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McCleary police layoffs go into effect on Jan. 31

McCLEARY — A McCleary police officer will be laid off on Jan. 31 and the city’s police clerk will also lose her position.

McCleary Mayor Gary Dent issued 30-day layoff notices at the start of the year in accordance with the city’s union contracts, citing a lack of available funds in the city’s operating budget.

Dent says he’s confident in Police Chief George Crumb’s ability to protect the city. The city will now have just two officers plus the police chief. Not enough, the chief says, for 24-hour, seven-day-a-week coverage in the city. Plus, it means what officers are on duty will spend much more time processing paperwork without a police clerk.

The clerk will still have part of her job. The city still has a half-time court clerk position she was hired to do.

But that position may be eliminated, too, depending on how potential court consolidation talks go with the city of Elma.

Dent said he’d like to move forward on those plans sometime this year. If Montesano is involved, he noted, it may take even longer.

Meantime, Dent says the city’s public works director position is still technically open. Former Public Works Director Nick Bird resigned his post at the end of December rather than deal with the mayor’s potential reorganization plans that likely would have cost him his job. He worked out a separation agreement with the city.

Dent says he hasn’t posted the public works director post, tapping Public Facilities head Todd Baun to the interim post.

“I have ideas for the position, but I’m not ready to talk about them yet,” Dent said.

The McCleary City Council tabled on Jan. 22 some potential new development standards that its contracted engineer had proposed to work on. Councilman Brent Schiller noted that it didn’t make sense to move forward on any kind of standards without a public works director to provide input.

Bird attended the council meeting last week in order to thank the council and public for their support over the years.

“It’s been two months since I’ve been here,” Bird said. “I wanted to pop in with the sole intention of saying, ‘thank you.’ I had the opportunity to work with almost everybody in the room and, truly, there’s been lots of ups and lots of downs. When you look at a job the council has to do, you’re doing a thankless job. But it’s absolutely fantastic what you guys are doing. I also want to thank the business community, as well, … an integral part of the community; and the citizens that I have had the opportunity to work with. The citizens truly are our foundation. I’ve had a variety of good situations and difficult situations, but in every single one of those, I’ve had the opportunity to see what type of character this community has and it’s truly is a great character.”

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