To the Editor:
In the words of a recent and very memorable mayor, the good citizens of Raymond need to “get a grip” about the apparent shutdown of JK Forest Products (JKFP). It is abundantly clear, and will become even more so as time goes by, that this closure resulted much more from mismanagement practices and current market conditions relating to log supply/wood chip demand than any citizen complaints about excessive operation noise.
Recent inquiries to the Washington Department of Ecology revealed no significant non-compliance issues regarding shoreline and stormwater management at the JKFP site, and no fines have been, or are at this point expected to be, issued by either Ecology or EPA. So this closure cannot be “blamed” on the over zealousness of environmental regulatory agencies, as is usually offered up in situations such as this.
The excessive noise issue from the JKFP operations was very real, contrary to what many letter writers have implied; and it was ridiculous for folks not living in the immediate vicinity to offer up opinions, especially that the affected homeowners should just move away. I don’t care how many times it is said, “There has always been a mill there.” There has never ever been a log-chipper the size and power of the one, which had operated there (or any where previously in the Raymond vicinity) since this past summer.
A few years back a number of Raymond residents complained vociferously about odors emanating from the fish fertilizer plant at the port dock, including a former city council member who called me at my job in Olympia wanting to know how to “shut these guys down”, as the smell was making it almost impossible for them to enjoy living in their own homes and was ruining their property values. No one called them “wusses” or told them if they didn’t like it, just move!
Likewise, more recently there were excessive odor problems from a trial fish waste composting operation out in the Willapa area, resulting in dozens of affected residents demanding that the county commissioners “shut those guys down”, as it was no longer possible for them to enjoy living in their homes due to the horrible smells, with property values also likely plummeting. No one called them “wusses” or told them if they didn’t like it, just move!
As for Greg Patillo’s “two-bits worth”, I wouldn’t give him two cents! His last paragraph tells the whole story. He has a vested financial interest in having JKFP stay here and operating. He got his story mixed up a bit though; It is folks like him who rode into town decades ago, buying up huge tracts of land on the cheap, re-planting and letting Mother Nature do the work for him, and now he wants to reap the profits. I don’t necessarily begrudge him for that. But it seems he has been busy ever since he got here writing letters telling us “poor ignorant rubes” how to vote on every political and private property rights issue that comes down the pike; insinuating that he knows more than we do.
Seems to me, though, he has almost always been on the losing end of things nearly every election. Two different times in recent years Washington voters rejected radical private property rights initiatives that Greg supported, upholding by huge majorities the prevailing legal precept that sure, you can do whatever you want on your own property, as long as it doesn’t violate established zoning/environmental regulations and doesn’t deprive surrounding residents their RIGHT and ABILITY to enjoy their own properties as they see fit. Apparently the “rubes” around Raymond/Pacific County are smarter than he thinks? Maybe it’s time to wise up your Wise Use ideas, Greg?
I fully agree with Mike Whitney that the opportunity presented to our community (JKFP) was “misplaced, mishandled, and now misunderstood,” with no small help from our own city council and some of their staff, along with uninformed citizens offering up nonsense solutions. There have been many lessons coming out of all of this. I have a lot of sympathy for those who lost their jobs, as I went through a 23-month period of unemployment myself when I first moved back to Raymond with my family in the early 1980’s and didn’t qualify for any benefits at that time.
The only testimony to the future of Raymond as we know it lies in how we can – and I mean all of us – learn from the events of these past few years. We need to be honest and civil about the real causes of a shutdown/job loss such as this, and not belittle and slander Raymond residents who are fully justified in seeking redress to blatant violations of their own private property rights. Lastly, we need to move forward in a constructive and progressive manner in fulfilling our needs for sustainable employment opportunities without sacrificing community values for safe and healthy living and learning environments.
Michael J. Spencer