputies, best I have ever seen.”
Rowley also said another new officer was due to start with his department on Monday.
For Mayor Fletcher’s part, he asked that the community put 2020 behind and work together in 2021.
He reiterated some of the department heads’ successes and thanked the city council for their part in many of the decisions made.
He thanked the Allen Trust for their financial participation in many of the upgrades at Tillicum Park. He said he is looking forward to working with the Pacific Salmon Coalition in creating a pond that could be stocked with fish and used for the Kids Fishing Day event.
Fletcher said he would continue to work with the EDC on relief funds and WDFW and local guides and work for a guaranteed timber harvest as well as look for an anchor business at the Industrial Park, and Broadband will continue to be a priority.
Mayor Fletcher said he would like to add strength through partnerships with local tribes through liaisons which he recently acted upon. The Mayor ended his comments by asking community members to volunteer when they saw a need and thanking our local PUD crews for keeping the lights on and then …I think he said …
“I do have one suggestion for the coming year …we definitely need more cowbell.” (If you are a fan of Saturday Night Live you will get that joke.)