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Town Crier responds to Green’s criticisms

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During the May 29 Winlock City Council meeting, Council Member Denise Green openly criticized this newspaper for printing what she said were inaccurate quotes, stating she has been unfairly depicted as an individual opposed to the completion of the First St. pipe replacement project.

She specifically refuted statements printed May 22 that she had been contradicted by the Lewis County Department of Health regarding health code violations and City Attorney Mark Scheibmeir regarding the violation of property owner’s rights. Town Crier acknowledges we should have provided greater clarity as far as which of Green’s statements had been refuted and in what capacity, and would like to do so now:

During the Dec. 17 council meeting, Green said she had contacted the State Department of Health earlier that day to report a health code violation after having observed three water meters hooked up to a single line at 803 SE First St. She said city officials, specifically Cook, should expected to be contacted as a result of the report, adding the Department of Health was “not happy” with Winlock based on Green’s accounting of the project.

“You do not mess around with the Health Department,” she told the council.

After the meeting, Green clarified the State Department of Health had advised her to contact the Lewis County Department of Health after her initial report. On Dec. 19, Cook stated the county had followed up with Winlock and found no evidence of a violation after Cook told them the water meters were not all installed on the same line and that his employees were following guidelines in accordance with their state certifications. There has been no further follow-up reported as a result of Green’s report to the state.

And throughout the last several months, Green has voiced her concern regarding the protection of property owner’s rights, stating it is her understanding the city expects to install pipes through private property in order to hook up houses to water meters that have not been installed on corresponding properties.

“You want to still have two water lines going across another property that had not had that happen before,” Green said to Cook during the April 8 meeting, referring again to the water meters grouped at 803 SE First St., which she said were expected to service houses on SE Front St.

Cook directly refuted these claims, stating the city intends only to use legal rights-of-way to complete the project, but Green replied she does not see how the city could choose a different course of action given the current placement of meters.

During the April 22 council meeting, Scheibmeir confirmed Cook’s statements, sating the current and anticipated placement of meters and water lines are within public rights-of-way, which were estimated to extent about one foot beyond the sidewalk along SE First St. He added it may be a violation of property owner’s sensibilities to dig through portions of their front yard for the project, but it would not be a violation of their rights as long as the city works within rights-of-way.

Green said Town Crier had, “pretty much, blamed [her] for stalling the project,” and portrayed her as someone ignorant of the issues at hand. But we at Town Crier believe the points we cited, as well as their rebuttals, are important to the history of recent events as Green has emphasized these concerns as playing a significant role in her approach to policy. We in no way intended to vilify or single her out but, instead, to portray what has been taking place in the council meetings. If we impressed our readers otherwise, we apologize.

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