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Lincoln looks ahead to next challenge

POULSBO — Sept. 29, 2005 is a day that Public Works Director Jeff Lincoln will forever remember not for the 550,000 gallons of sewage that leaked into Liberty Bay, but for the actions of those around him.

“The most amazing thing I’ve seen is 9:15 a.m. on the 29th of September,” Lincoln said. “When that sewer spill was identified, the reaction of the people around me was unbelievable.”

The intensity and professionalism of the public works crews and other city employees was as good as anything he’s seen in his professional life, he said.

“They wanted the back up from me. They wanted someone to take the risk against the tide,” he said.

The city’s reaction to the spill was extraordinary in response to an immediate problem, but an indicator of the city’s future success hinges on the municipal campus.

“I absolutely believe the municipal campus is important for the city and I think its success will be an indicator of the success of Poulsbo as it enters this phase of growth in its future,” Lincoln said.

Lincoln said he has already informed the public works staff and architects what he expects even though he is moving on.

“I expect this to be the best city hall in the state and I want a commitment that this thing will be done as close to perfect as it can be done: on time, underbudget and I want it done well,” he added.

Now less than four months later, Lincoln is taking that along with a longboat full of memories as he heads to Steilacoom to be its public works director beginning Feb. 1.

Lincoln bought his first house there in 1973 when he was stationed at Fort Lewis and no matter where his military assignments took him, he always went back to the city.

“An opportunity to go back and serve the community of my neighbors is going to be different,” he said. “Not only will I be the public works director, but I’ll be able to go to the side of the mic and say, ‘I live in Steilacoom and this is what I think.’”

Even though doing so is considered taboo for public officials, Lincoln said he won’t hesitate to get on the other side of the podium.

“I think citizens have a responsibility to participate in their government,” he said. “I think that the more well-educated, well-informed people that do participate, the better your government is.”

Going home as the public works director doesn’t mean the role will remain the same as Steilacoom doesn’t have a solid waste utility and has no commercial base, he said.

“Steilacoom has a 100 percent underground electrical and is a power distributor off the Bonneville grid and it has its own electric utility,” he said.

Unlike Poulsbo, Steilacoom is basically at its boundaries and everything is primarily infill.

“It has an extraordinarily high quality of life,” he said. “Poulsbo has a high quality of life and I would rate Steilacoom even higher.”

Lincoln said his experience in Steilacoom drove him to do what he could to improve Poulsbo.

As he moves on to work with another town’s council, Lincoln said he is impressed with the one he’s leaving behind.

“This city council commits more time and more energy to city issues and they’re passionate and they care about their community,” he said. “They’re committed to their community and the City of Poulsbo is well-served by their city council.”

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