Board member avoiding YarrowBay talks

Enumclaw School District board member Tim Nickson has recused himself from all discussion and action related to the Enumclaw School District and city of Black Diamond negotiations regarding YarrowBay’s master planned development. The move came because Nickson’s wife is part of a group challenging the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Lawson Hills and Villages projects.

Due to Nickson’s late arrival at a recent meeting of the school board, his letter was entered into the record after the board reconvened following an executive session on an unrelated matter. Nickson said he had every intention of arriving on time for the meeting, but missed a flight connection in the Midwest.

Nickson represents the Black Diamond area. He was appointed to the board in September to fill Gerd Weyer’s unexpired term after he resigned. The term expires in 2011.

Nickson’s letter was addressed to Board President Nancy Merrill and was also sent to Superintendent Mike Nelson, individual board members, Black Diamond Mayor Rebecca Olness and Brian Ross of YarrowBay.

“This letter provides notice that I am recusing myself from all discussions and actions related to the proposed Comprehensive School Mitigation Agreement between the Enumclaw School District and BD Lawson Partners, LP, and BD Village Partners, LP. This decision is prompted by the fact that my wife, Melanie Gauthier, has filed an individual appeal under the State Environmental Protection Act challenging the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Lawson Hills project and is also participating in an appeal jointly filed by several parties challenging the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Lawson Hills project and the Villages project,” Nickson wrote.

“I have had no involvement in the activities related to the above-referenced appeal matters,” his letter continued. “Further, my wife’s activities would not (and have not to date) prejudice my ability to independently review the School Mitigation Agreement and act in the best interest of our district. However, I have concluded that it would be in the best interest of the District if I recuse myself from any further consideration of the School Mitigation Agreement. As such, I will not participate in any Board discussions regarding the School Mitigation Agreement nor will I vote on any matters pertaining to the Agreement. In addition, I request that I not receive any Board communications regarding this matter.”

Nickson said Gauthier, who works in contracts management for The Boeing Co., was asked to become involved by a cousin who is also part of the group.

Nelson said it is not unusual for board members to recuse themselves if there appears to be a conflict of interest.

“The district has put a lot of time and effort into its relationship with the developer and I want to put everyone at ease,” Nickson said. “The best thing to do is to recuse myself.”

In November the district hosted a series of public hearings regarding an agreement between itself, the city of Black Diamond and YarrowBay that would set up impact fees and provide land for future school sites within the development. That agreement has yet to be approved by all parties.

The final environmental impact statement appeal public hearing begins at 2 p.m. Saturday at Black Diamond Elementary School and continues Monday at 8:30 p.m. in Black Diamond City Council chambers. The public hearing for the Master Planned Development begins March 10 and will not include public testimony. Public testimony will be heard March 11 and 12.

In other business, the board:

• honored Suzanne Lewis and Tina McGann with bare root roses for their work on the levy committee.

• acknowledged Classified Staff Appreciation Week, which is March 8-12. Going hand-in-hand with the announcement, Superintendent Mike Nelson acknowledged the custodial staff for the group effort and quick cleanup of J.J. Smith Elementary School after a recent bout of break-ins and vandalism.

• heard from Joanne Seng, Puget Sound Educational Service Director board representative, who invited the board to participate in a collaboration forum.

• accepted donations of $1,000 from Maria Altmann to support arts at Southwood Elementary School; $700 from Enumclaw Self Storage as the Enumclaw High School band’s Christmas parade place winnings; and $1,390 from Measured Progress to Enumclaw Middle School for its student participation in an eighth-grade writing research project.

• was informed 100 Enumclaw High students earned perfect 4.0 grade-point averages for the first semester.

• accepted the retirement of Kibler Elementary School teacher Julia Level, Westwood Elementary School’s JoAnn Dunn, Enumclaw Middle School teacher Alda McNeeley, Enumclaw High School teacher Rick Hofstrand, Westwood Elementary School teacher Sherrie Slatton and Black Diamond Elementary teacher Linda Reiter.

• accepted resignations from Westwood Elementary School paraeducator Tracy Wilkening and bus driver Rachel Kirk.

• hired paraeducators Joan Kulesza and Margaret Laush.

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