PORT TOWNSEND — After 18 years of helping to guide the Jefferson County Public Utility District from his District 3 commissioner’s seat, Wayne King has attended his last regular board meeting.
Tuesday’s meeting was his last as a commissioner after deciding not run for re-election.
Commissioners, staff and colleagues honored him with a plaque, plaudits and a resolution in appreciation of his leadership and years of dedicated service to the district.
King played an important role during the negotiations with Puget Sound Energy (PSE) for the acquisition of electric assets in the county and the successful transition from private to a public electric service with comparable rates.
Public Utility District management consultant Don McDaniel related a story about the experience of negotiating with PSE.
“I was on the transition team and when we did our first meeting with about 25 people in the room from Puget, half of them were lawyers,” McDaniel said. “They didn’t have teeth, they had fangs.
“It only took about 20 minutes and we had them crying in their coffee. You did a good job, and we got through a heck of a lot. It was a two-year run to get all that done. We are one of the few utilities that have been successful for many years across the country.”
King was instrumental in numerous water utility accomplishments for the Gardiner, tri-area, Coyle and Mats View water systems.
He was involved in extending public water to Marrowstone Island and consolidating several water systems into the Quimper Water System, creating the largest groundwater-sourced system in east Jefferson County.
He also was instrumental in authorizing the construction of the Beckett Point septic system, in the acquisition of Peterson Lake to protect the upper watershed of Chimacum Creek and the development of an open-access fiber-optic network.
He was a leading proponent for the creation of the Citizen Advisory Board to hear viewpoints and recommendations from a volunteer committee.
Fittingly, three new members were selected to the nine-member Citizen Advisory Board on Tuesday night to fill vacancies: Sebastian Eggert, District 1; Gary Rowe, District 2 and Dan Taylor, District 3. King, Jeff Randal and Kenneth Collins selected a representative from their districts to serve 3-year terms.
Bill Graham, resource manager and the longest-tenured employee with 20 years of service, presented King with the plaque commemorating his accomplishments.
“It has been an honor and a privilege,” Graham said. “You and I go way back.
“There are some things about you that people don’t know. You are a Hall of Fame race car driver, inducted into Bakersfield. You’re known as the Peregrine, the fastest bird.
“You were a citizen activist. You came to PUD meetings, then you actually ran for office and won, and became accountable to the public.”
King said he went to meetings for 10 years before he ran for office.
“Instead of being a critic, you beat an incumbent,” Graham said. “How’s that two-meetings-a-month thing going for you?
“You started a PUD from scratch,” he said.
In accepting the honor, King said he was “proud that I instigated soft-start water pumps and variable displacement water pumps in our water system that saves us a tremendous amount of money. Because of my hydraulic pump background, I understand.”
King said deciding not to run again was difficult.
“But it’s time for me to move on,” he said.” I’m proud of what I did and what we did. I know I get emotional about the PUD. I’m damn proud to be a PUD commissioner. I’m damn proud of the PUD in Jefferson County.
“And heavy on the ‘dams,’ ” he quipped. “We have people who want to take the dams out.”
He said it’s “the water that got us here,” and was proud of the fact that “we have $18 million cash in the bank.”
Randall, commission chair, said he’s seen King weigh in on the issues with passion.
“The level of intensity and care he brings to PUD issues is reflective of how hard it was to build this thing,” Randall said. “You can lose it by making mistakes really easily. That’s what I sense — a recognition of how hard it was to get here.”
Dan Toepper, who won the District 3 election and will take King’s seat on the dais Jan. 2, accepted a gift from King.
“I have a copy of the Constitution. My mother gave me this when I was elected. She said read it and use it. I’m going to give this to Dan Toepper and I hope you read it and use it.
“It’s the best there is,” King said.
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected].