The Forks City council meeting got underway at 7:30 p.m. Monday night with a short invocation by Andrew Pursley, Lead Pastor at Forks Assembly of God.
There were no additions to the agenda and council member Jaunita Weissenfels was absent.
Up first was the public comment period. Forks resident John Richmond said he had come because he heard there would be some discussion about elk. He shared some photos of elk damage with council and staff members.
Richmond said as a life-long resident of the area he had encountered elk many places — including the dinner table. He said elk can become semi-domesticated and some methods of deterring them can include hazing, capture and transfer, sterilization and culling. He added that he does have concerns about any kind of open season on them.
Scott Baysinger spoke about his experience with thinning the Sequim elk herd: “There are ways to hunt safely, I helped with guided hunts in Sequim, their numbers are now back to normal in Sequim,” he said.
Baysinger added that special permits arranged access to private land.
Lissy Andros, Executive Director of the Forks Chamber of Commerce, shared that the Visitor Information Center has sent out 2,500 information packets so far in 2018.; this is the number they usually send out in six months. She is anticipating a busy tourist season.
Andros also shared that Forks resident Melene Bourm has volunteered to represent the West End on the Clallam County EDC.
Bruce Guckenberg reported on his activity with the Clallam County Opportunity Fund. A grant/loan for $750,000 was approved for the William Shore Memorial Pool District. The loan and grant will be used for repairs and upgrades at the Port Angeles facility. The Opportunity Fund is a portion of state sales tax earmarked for infrastructure projects in rural counties.
Clerk/Treasurer Audrey Grafstrom went over the Treasurer’s Report and the McGinley annexation was approved.
Council members then discussed the upcoming water tank rehab project. Grafstrom said that funding has been approved and that USDA requires bonds and interim financing.
Up next was a lot of discussion regarding the purchase of new police vehicles. Forks Police Chief Mike Rowley outlined the proposal for four new vehicles: “I need vehicles that are up and running, representing the department in a positive light and that are safe for my officers,” he said.
Rowley shared that recently an officer went to go out on call and the vehicle would not start, and when it finally did it was not running reliably.
“It’s a safety issue for the officers and the community,” Rowley added.
Grafstrom said that Chief Rowley has done a good job so far on cutting expenses and that he has assured her that even with the new vehicle leases he will be in budget. Rowley shared that several local citizens have donated money to the new vehicle fund.
Council member Jon Preston made the motion to approve the new vehicles, also saying he would donate $100 to the cause. Council member John Hillcar shared that he approved two cars now and another two in a year. Councilman Joe Soha said he could see the new vehicles as a boost to department morale. Councilman Bill Brager said, “Four is better,” and seconded the motion to purchase four vehicles. Preston, Brager and Soha voted in favor Hillcar said he preferred two and the motion carried.
The new vehicles will be leased, but at the end of the lease, the department will own them. Rowley said this will mean reduced maintenance costs and that the existing radios will be re-installed in the new cars.
There will be costs for the decal installation and the money received from surplussing the old vehicles should cover those costs.
About the elk
City attorney /planner Rod Fleck shared that city is seeking a two-pronged plan for an ordinance that would allow the discharge of firearms, bows, crossbows inside the city limits and urban growth area when authorized by Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The need for the ordinance is in response to the increases in the population of the local elk herds. Fleck said there would be permits for agricultural use and special hunt tags with a draw system. “We are looking to bring the herd size down and stop the breaking off of smaller herds,” Fleck said.
Fleck said he would look to adopt the ordinance at the next council meeting and that WDFW would most likely adopt the plan in April and implement it late in the fall.
In other reports, a grant has been received to upgrade the cameras in the jail. Chief Rowley shared that he is seeking to change the attitude in the jail by offering counseling and other new programs to those incarcerated.
The meeting adjourned at about 9 p.m.