By Forks Forum Staff
With just 31 days under his belt as the newest Mayor of Forks, Tim Fletcher addressed a packed house at the weekly meeting of the Forks Chamber of Commerce last Wednesday.
In a short intro, before handing the meeting over to city staff that was also in attendance, Fletcher thanked everyone at city hall for all their hard work. Fletcher welcomed everyone and listed a number of boards and committees he has already joined; including the Clallam Transit Board Financial Advisory committee, and as the City representative on the Forks Chamber of Commerce Board.
Fletcher said he will continue to work on tourism and timber issues and a way to stop job loss in the community through a sustainable harvest.
“It is my goal to bring jobs to the community and to also create more affordable housing,” Fletcher said.
He added that options for housing might include Tiny House neighborhoods.
“Since taking office I have been working with the project list, we have water tank rehab projects coming up.” Fletcher went on to say he is ready to address the drug problem in the community and has talked with Forks Police Chief Mike Rowley with regard to FPD working with other agencies to pursue dealers and to urge the courts to bring down stiffer penalties. Fletcher said he would also like to see help given to those that want to break the habit.
Forks’ Clerk-Treasurer Audrey Grafstrom offered a slide presentation introducing office staff Karen Depew, Nerissa Davis, Holly Clark and Ginger Simons. Depew and Davis have been with the city a number of years and Clark and Simons were both hired in November of 2013. She pointed out that all are Forks High School graduates.
Grafstrom then shared some details with regard to the cities relatively new, 2-year old, web site. The site now offers online payment of utility bills and other fees as well as being a resource for city council agendas, minutes and other reports. It also hosts information on the Forks Police Department and she shared that the jail roster is the most frequently visited tab on the site. “We plan to also in the near future offer a Facebook page,” Grafstrom said, then mentioning the recent jail escape and a way to get the word out quickly on social media was being considered.
“We are always looking at ways to reduce expenses,” Grafstrom said, adding that when Interfor shut down the city took a real hit with a loss of jobs as well as a loss of utility tax that was paid to the city in the amount of $25,000 yearly.
Public Works/Building Inspector Paul Hampton updated on new staff in his department, Steven Gaydeski and Mike Hirsch. Longtime employee Ivan Cowles retired this past year and another longtime employee Tim Smith may also be looking at retiring soon. Hampton said his staff has been busy replacing leaky water meters and fixing other major leaks in the water system. “We recently purchased a camera and smoke equipment to help identify problems in the lines,” Hampton said. He said the city’s Waste Water Treatment Plant received an award in 2016 from the Department of Ecology. For the ninth consecutive year, the City of Forks Waste Water Treatment Plant was awarded an Outstanding Performance Award. The award recognizes that the plant met its pollution limits, monitoring and reporting requirements, spill prevention planning, pretreatment and overall operational demands of their water quality permit. Hampton said the plant is looking at replacement or repairs to a number of items at the facility in the near future.
Projects completed include the paving at Campbell Street, although Hampton said there is a slight issue with a drain at that location that needs addressing, but added that it had rained five inches in one day and there was a lot of flooding everywhere on that day.
“We did get money to help repair those (potholes) and a grant to work on Elderberry Avenue which is a project that will be combined with sidewalks on Spartan Avenue,” Hampton said.
City attorney/planner Rod Fleck said the city continues to work on timber issues. “Our local Department of Natural Resources staff continues to work hard, and Olympia has work to do,” Fleck said with regard to a strategy for timber harvests. Fleck shared challenges still lay ahead with the Olympic Experimental State Forest and the upcoming decision by the Board of Natural Resource and the Marbled Murrelet.
Fleck pointed out that the city hosts Kevin Hoult, Certified Business Advisor, with the Small Business Development Center, in the ICN Building on Spartan Ave. Hoult is available several times a month to advise small business owners in the area on a variety of topics and his service is free.
Fleck touched on crime and Clallam County District II Court that shares space at City Hall.
Fleck added, “The city’s Comprehensive Plan update is done.” Forks’ Comprehensive Plan shapes the City’s zoning and subdivision regulations, capital improvement programming and budgeting, and other legal and regulatory actions necessary to manage Forks’ physical, social, and environmental character. Fleck also shared that a Vacation Rental Ordinance is well in the works. “If you want to do a project, come to the city first, we can help answer questions and save folks some time and trouble,” Fleck said.
Forks Police Chief Mike Rowley said the city of Forks wanted a working police chief and that is what he is. He was appointed last October and has named officer Don Ponton as the new Sergeant. Sgt. Ponton has been helping out with administrative duties.
Rowley shared the new Mission Statement for his department. The new statement says in part “We have adopted an uncompromising approach to the highest ethical standards, being honest, truthful, and worthy of your trust. We believe in the importance of treating others with respect and conducting ourselves in a manner that inspires respect. We believe in who we are, what we do, and working hard to do the job right. We are proud to be a part of the Forks Community and to serve all of you.”
“My goal is to make Forks a safer place to visit and work,” Rowley said, adding, “My goals are for training to continue for all officers, to add a forensic interviewer, to continue to work with other agencies like OPNET, Washington State Patrol, and even Olympic Corrections Center, as we did a few weeks ago after the jail escape.”
“Narcotics are still a large part of our criminal activity. Lock your cars!” Rowley said, “Stops my officers make, make the community a safer place. Everyone should look to the Evergreen Loop neighborhood, they are a good example of looking out for criminal activity.” Rowley went on to say he wants to continue to build trust, “The community is our customer.”
Rowley said the jail will continue to be maximized with agreements from other entities to house their inmates and get paid in doing so. “As far as our local jail population we don”t want to see them back, we will continue to work with Forks Abuse and Peninsula College,” Rowley said. “We also need Neighborhood Watch programs. We need people to stand-up and be a witness if needed. We can stop the cycle.”