Bill Kombol honored with county MLK Medal of Distinguished Service

The former coal manager was awarded for his work preserving community history.

King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn has awarded Black Diamond resident Bill Kombol with the Martin Luther King Medal of Distinguished Service.

The council honored Kombol, the former manager of Palmer Coking Coal Co. (PCCC) on Tuesday, June 13. The award, granted yearly by county councilmembers to a person in their district, recognizes those whose work answers Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s question: “What are you doing for others?”

Kombol’s answer to that question, Dunn said, is his work preserving the history of southeast King County, and the many communities past and present around the Black Diamond and Enumclaw areas.

“Without him, many stories from the Enumclaw and Black Diamond communities would have been forgotten and lost forever,” Dunn said in a prepared statement.

Bills family has long-reaching roots in the region and in the mining industry.

Kombol’s mother, Pauline Kombol, was herself a managing partner of PCCC, born into a family at the forefront of the coal mining business when Black Diamond boomed. Pauline also served on the Enumclaw School Board.

Bill Kombol joined the family business in 1968 at the age of 15. He became manager in 1982 and retired last year.

It’s his work studying, documenting and protecting community history that earned the award, though, Dunn said. That includes donating many hours of his time to the Black Diamond and Enumclaw Plateau Historical Societies and various King County commissions and committees.

Through his column “When Coal Was King,” published in the Black Diamond-area newspaper Voice of The Valley, as well as other outlets, Kombol has written at length about the region and compiled much of its history and important people and events.

Bill and his wife, Jennifer live in Black Diamond and have three sons – Oliver, Spencer, and Henry.

PCCC, which produces and sells sand, gravel, topsoil and other materials, is currently seeking to expand its mining operation outside Black Diamond. It has applied to re-zone a 240 acre parcel located off Enumclaw-Franklin Road SE from a rural residential area to a mining zone. PCCC already owns the property, which is current a sand and gravel mine, but it cannot actually use the mine yet due to the zoning designation.