During the Winlock City Council meetings, it can be difficult to distinguish a legitimate gripe from an attempt to make Mayor Glen Cook look incompetent.
Some issues dealing with city management are brought up because funding is being spent unwisely, decisions are being delayed and those who must act are not being informed of plans of action. Other times, wasted funding, delayed decisions and inadequate communication are brought up to convey shortcomings in city management, whether or not they actually exist.
Though the latter has been the favorite of Cook’s detractors, Winlock’s political squabbles have recently reached beyond the bounds of City Hall as a Lewis County employee has been caught in the crossfire.
Fred Terry, of the Lewis County Public Works Department, stepped up to help replace water lines on First St. in recent months while Winlock Public Works Superintendent Gregg Robinson was on medical leave. Terry had coordinated the project with Robinson, Cook and Sewer/Water Superintendent Dennis Baker before starting work and followed guidelines in keeping with his certification as Level I in water treatment and Level II in water distribution.
But the replacement project became a pawn during city rivalries, with some council members going to great lengths to extrapolate severe problems that, when examined by an unbiased eye such as the Lewis County Department of Health & Social Services, were found not to exist. But statements of dissatisfaction, distrust and disproval were already on the record, and it was reported during Monday’s council meeting that these statements had reached the ears of Terry’s department.
While the replacement project continues and a Transportation Improvement Board grant of around $70,000 hinges on its completion, Terry is not in a position professionally or personally to assist with where he left off, due to the criticisms about his work by city leaders. He was a very timely, friendly and cooperative pinch-hitter Winlock will not be able to find again due to careless acts of political calculation and opportunism.
The Winlock City Council needs to get their house in order because misstatements made by only a small number are reflecting poorly on the entire city. If they do not, more people—local people—are going to be caught in the crossfire and one day Winlock is going to lose a lot more than an ally in the Public Works Department.