The town clerk, administrator, and fire and police chiefs sit in front of a giant stack of boxes from the local food bank awaiting distribution to hungry families.
PHOTOS BY COLBY HESS
The town clerk, administrator, and fire and police chiefs sit in front of a giant stack of boxes from the local food bank awaiting distribution to hungry families. PHOTOS BY COLBY HESS

The final Eatonville Town Council meeting of 2018 took place on Monday, Dec. 10, and council members presented a united front to set legislative priorities for 2019. The council is seeking to maximize what they see as benefits for Eatonville and its residents. The council’s priorities include;

•Rural economic development

•State-shared revenue

•A public works trust fund

•Funding for infrastructure improvements

Council agreed having a common and consistent set of talking points when meeting with state legislators could help the town achieve its goals more effectively in the limited time available when speaking with senators and congress members.

“You only get a few minutes among a whole lot of others (vying for their attention),” said Mayor Mike Schaub.

Council agreed on having two or three specific projects lined up for each of the four items, which could increase the chances of receiving funding or other forms of assistance for bringing projects to fruition.

Town Administrator Abby Gribi expanded upon what sort of projects the town has in mind and also what types of grants and other financial arrangements are available.

Gribi said the need to upgrade or replace the town’s water tower was a priority.  This is something the mayor admitted often “causes him sleepless nights during the summer,” worrying what would happen if one of the two pumps currently in operation were to fail.

Gribi sounded optimistic, noting that the Washington Department of Commerce has many grants available in 2019. Gribi has been advised by legislators to “apply, and apply, and apply again” for funding, as doing so increases the odds of receiving it.  Councilmember James Schrimpsher agreed, pointing out that the recent completion of the town’s comprehensive plan would expand the town’s eligibility for receiving funding.

Among the grant monies available are funds to improve education and job training, which would contribute to economic development, and also funds to assist in supplying school resource officers (SROs). SROs could help the district when responding to safety incidents, such as last week’s school lockdowns.

As for public works, the council unanimously approved two resolutions, 2018-LL and 2018-MM, to accept current grants offered by the state’s Transportation Improvement Board. These will go toward upcoming construction to repair Lynch Street, Rainier Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue. Similar grants would allow for additional projects and improvements in the future.

The final of the four items, state shared revenue, concerns Eatonville’s percentage of state liquor taxes and other sources of revenue. Gribi explained the town will work to earn it’s “fair share” of the pot.

POLICE CHIEF TALKS CATCH AND RELEASE FOR TEENS

Eatonville Police Chief Brian Witt gave a report on recent arrests of juveniles, mostly for offenses such as fighting, minor property crimes and drug possession.

“It’s all about getting these kids back to their parents, regardless of the crime,” he said, explaining how there’s been a “philosophy change” at the state level and a preference for “rehabilitation and intervention rather than incarceration.”

He noted the area’s juvenile detention center is currently housing only 20 inmates, down from a previous high of nearly 200.

Councilmember Robert Thomas called the new policy a “catch and release” policy and questioned if there would be any upcoming changes to it. The chief responded it was unlikely as detaining juveniles was simply “too costly.”

IN OTHER NEWS

The council abstained on voting to lift the current moratorium on retail marijuana stores, as Councilmember Jennie Hannah was not present. Residents narrowly approved an advisory vote to allow such shops in last month’s election. The council will take it up as an agenda item for the next meeting, which is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 14.

Ordinance 2018-15, which was given a public hearing at the previous council meeting, was approved unanimously. The ordinance amends the current year budget to provide more money for the street fund to pay for street and sidewalk improvements currently underway should they be billed out before the end of the year.

Councilmember Thomas was nominated and approved as the next Mayor Protem, with a term lasting for the first six months of 2019. Councilmember Schrimpsher was nominated and approved as the Alternate. Council members Hannah and Walter currently hold the two positions.

Resolution 2018-KK was approved, increasing the budget for Construction Management and Design Support During Construction services for the town’s ongoing Washington Avenue North Corridor Streetscape project. Mayor Schaub explained how expansion of the original scope of the project, as well as construction delays, have necessitated additional engineering and supervision. He noted even with this increase, the overall project is running approximately $30,000 under budget. Councilmember Thomas was the lone dissenting voice, questioning the need for the increase and subsequently voting against it.

The council unanimously approved the appointment of Daniel Adams to the town’s Planning Commission for a six-year term.

“He’s been very engaged,” said Schaub, who nominated him.

Adams is currently serving in the position as temporary appointment through the rest of the year.

Gribi reported construction for the new addition to Eatonville Town Hall will begin immediately. She also reported that the town’s new snowplow and salt spreader are ready for winter, noting that they are “much better equipment than what we had previously.”

Councilmember Bob Walter reminded residents to purchase their 2019 pet licenses, since doing so helps generate revenue for the town.