GARDINER — Mail theft, housing and law enforcement were among the concerns presented to the Jefferson County commissioners’ at its largest public outreach meeting yet, which was in Gardiner.
The crowd of about 30 people attended on Wednesday the third of six public outreach meetings that commissioners plan this year.
Residents of Gardiner and Discovery Bay gathered at the Gardiner Community Center to discuss such issues as how to prevent mail theft, a need for more law enforcement presence in Gardiner, the response time from law enforcement in emergencies, a lack of doctors and a housing crisis.
One woman, who was unidentified, said that she had been told that Jefferson Healthcare officials are looking to the county to help the hospital attract physicians. and asked if this was true.
County Administrator Philip Morley fielded the question and said that Jefferson Healthcare is an independent entity, and that a large factor that is makes it hard for them to attract new doctors was lack of child care, which Jefferson Healthcare is working on addressing.
A lot of the concerns raised fell under the umbrella of development, according to David Sullivan, District 2 commissioner.
“It’s really everything we do,” Sullivan said. “You don’t have contracts without courts. You need the auditor to run the elections.
“Everything we do is glue for the other entities to do their jobs. It allows people in the private sector to do their jobs.
“It’s all of our problems, especially in rural areas.”
The law enforcement questions fell to Jefferson County Sheriff Joe Nole, with some assistance from Prosecuting Attorney James Kennedy.
They suggested that to protect from mail theft residents either install game cameras that can help law enforcement catch thieves or get a post office box and don’t send outbound mail through home mail boxes, instead dropping it off at the post office or one of its blue mail boxes.
“When you put something in the mail and put the red flag up it’s like a dinner bell for them,” Nole said.
The lack of police patrols was due to the lower amount of crime in the area, Nole said.
“We patrol where the most crime is happening. So in a way, that’s a compliment.”
District 3 commissioner Greg Brotherton represents this district and shared some of the concerns the people had, but also explained some of the issues come from living in a rural area.
“We’re on our own a little bit out here,” Brotherton said. “It’s why I live here, I want a little elbow room, but that comes at a cost.
“It comes with 15-minute sheriff response times and 10-minute fire response times, but it also comes with elbow room.”
The lack of available housing was discussed, in regard to both housing for full-time workers and the homeless community.
County staff members said that that there is still land able to be built upon, but one of the largest hurdles is that the majority of the area relies on septic systems, which has a minimum land area requirement and is heavily regulated by the state, Sullivan said.
The first two public outreach meetings this year were in Port Ludlow and Chimacum. The next will be Sept. 5 at 6 p.m. at the Quilcene Community Center at 294952 U.S. Highway 101.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5 or at [email protected].