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City news: Snoqualmie council OKs firing range cleanup; Mayor throws hat in ring
Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson ended speculation Monday on whether he will seek a third term.
"It's been an honor for the past seven years to serve with such a fine group of people, the staff and this council," Larson said at the close of the February 25 council meeting.
"If the citizens of Snoqualmie allow me, I'd like to throw my hat in for another four years."
Larson was unopposed in 2009. In 2005, he beat James Harrelson, 55 percent to 43 percent.
His announcement prompted the rest of the council to declare their intentions, and like Larson, all those due to re-run this fall choose to do so.
"I echo your comment, and I will be running," Maria Henriksen, with position five, told the mayor.
"I am running for my seat," said Kathi Prewitt, in position seven.
Bob Jeans, position one, and Byran Holloway, position three, also confirmed their plans to run.
"Kingston, we'll be in for a quiet November," said position 2 councilman Jeff MacNichols, who ran with Kingston Wall, position 4, and Charles Peterson, position 6, in 2011.
"For once!" replied Kingston.
Police recruitment and firing range cleanup
On Monday, Police Chief Steve McCulley updated the council on the evolving police contract with North Bend.
That contract commences in March of 2014. Snoqualmie will hire six officers, three starting in July, then three more in October.
At least one officer will be on duty in North Bend, 24 hours a day. Besides patrol, McCulley outlined "community caretaker" responsibilities, that include response to all fire calls, house checks and extra officers for community events.
"North Bend has quite a few," he said. "Summers are going to be busy for us."
The Snoqualmie force is ramping up its training methods in the run-up to the historic contract. Recruitment has already begun; The city held physical testing for 10 applicants at Mount Si High School last Sunday for a Snoqualmie vacancy.
"Some sharp people have come to the table," McCulley said. "It's a good test for what we're going to do engage in for North Bend."
McCulley plans on meeting one on one with members of both councils to talk about police expectations for both cities.
"I'm going from nine bosses to 18," the chief said. "That's going to be a big learning curve."
Community outreach in the new contract city will be critical, said McCulley, who plans a citizen survey later this year. Business owner connections, too, are important, as the North Bend merchant community is very different from Snoqualmie.
Police and Public Works are ordering squad cars, which will be marked with joint Snoqualmie and North Bend markings.
The police department's patches are getting a makeover to reflect the new connection—a public design contest is planned to create a new look. But Snoqualmie's badge stays the same, to reflect the department's 103-year identity.
In other business, the city approved a roughly $60,000 contract with NCM of Snoqualmie for clean-up of lead and gunpowder residue in the firing range under Snoqualmie Police Station. The 14-year-old range is used by local police and other agencies, and is due for work. Continued use of the range, the city's motion states, is hazardous due to the concentrations of lead and unburned powder in cracks and crevises.
After clean-up, the city will put in place an annual maintenance program to avoid costly future clean-ups.
The city also looked at a change that expands the hours that fireworks discharge is allowed on the Fourth of July, 9 a.m. to midnight, the same as North Bend. A vote is set for March 11.
The old time was 6 to 11 p.m. on July 4.
The new ordinance also allows fireworks from 10 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. on New Year's Eve.
Snoqualmie Fire Chief Bob Rowe brought up the city's two newest firefighters, Adam Thalhofer and Ethan Glynn.
The two men moved to Snoqualmie to pursue careers, and they're the first graduates of Snoqualmie's new recruiting program that emphasizes medical training first. Nearly 80 percent of the city's call volume is medical calls.
Glynn and Thalhofer passed the entrance exam, and spent four months becoming emergency medical technicians.
"Now, they are being launched into service in the community," Rowe said.
The council amended its contract with the Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce for economic development services.
The 2012 contract paid the chamber $3,750 a month for services that included recruitment and assisting local business. The new contract pays the chamber $1,000 a month, and removes recruitment from the chamber's slate of responsibilities.
"What we have now is the chamber back to their core competence, with business retention and some development," said councilwoman Maria Henriksen, who moved to approve, seconded by Kathi Prewitt.
Chamber interim co-director Ross Bentley said the contract better defines chamber responsibilities.
"If there was a challenge last year," Bentley said, it was that "It was hard for us to say, we did that, we didn't do that."
The agreement charges the chamber's executive director with recruiting, retaining and expanding business and tourism in the city.
The chamber is expanding to meet one on one with business owners to make sure they are being promoted and supported, said Henriksen.
Bentley, who is splitting chamber leadership duties with Danny Evatt, said that after meeting with local merchants, "We see huge potential."
The amended contract sunsets in two years.
In other business, Matt Hansen, King County Metro Transit's supervisor for market development, briefed the council on the new direction being taken in Valley transit.
Hansen unveiled Metro's plans for a demonstration project, which include local service changes, aimed at making bus service better and more efficient.
"One size doesn't fit all," said Hansen.
Changes in Snoqualmie include putting all-day bus service in place in Snoqualmie, on Route 215, which connects North Bend and Snoqualmie with parts west.
Metro proposes speeding up 215 by eliminating the connection to the Issaquah Transit Center.
Peak service on route 209, between North Bend, Snoqualmie, Fall City and Preston will be kept.
In the lower Valley, Metro is proposing a completely new connector between Fall City and Duvall: Contracting out the service to drivers, using vehicles other than buses.
"There's a wide variety of vehicles that have lower costs to operate," Hansen said.