PRIEST RIVER — Priest River got its newest city council members here Jan. 2 when Candy Turner and Gary Stewart were sworn in to take their seats at the city’s legislative body. Stewart had served for nearly one year as the appointed substitute for former council member Jeff Connolly, but this was the first time that he was sworn in for a full term. Last fall’s municipal elections saw little voter turnout and even fewer candidates. In response to the lack of a candidate to fill outgoing city council member Peggy George’s seat, Turner offered herself as a write-in candidate and won office with 26 votes.
Mayor Jim Martin was also sworn in to begin another term as the city’s executive officer. Council member Doug Wagner was reelected by council members at the meeting to serve as council president.
Police chief Drew McLain reported that preliminary numbers indicate a slower than normal year for Priest River law enforcement in 2017. McLain attributed the lower numbers in part to the lack of one officer for four months last summer when things were busiest. Official state numbers will come out later this year, but in-house statistics revealed that Priest River cops conducted 738 traffic stops, issued 100 misdemeanor citations, 244 infraction citations, and responded to more than 1300 calls for service.
Martin said employee compensation reviews are underway for the first time in a while. City policy on records retention may change, but that proposal is waiting on additional information, said Martin. Enforcement of the city’s recreational vehicle ordinance, Mountain Waterworks funding, and an engineering services agreement will be addressed at a council workshop scheduled for Jan. 22 at 6 p.m., he added. The city will soon execute a land swap with the county on property at the airport. City attorney Katie Elsaesser said the two parties would quit claim to each other, and Martin explained that the land swap would result be “pretty much a wash on who gets what.”
City clerk Laurel Thomas said tentatively scheduled topics for the Jan. 22 workshop include “an overview of all current and upcoming projects, code enforcement concerns, and an explanation of the budgeting process and revenue sources.”