In recent weeks, this newspaper has continued to receive criticisms regarding our coverage of the Winlock City Council, in particular events surrounding a project to replace water lines on First St. and the loss of a related $76,500 repaving grant.
We feel it would not be becoming of a legitimate publication to continue to dismiss the arguments leveled against us, nor to maintain that we have been thorough and objective in our reporting. We have instead placed our readers in a position where they were misinformed and the facts misrepresented as we chose to ignore the role Mayor Glen Cook has played in the failures of the project.
Were we to be forthright about the issues at hand, we would have stated Cook deliberately halted the First St. project at certain points during the last two years, including having given a directive to Public Works Superintendent Gregg Robinson this time last year to cease all work on the project for reasons Cook did not disclose during public forums. And in January and February, as the project laid unfinished after receiving assistance from Lewis County Public Works employee Fred Terry while Robinson was on medical leave, Cook stated during public meetings he was not willing to have city employees complete the project and was exploring alternatives, including the possibility of having Terry return to finish the work, which did not occur.
As Winlock’s eligibility for the grant was dependent on timely acceptance of the funding, and as members of the Winlock City Council repeatedly refused to accept the funding because the project was not done, it should have been communicated that Cook had been responsible for creating an environment in which the project and the grant were not bound to succeed.
Our newspaper was lax in covering this side of the story as we endeavored to encourage Cook to become a better mayor and help Winlock become a better city. But encouraging turned into coddling, which turned into outright untruths as this reporter lost his objectivity. As such, I will no longer be covering the Winlock City Council as I have been unable to do so without bias. Town Crier reporter Marlea Hanson will be fulfilling that role so our readers may stay abreast of what their city leaders are up to.
We apologize for having unfairly placed blame on Council Members Denise Green and Dennis Kopri as though they were simply being stubborn and uncooperative. They have always expressed clear motives in their opposition to the way the project is being conducted and have been able to cite specific opinions and guidelines to support their positions.
Again, we acknowledge our readers have been misled and we regret not having been diligent in correcting our errors. It is our goal to be a publication of integrity and merit, and we intend to do so now and in the future.