(By Jared Arnold/Chewelah Independent)
Chewelah native Evan Schalock was selected by the Chewelah City Council to fill the vacant position #6 last Wednesday evening, September 6.
He was selected from four applicants after a short round of open interviews by the council. The other applicants included local business owners Luke McGuire and Patrick Sawyer and retired financial consultant Mike Bentz. Winston Griepp and Mary Ludwig had submitted letters of interest last month but did not participate in the interviews.
In voting by the council, Schalock received three votes from councilpersons Sharon Ludwig, Dee Henderson and Payton Norvell. McGuire also got three votes from councilpersons John May, Carra Nupp and John Wight. According to council rules, the tie-breaking vote is cast by the mayor. Mayor Dorothy Knauss selected Schalock.
City attorney Mike Waters administered the oath of office and Schalock took his seat at the council table.
Schalock was raised in Chewelah and returned here a little over one year ago after working in the financial services industry in Spokane, Portland, and Denver, Colorado. He graduated from Eastern Washington University with a degree in finance and economics and earned a masters degree from Gonzaga University. He is now a real estate broker with Windermere Chewelah and a financial planner with HD Vest. He also serves as vice president of the Chewelah Chamber of Commerce. Schalock is married with two sons.
In his interview, Schalock said that one of Chewelah’s biggest issues is a lack of jobs that will attract and keep young workers here.
“There is a fine line between an appropriate dose of keeping Chewelah ‘as it always has been’ and adapting the community to the future. Working together with other council members I believe that together we can achieve that fine line to ensure the success of our home town this year and many years to come,” Schalock said in a letter to the council and Knauss.
Schalock will fill the position that was vacated by Roberta McMillin earlier this summer. The position’s term expires in 2019 and Knauss appointed him to three committees: Public Safety, Lodging Tax, and Parks/Recreation/Cemetery.
Drug enforcement in Chewelah
Rick Taylor from the Washington State Patrol Drug Enforcement Agency gave a update to the council about the drug situation in Chewelah and our region.
Taylor explained that the biggest issues continue to be with methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl. He said that Chewelah Police Chief Mark Burrows has taken a strong stance against drugs and that the local police department has been active and cooperative with WSP.
“[Chewelah officers] have always provided great leads and great opportunities to help the community and also remove some of the drugs from the community,” Taylor said in praising Chewelah police and indicated that thay have helped identify several individuals supplying meth and heroin from Spokane.
“I do not believe Chewelah is what we call a ‘source’ location for drugs but it is definitely a destination, based on use,” he said.
Taylor was asked by councilman May to give his opinion on allowing marijuana sales in Chewelah.
“Unfortunately, I would be biased because I have spent my career trying to remove controlled substances,” Taylor said but referred May and the council to the state’s Liquor and Cannabis Board which regulates legal marijuana distribution. However, when pushed further on the subject by councilwoman Nupp, he did say that he believes marijuana use is a “gateway” leading users to more potent drugs.
Nupp also asked Taylor about heroin ‘safe houses’ and how the council could help eliminate them from Chewelah.
Taylor said that the council could consider a ordinance for nuisance houses. He explained that some communities have nuisance ordinances that deal with houses that routinely have calls for assistance from law enforcement, overdoses, deaths and other issues. After a legal process, the nuisance house would be condemned.
Councilman Schalock asked Taylor to describe measures that are being taken in other towns to combat the drug problem.
Taylor said that Chewelah has taken a “big step” by starting a K-9 drug dog program. He also suggested an increased law enforcement presence and more public education as additional steps that could be taken.
Specialty Crop processing facility
Nils Johnson gave a short presentation to the council on the outcome of a recent Specialty Crop Food Processing Facility feasibility study and invited the council to attend the full-length presentation later this month in Colville. The full presentation is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 19, 6-8 p.m. at the Stevens County Extension office in Colville. Johnson is the Ag and Food Systems Coordinator for WSU Stevens County Extension and the feasibility study was funded by Washington State Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant program. The presentation will focus on the details and feasibility of an entrepreneur-scale facility that could be built in our area to facilitate a local specialty crop value-added processing facility.
In other business, the council unanimously approved Ordinance #915 which amends the city’s floodplain damage prevention rules. The minor changes were recommended by the Department of Ecology after a “Community Assistance” visit to discuss the city’s involvement in the National Flood Insurance Program.
Mayor Knauss appointed Jewel Ziehen to replace Bob Breza on the Civil Service Commission.
In audience comments, resident Bob Egland invited councilmembers to take a tour of the golf course neighborhood in order to see the issues and challenges of that area.
“Are you all aware of what we have [at the golf course]?” Egland asked the council. He went on to describe a surge in building activity in that neighborhood including four new homes last year and six new homes being built this year.
“We do have a viable community up there and we are part of Chewelah and would like to cooperate,” he explained. “I do wish you would become more interested in the golf course.”
“Where is the growth in Chewelah coming from? It’s not down here,” he said implying that the majority of building activity is happening at the golf course, formally known as Chewelah North. “There’s hardly any homes being built in [Chewelah South].”
Neither the council nor staff responded to Egland’s comments directly.
The next regular city council meetings are scheduled for Wednesday, September 20 and Wednesday, October 4, 6:30 p.m. at the City Hall council chambers.