By Mellow DeTray
Here’s our recap of the Kent City Council meeting held on Tuesday night, Feb. 6, 2024.
Free Recycling Event On Saturday, Mar. 2
Each year Kent offers residents several free community events to help recycle items that are not easy to properly dispose of. The list includes things like appliances, styrofoam, scrap metal, batteries, textiles, and tires. The full details of the event are available here. The March 2nd recycling event runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Hogan Park.
Employee Of The Month
Jan Hiatt was honored as February Employee of the Month. She was originally hired in 2015 as an administrative assistant in the HR department, and advanced to Training Development Coordinator, then Risk Analyst, and finally to her current position as Senior Risk Analyst for HR. Her focus is accident prevention and workplace safety. She was chosen by staff for this honor because she is so energetic and the epitome of a hard worker. She is also wonderfully responsive to the needs of injured workers.
Proclamation Honors Black History Month
Black History Month began with a recognition that contributions of Black Americans were underrepresented in history texts. Carter Woodson, distinguished Black author and historian, started what was then called “Negro History Week” in 1926. By the 1960’s college campuses were celebrating Black History Month, and in 1976 the month was officially proclaimed by President Gerald Ford.
Kent embraces the diversity of its residents, acknowledges the contributions of African Americans, and celebrates justice and equality for all people. Black History Month provides a special opportunity to learn about and celebrate the achievements of Black Americans, and to honor Black leaders throughout history. The proclamation was accepted by Gwen Allen-Carston, Executive Director of Kent Black Action Commission.
Kent’s Conservation Coordinator, Tony Donati, presented on this year’s Adopt-A-Street program. He said 2023 was a record year for participation in the program, with 1,191 volunteers picking up 1,199 bags of trash in 1,905 hours. For comparison, in 2017 there were only 151 volunteers who picked up 110 bags of trash in 283 hours. Donati said not only are volunteers helping to keep the city free of litter, they are protecting streams and wildlife habitat.
Donati is very pleased with the program’s popularity and success. Check out the city’s webpage for information on how to participate in the Adopt-A-Street program, or contact Donati directly at t[email protected]. The city provides essential gear like gloves, bags, litter grabbers, and safety vests. Mayor Dana Ralph said her kids have picked up so much garbage that she is sure they will never litter in their lives.
New Council President Chosen
When it came time to select a new Council President, incumbent Council President Bill Boyce nominated Councilmember Satwinder Kaur. Kaur was then unanimously elected to serve two years as Council President. Mayor Dana Ralph and Councilmember Boyce exchanged heartfelt compliments for their years of working closely together, and everyone thanked Boyce for his four years serving as Council President. Boyce said that Mayor Ralph was the “best mayor, period”.
In addition, the four recently-elected councilmembers were officially sworn in for four years of service. Three of them, Marli Larimer, Zandria Michaud, and Bill Boyce, are returning members of Council. John Boyd is new to the Council, replacing former Councilmember Les Thomas.
Public Safety Funding Bill Died In House
Mayor Dana Ralph gave a brief update on the recent state legislative session. She was hoping for a more positive outcome on a bill that would have allowed local municipalities to collect a portion of sales tax to use towards public safety staffing and programs. She reported with some frustration that the bill was not successful. She did say that if legislators hear from people in enough cities, they may reconsider it. More info on that bill can be found here.
New Building Codes For Structures Near Wildland
Washington State has instituted new “Wildland Urban Interface” building codes in order to reduce the impact of increasingly frequent wildfires. These codes require structures located adjacent to forested land to have additional wildfire protection. According to the presentation, these code changes may affect only about 800 parcels in Kent. They are not retroactive, but they could mean higher costs for any new construction on those parcels, including things like replacing a deck or building a shed.
Road Improvements Approved
Council approved three new bids for improvements of Kent roads. The projects involve lane width corrections, chip sealing to prolong the life of older pavement, and raising 76th Ave S so that it will no longer be flooded by Mill Creek. This last project also involves changes that will allow the water to flow more freely and improve the creek habitat. Councilmember Brenda Fincher mentioned what a great job the city’s grant writers have been doing, as the cost of much of these projects are covered by state and federal grants.
For current traffic advisories during these road projects, check out the city’s webpage here. There, you can also sign up for email updates on road closures or detours.