Steve King takes his position as Port Townsend’s new public works director amid a public health crisis. (City of Port Townsend)

Steve King takes his position as Port Townsend’s new public works director amid a public health crisis. (City of Port Townsend)

Port Townsend’s new public works director begins during uncertain time

PORT TOWNSEND — Starting a new job in a new place is a challenge.

Starting a new job in new place amid an international health crisis even more so.

But Steve King, Port Townsend’s new public works director, said he’s up for the new role.

Like everyone else, King has had to change his behavior for his and others’ safety due to the spread of COVID-19.

“I have to hold my hand back,” King said after his first day of work Monday.

“I want to go shake people’s hands and get to meet people and the first day on the job you’d typically be getting orientation, so that looks a little differently right now,” King said.

King “tipped his hat” to the City of Port Townsend with its response to the outbreak and bringing him on board at this difficult juncture, describing it as a “learning as we go,” situation.

“Very excited to be here despite this interesting time, I’m anxious to get going in the community,” King said.

With many people working and learning from home, internet service providers have seen an uptick in use, and customers are seeing slower responses and more connectivity issues, he said.

Many municipalities in Washington state have been looking at creating internet infrastructure to make sure its citizens have access to high-speed internet.

“I understand the City does not provide internet service,” King said.

“I don’t have a good understanding of who and what entities provide the system fiber backbone to the internet in the area. So that’s one area that I will be looking forward to learning about,” King said.

“Where I came from in Wenatchee, the utility districts provided fiber backbones as well as the various internet providers, so very interested to see what’s being considered here.

“But, yeah, I can imagine the systems are being taxed right now.”

King began his career in public works in 1997 after he graduated from Washington State University. He worked first as a consulting engineer doing municipal projects.

From 2002-2009 he worked for the City of Wenatchee, moving up the ranks from assistant city engineer to public works director.

In 2010, his career shifted to community and economic development work.

“For the most part my career has been around public infrastructure and public type projects,” King said.

King is an avid outdoorsman and is keen to go fishing, hiking and biking around the North Olympic Peninsula as well as learn more about Port Townsend maritime culture.

“I love the outdoors. I like biking, hiking, fishing. I grew up fishing in the Point No Point area…I look forward to learning more about the boating industry and the maritime industry,” King said.

While the future looks uncertain right now the city has many projects ahead of it which King is excited to learn more about and get started on, such as the roads, sewer outfall and internet infrastructure.

“For me personally, I love to see public infrastructure be built to better a community and make a community stronger and operate better,” King said.

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Ken Park can be reached at kpark@peninsuladailynews.com.

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