North Bend takes DSHS to court over sex-offender halfway house

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NORTH BEND - The city of North Bend has filed suit with the Superior Court of Washington to have a site located near Exit 38 taken off a list of potential locales for a Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) sex-offender halfway house.

The action, filed April 29 by the city along with resident Ayesha Tidwell and the Safe Kids Task Force community group, names DSHS and its secretary, Dennis Braddock, as defendants and claims that the state did not follow its own policy when it announced earlier this year that the land near the Washington State Patrol Fire Training Academy was in consideration for the facility.

The lawsuit states that the city is "entitled to preliminary and permanent injunctions requiring defendants to remove the site near North Bend from the list of potential locations for a [halfway house facility] and prohibiting defendants from adding the site near North Bend to the list at any later time or from selecting the site near North Bend as a site for the [facility]."

Mayor Joan Simpson said the action, which comes just days before DSHS officials are scheduled to hold a public meeting in North Bend, is among the few things left for the city to do in dealing with the issue.

"North Bend feels like we have no other choice," said Simpson.

A trial date was scheduled to be assigned Tuesday after the Valley Record's deadline. City Attorney Mike Kenyon said while that date was expected to be 12-14 months down the road, there are aspects of the action he felt would be in front of a judge in 90 days. Because the suit has been filed, Kenyon said the state could not choose the fire training academy site until the North Bend action was resolved.

The filing follows last month's announcement that the city is planning on canceling its about $1-million police services contract with the King County Sheriff's Office. City officials said that move was provoked by the recent King County Council recommendation, backed by Executive Ron Sims, to put the North Bend area site on the list of contenders for the halfway house.

For the complete story, pick up a copy of this week's Valley Record

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