The State of the City in my first 6 months.
Posted on Monday June 29, 2020
Good day Colville!
I have to start by saying that I was counting on my first 6 months in office to be a time of learning, settling in and getting to know staff and Council. The reality of that time span however has been quite different. While I have gotten to know these folks, the learning curve has been a bit like the old saying of "drinking from a fire hose". I do feel fortunate to have the staff and Council I have as they have been patient and tolerant with "the new Mayor" and my lack of mayoral experience.
It's long been my intent to share some information with City residents on this page, but finding the time and having accurate information to report are key and so what follows is an update, some of which you may already know.
The rebuild and overlay of the Railroad Avenue/Truck Bypass is complete. It was finished ahead of schedule and under budget.These were accomplished by proper City staff project management and a local contractor that worked with the City towards efficiencies in construction and cost. I'm grateful for both these groups and look forward to using a much smoother street that will last us for a long time.
The construction project at the intersection of Main & Astor streets has been approved by City Council and will likely begin sometime near August 1, 2020 give or take a few days. The contractor and the City have been engaged in only preliminary discussion thus far and those start dates will be solidified in the next week or so.There will be disruptions to the downtown businesses in that construction location and these are unavoidable given the scope of this project. However, we have a contractor that is mindful of our desires to keep the disruptions to a minimum and that pedestrian ability to move through that area before and after construction hours will need to be maintained. The project duration is expected to be approximately 40 days, meaning that it should wrap up in early September.
I want to openly discuss a couple of matters that are frequently in the news these days, those being police reform and the protests that we are seeing about law enforcement, even here.
The City of Colville Police Department employs a Chief, a Sergeant, an Animal Control Officer, an Administrative Assistant and 8 Patrol Officers when fully staffed. The policies and directives that dictate the operational environment in which these individuals perform their duties are completely in compliance with State mandated training in such areas as the Use of Force continuum, police vehicle pursuit, force deescalation and crisis intervention. Nothing has changed within the CPD as far as law and policy compliance, except as the laws change, the training changes and the Department strives always to remain in compliance.
As for what is occurring in the other, more populated areas of Washington State with the protests, let me be clear about my thoughts on it with you.
The right to protest peacefully is an appropriate right and one that can prompt real change under certain conditions. We have had a few local protests about various things and I applaud all those that have shown us that peaceful protest can occur without the senseless violence and destruction that has accompanied these protests in other places. I cannot speak for any other locale, but I'm grateful to live in a place with dignified and sensible folks that can disagree without resorting to a fight.
To tie these two thoughts together though, if violence occurs here in any form, your trained and professional CPD is ready to protect and defend. It's their job to be sure but as I personally know most of these officers, their personal integrity and dedication to their profession would allow them nothing other than to "serve and protect".
I've also had questions about the trees around Colville, especially the ones that are cut off, dead or dying. The City Street and Parks Departments are working as time allows, to replace these dead/dying trees and are also working to replace the trees that were cut down on S. Wynne St. Those particular trees required removal because the wrong ones were planted there many years ago and they were growing up into Avista's high-voltage electrical lines. As the good neighbors they always are, Avista cut down the trees in question and also donated $150.00 per tree with which to replace these trees with a dwarf variety that will not become the problems that the others were. Thank you Avista! Also, the old trees did some pretty significant damage to the sidewalks on S. Wynne, so City staff will also be doing some concrete work in conjunction with tree replacement. Many volunteers have served on several occasions removing the decorative rocks in the tree planters and bulb-outs so that they can be replaced with mulch/bark, reducing the summer time heat that kills these trees. We are fortunate to have so many dedicated volunteers that consistently strive towards downtown beautification.
Lastly, I want to thank and congratulate long-time City Street Supervisor Jeff Long on his retirement! He will leave the City on June 30 after 28 years of dedicated service to us all. Best wishes going forward Jeff!
As always, I want to remind residents here in Colville that I work for YOU! Please contact me anytime, with any questions, comments or concerns and I will do my best to address them in a timely manner.
Ralph Lane Jr, Mayor