Public works projects highlight Forks State of City address

Police chief cites increase in DUIs, thefts

FORKS — The city of Forks highlighted various developments and initiatives undertaken during the past year in its annual State of the City report in a gathering hosted by the Forks Chamber of Commerce.

Led by Clerk/Treasurer Caryn DePew, the report delved into multiple aspects of city governance, public works projects, law enforcement challenges and community engagement efforts.

One of the notable achievements was the completion of the city’s 2020-2022 Accountability and 2021-2022 Financial audits. Conducted in January, the audit concluded without any findings.

Meanwhile, Police Chief Mike Rowley provided insights into the law enforcement landscape, shedding light on the prevailing challenges and trends. While he reported a decline in burglaries and car prowls, Rowley noted an increase in DUIs and thefts, partly attributed to enhanced surveillance measures implemented by local businesses.

Of particular concern was the rise in fentanyl usage, identified as the drug of choice due to its affordability compared to other narcotics, Rowley said. He emphasized the mounting cases of mental health-related incidents, exacerbated by legislative constraints on law enforcement’s response protocols.

The city’s public works department showcased significant progress in addressing water and wastewater management challenges, Director Paul Hampton said. Noteworthy accomplishments included the repair of numerous water leaks, installation of new water meters for enhanced accuracy, and efforts to reduce water loss rates to the lowest levels in nearly a decade.

Additionally, investments were made toward wastewater treatment plant improvements, with grants and funding secured for critical infrastructure projects. Hampton said more funding is being explored as bids for some projects have come in higher than expected.

The report also highlighted ongoing road maintenance initiatives, park enhancements and infrastructure planning to accommodate future growth and development.

Planner/Attorney Rod Fleck outlined the spectrum of cases handled by District Court II, which predominantly involves gross misdemeanors and misdemeanors.

Those cases span a range of offenses, including DUI, assaults, reckless driving, possession of drug paraphernalia, disorderly conduct and driving while license suspended.

Fleck elaborated on the judicial process whereby individuals convicted in District Court II are subject to specific mandates by Judge Bruce Hanify. Those mandates typically include directives to refrain from committing further crimes, undergo treatment and to avoid contact with victims. Fleck said failure to adhere could result in further legal action, including incarceration.

Fleck also provided updates on significant projects aimed at enhancing the city’s development and livability. He underscored adhering to the state Growth Management Act Comprehensive Plan update and stressed the need for its completion by 2025 to align with regulatory requirements and to facilitate sustainable growth.

Fleck also highlighted progress on the Quillayute Airport master planning, noting the acceptance and approval of drawings, which are slated for presentation and proposed adoption in upcoming spring hearings.

He encouraged individuals seeking land use permits for various purposes — be it buying, building or developing — to engage with city officials for guidance and compliance checks.

Mayor Tim Fletcher underscored the city’s commitment to community well-being and civic pride, outlining initiatives aimed at downtown beautification, public space enhancements and fostering volunteerism. Efforts to address pressing issues such as affordable housing and infrastructure upgrades were acknowledged, with calls for increased collaboration and support from local stakeholders and policymakers.

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