Court date reset for Port of Manchester commissioner

Port of Manchester Commissioner James R. Strode was scheduled to appeal in Kitsap County District Court on March 11, but the court date was rescheduled, according to the Prosecutor’s Office on March 6.

Strode is set to appear in court on April 8.

The 62-year-old Strode, who has been commissioner since 1986 and current board president, allegedly performed work on a hydraulic project without approval under state law. An investigation by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife had led to the Prosecutor’s Office to file criminal charge against Strode for his involvement of unlawful hydraulic project activity (HPA) at the Port of Manchester.

According to court documents, WDFW Police Officer Jason Czebotar investigated the incident after receiving a complaint from Manchester resident David Kimble, who sent an email and photographs to WDFW officials. In his email, Kimble alleges the Port of Manchester lifted a log off the beach and repositioned it along the shoreline, then chained it to existing logs. Kimble stated Strode was present while the logs were moved.

Documents stated the email also included photographs of a backhoe lifting and placing logs along the shore and one photograph showed two individuals chaining a log in place on the beach.

In the report, Czebotar said he went to the Port’s boat launch and took photographs of the bank armament and observed a log chained down.

Kimble, who has four unsuccessful bids as Port commissioner, ran against Strode in 1997 and 2011.

He said he contacted Strode on Dec. 18, 2012, by phone and reported Strode became “very agitated” with the conversation in reference to HPA violation at the Port.

Czebotar reported Strode told him the Port did take a log out of the water and placed it on the beach. He also reported Strode became argumentative during the telephone conversation and once the call became unproductive, the officer ended the call.

Because water is state property, WDFW is responsible with protecting fish habitat and issues permits for HPA. Construction projects that effect bed or flow of water require HPA permits. Purpose of the HPA permits are to set requirements and time frames to limit or mitigate impact on fish and their habitat.

WDFW reported it received a complaint on Dec. 15, 2011, from a resident who observed two men doing work between two floats at Pomeroy Park. Investigators visited the site and discovered logs and other wood material had been staked and anchored to the shoreline, and appeared the work was done recently. WDFW reported no HPA permits were issued for the work.

WDFW sent a letter to the Port in February 2013, stating they would work with the Port to get approval for maintenance. Since the letter was sent, the Port has not successfully obtained an HPA permit for work at the location, according to WDFW officials.

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