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Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s department warning of stolen mail, credit cards

MONTESANO, Wash. – Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Deputies are investigating stolen mail and fradulent credit card charges after a North county resident reported seeing several mailboxes left open on her road this week. Chief Criminal Deputy Steve Shumate tells us on Tuesday they received a complaint that mail had been stolen from the mail box in the 400 block of Ocean Beach Road (Hoquiam). The resident advised that she noticed her and her neighbors mailbox had been left open the day prior. The resident later checked her credit card account and discovered that someone had fraudulently charged over $1000.00 within the past 24 hours on her account. The majority of the fraudulent charges occurred at businesses in Aberdeen.

The Sheriff’s Department is investigating the theft of the mail and the Aberdeen Police Department will be handling the fraudulent credit card charges within their city.

Shumate adds “This would be a good reminder to all residents, particularly those who live in remote areas of the county, to be aware of this type of activity. This time of year we see an increase of mail thefts where suspects hope to find Christmas money, gift cards, or items of value.

Vini Samuel declines prosecutor appointment

MONTESANO, Wash. – Grays Harbor County faces a difficult situation with what could become a precedent-setting decision, just to find a County Prosecutor. The commissioners today heard their answer from appointee Vini Samuel, not only did she decline she urged them to pick Deputy Prosecutor Katie Svoboda.
The commissioners received a letter from Samuel just before 5 Wednesday evening. On Monday they had asked her to take the oath of office since she had been – either chosen for appointment, or appointed in October, she said she would provide her answer on Wednesday.
One theory on the matter holds that the county commissioners would ask the Democrats for another list of three willing candidates, after their appointed candidate reconsidered and re-created the vacancy. Others are waiting for a 60-day clock to run up on November 29th, sending the matter to the Washington Governor’s desk for a decision regardless.

Fire investigation will keep Pioneer Avenue closed for now in Montesano

MONTESANO, Wash. – Pioneer street through downtown Montesano will remain closed in front of a burned out building through the weekend, Police Chief Brett Vance said they should have the roadway open in time for the rest of the holidays. “We’re hoping that the whole thing will be taken care of by Festival of Lights [December 13th] but we should have the roadway [open] within the next 4 or 5 days.”
The cause of the fire that destroyed a vacant building at the corner of Fleet Street and Pioneer Avenue remains under investigation. The walls of the building are weak enough that city officials have closed off the street nearby in case of a collapse. 

Outgoing councilman challenges city to stop airing dirty laundry

MONTESANO, Wash. – It may be time to bring in the laundry and “make Montesano what it used to be.” Outgoing city councilman Doug Streeter last night issued the challenge to fellow council, city staff, and residents to make my job more difficult “I’ve always been proud to say that I live in Montesano. The last year and a half it’s been an utter embarrassment to me. We’ve got a lot of healing to do, we need to come together as a community and stop airing our dirty laundry in the newspapers.” Streeter motioned to myself and the editor of The Vidette, adding “I know, Steve and  Dave you guys have jobs to do. We need to stop using sources to get our agendas done – whatever those agendas might be.” – thanks Doug, you probably owed me one, anonymous news tips can be emailed to news@kbkw.com by the way.
 
The city has been in litigation more than some lawyers lately with union grievances, employee suspensions, and internal investigations. With most of that behind them now, councilwoman Pam McElliot replied “We’re going to turn ourselves around, get on the right track, and I think. I think everything’s going to be just fine.
Election results were certified last night, Marisa Salzer will be filling Streeter’s position 2 seat on the council at their next regular meeting.

Montesano softens changes to water bill, may reconsider strict leak policy

MONTESANO, Wash. – After taking heat over a drastic change to the city’s water leak policy, Montesano Mayor Ken Estes said last night that they will phase in the new policy that offers no forgiveness for leaks that can pull a water bill into the thousands of dollars for homeowners unaware of an issue. “We recognize that this is a change for our water customers. Therefore until January 1, 2014 in order to phase in this change, the city will allow a period of adjustment.
Under a policy adopted by council earlier this month, the city will charge a resident, even if they find an expensive leak.
Councilwoman Pam McElliot placed a review of that policy on the agenda of their next meeting, noting that it was more strict than neighboring cities.

Fire destroys vacant building in downtown Montesano

MONTESANO, Wash. – The Montesano fire department is just setting up fire watch at the scene of a major fire over night that destroyed a building downtown. Fire Chief Corey Rux tells us it was reported just before 9, no injuries since the two business spaces at 217 West Pioneer Avenue were vacant. Rux said an origin and cause of the blaze are undetermined at this time.
The Aberdeen Fire Department added a second ladder truck to suppression efforts overnight that kept the fire from jumping to a collision repair store 2 feet from the rear of the building. Rux didn’t have numbers yet, but said Grays Harbor Fire District #2 added crews as well, and although it was a difficult fire to suppress it was confined to the building of original.
The roof of the building caved in around 1 this morning, and crews are getting some downtime, but Rux said they’d be checking for hotspots throughout the day today.

Montesano rejects bids after learning lowest bidder is “Main Street Phase 2″ contractor

MONTESANO, Wash. – The city of Montesano last night rejected all bids for upgrades to a portion of their water distribution system, after council learned that the lowest bidder was the contractor responsible for the Main Street Phase 2 project. Outgoing councilman Doug Streeter spoke his mind “That was probably the worst project I’ve ever experienced in my entire life, they’re horrible.”
Downtown businesses in Montesano went without sidewalks or a main street for weeks at a time while South Bay Excavating of Olympia worked between the raindrops in August and September. The work completed in October.
Regardless of track record, the state’s competitive bidding process requires that cities award contracts to the lowest and best bidder. After city staff couldn’t find a legal reason to reject their bid, council voted to reject all four bids and go back to the drawing board. The project will make upgrades to the distribution system for residents in the Wilder Hill area. City staff said the vote to go back to the bidding process will delay the project by months. The number two bid was Roglins of Aberdeen, at $214,632 the difference was $135.50.

Montesano, other cities, looking to recoup lost levy dollars

MONTESANO, Wash. – The Montesano city council tonight will discuss a new levy, this one already has your approval. Signed into law this summer, Substitute Senate Bill 5705 allows a taxing district the authority to recover portions of their levy that were reduced over the previous 12 months.
Monty Cobb, Policy Director with the Washington Association of County Officials explained earlier this year “What it boiled down to be is if Monty pays his taxes, and on April second I win my appeal and my taxes get reduced. The treasurer will refund a portion of my taxes, and what a local taxing district would have got from me they can add back on to their levy and be made whole the next year.” Cobb said that due to the wording of the law, if you hadn’t paid those taxes before they were modified, the taxing districts would lose out on the difference.
In Cosmopolis, Finance Director Kathy Welch said three separate levies are worth about $40-thousand more, thanks to a change in the value of Cosmo Specialty Fibers “It used to be that you were just ‘out’ and you couldn’t go back for those taxes.
Welch said countywide there is about $500-thousand that could be recovered, however the decision will be up to each taxing authority.

Grays Harbor and Pacific County Farm Bureau elects 2014 officers

MONTESANO, Wash. – 2014 Officers were elected at the Annual Grays Harbor & Pacific County Farm Bureau Dinner on Friday.
President Terry Willis, VP Al Loughead, Secretary/Treasurer Dan Wood and State Board Owen Schaffner were selected, members also heard from guest speakers State Representative Brian Blake and CEO of the Washington Farm Bureau John Stuhmiller.

Their next regular meeting will be Jan. 27th, with guest speaker Cosmopolis Mayor, and Grays Harbor Commissioner Candidate Vickie Raines.

Car strikes poll, knocks out power to 800 in Montesano

MONTESANO, Wash. – The Grays Harbor PUD worked for about 2 hours to restore power to some Montesano residents Thursday morning, after a car struck a pole just before 7. Montesano Police Chief Brett Vance reports no injuries, the car apparently went off the shoulder and was pulled into the ditch, striking the pole on Beacon Avenue.
Power was restored to approximately 800 customers just in time for school to start at Beacon Elementary.

Town history found on the shelf of garage sale

MONTESANO, Wash. – Snagging Montesano’s history, right off the shelf of a garage sale. Carol Beck of Elma was out garage sailing recently when she spotted, and recognized, a lost piece of the town’s history. She explained to the Montesano city council last night “I’m a teacher, so I’m interested in old books. I started thumbing through them and I realized they were a primary source of the establishment of Montesano. So I asked what he wanted and he said ‘oh, ten bucks?’ and I said ‘how about five?’ cause I’m a garage saler.”
Carol found 11 books written by Montesano’s city engineer from 1910 to 1914, and contacted the city. Mayor Ken Estes responded with a citizen appreciation award, and said the books will be put on display in the new city shop.

Montesano council fails to overturn Mayor’s veto of “Downtown Plan”

MONTESANO, Wash. – The Montesano City Council last night failed to overturn the mayor’s veto of the downtown plan, adopted earlier this month. Mayor Ken Estes vetoed the ordinance adopting the plan last week, citing concerns over the city’s ability to enforce it.
Councilman Chris Hutchings said before the 4-3 vote “I think it’s a great document [but] we do have a comprehensive plan that was passed in 2008, it says it needs to be updated every five years.” Hutchings said the downtown plan should still be used as a vision, and suggested an update to the city’s comprehensive plan instead of new code.

Grays Harbor County Emergency Notification System tested well

MONTESANO, Wash. – The results of yesterday’s test of the Grays Harbor County Emergency Notification System were released this morning, Chuck Wallace with the emergency management agency tells us it made 6000 phone calls in under 30 minutes. It also confirmed email and text messages in under 5 minutes yesterday as the test was accomplished extremely fast with very little issues slowing the process. The problem contacts are being isolated and we will work to correct them.

The Grays Harbor County Emergency Notification System uses Teleira Resilient Communications (previously known as Telecom Recovery). They have been outstanding to work with and many of the county police and fire departments use our system for call outs during emergency incidents in their specific jurisdictions.

To put things in perspective, in 2009, the notification system for the county sent 1000 messages and it took over 5 hours to complete. The old system was not designed to be used for tsunami notification (This warning came from the company). The cost was in the tens of thousands of dollars per year.

Grays Harbor County to test notification system Tuesday, October 22

MONTESANO, Wash. – Grays Harbor County Emergency Management will be testing the County Wide Disaster Notification System on Tuesday, October 22nd at 10:30am. The notifications will go out to all who have voluntarily signed up for the notifications. To date over 6,500 Grays Harbor County Citizens have been added to our system. All who are currently in the system as of October 15th should receive a phone call, e-mail and text message if your phone has those capabilities. The associated phone number with the phone call will be (360) 249-3911. Newer additions will be added following the system test.

If you believe you are in the system and do not receive a call, text or e-mail, it could be as a result of many issues such as new phone number or e-mail address. If you did not receive all of the notifications you believe you should have, please fill out the form using the link below and we will update your information. If you are NOT currently part of the notification system, and would like to be added, please feel free to click the link below and fill in the information.

Montesano Mayor repeals ordinance adopting “Downtown Plan”

MONTESANO, Wash. – Citing concerns over the city’s ability to enforce it, Montesano Mayor Ken Estes has vetoed the “Downtown Plan” adopted by city council earlier this month. In a letter to council the mayor said portions of ordinance #1573 were copy written by an outside company, and it’s requirements could create legal challenges.
While many have argued that the city needs some kind of plan, Estes has opposed this plan from the start “You should be able to have your choice of air conditioning units, or whether you want an awning over your door, or whether you want a door every 25 feet.
In his written objection, the mayor requested council review and adopt a codified version, or adopt it as a vision rather than a code.

District Court offers misdemeanor warrant amnesty, while warning future offenders

MONTESANO, Wash. – Grays Harbor County District Court announces a misdemeanor warrant amnesty scheduled for October 31, 2013 and November 1, 2013. During this time, all persons with outstanding District Court misdemeanor arrest warrant can appear voluntarily in District Court, without fear of arrest and without having to pay a warrant recall fee.

This situation has progressed to the point where persons knowledgeable of the situation are ignoring court orders to appear. 

Shortly after the amnesty program, the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Department will begin a program to enforce all outstanding District Court misdemeanor warrants. Persons who do not appear voluntarily during the two day amnesty period will be targeted for arrest. The Sheriff’s Department intends to aggressively serve District Court misdemeanor warrants several times in the following weeks. 
Therefore, the District Court would encourage all persons to take advantage of the amnesty and clear up their outstanding warrants. The court will be open from 8 am to 5 pm on October 31, 2013 and November 1, 2013 – warrant recalls will be done throughout the day.

Union drops two grievances with city of Montesano

MONTESANO, Wash. – Two union grievances filed against the city of Montesano are being dropped, Mayor Ken Estes tells us city staff learned Friday that Teamsters Local 252 will not be going forward with either the discipline or termination hearing of former public works lead Russ Burke. Both parties will split the cost of an arbitrator.

The city suspended, then fired Burke in June over allegations involving missing paint for striping city streets, and Mr Burke’s street striping business.

Savory Faire in Montesano to close its’ doors, with plans to open Catering & Cooking School

MONTESANO, Wash. – Savory Faire Cafe and Wine Shop in Montesano has announced they plan to close their doors at the end of October. Owner Candi Bachtell said in a press release “It is with a heavy heart that I have decided to retire from Savory Faire on October 31st.” Bachtell added that while they’re hoping to sell the current space Main street as a nameless turnkey, “We will no longer have a store front. Josh & I will be continuing the catering and lunch delivery portion of our business.”

Bachtell thanked her supporters “There are no words to express my great love and appreciation to all of you for your support of me and my family these past 29 years. I have met, served, become friends with, and said goodbye to so many wonderful people.”

She added at they are also working on finding a good “turn key” restauranteur for the space just below the library in Montesano. “My heart will be less heavy if I can close the doors to Savory Faire on October 31st knowing that I have found someone who loves this community and will prepare quality food for all of you. Any new owner will operate under a new name and menu. Josh will still be using our menu and recipes for his new venture under Savory Faire Catering & Cooking School.”

Of course this isn’t a final good bye, just a reinvention of how we are going to be using our passion for food! I will always live in and love Grays Harbor, so our culinary paths will cross many, many years to come. – Candi Bachtell

Emergency Management Agency thanks Grays Harbor for survey turnout

MONTESANO, Wash. – The Grays Harbor County Emergency Management Agency reports a turnout better than they expected for a recent online survey asking residents their opinion of the county department. With 1127 responses, the results should be made public around November.

Road work continues in downtown Montesano, expected to complete in October

MONTESANO, Wash. – The construction continues in downtown Montesano, Public Works Director Rocky Howard told the council at this week’s meeting that base rock will be down by the weekend, so downtown Montesano should be a little smoother than last weekend.
“The roads will be open on the weekend. September 12 roads and gutters are done, September 20th blacktop is placed.” Howard added that the Main Street Phase 2 project should be complete in October “First week in October we should be complete and ready for striping and some of the fine details.”