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Organization largely responsible for K-9 program disbands

The nonprofit organization Sequim Town Partners began with the idea of creating a national Main Street program, but after eight years the group has decided to call it quits.

According to Mike Alton, a core member and founder of Town Partners, a certified Main Street program is a lot like a chamber of commerce or a business improvement district, except a chamber deals with business in a city as a whole and Main Street programs and business improvement districts deal with specific core areas.

“Once you get the businesses in there, then it’s the Main Street program’s responsibility to keep those businesses alive and well, offer training to them, whatever they can do to bring the downtown businesses together and make them successful,” Alton said. “But part of the Main Street program is that the city must pay half of the expenses, and that’s just part of the national system. You also have to have an executive director.”

A group of business owners set up Sequim Town Partners, but consistent city funding and the executive director never came about. According to Alton, the organization received $15,000 over a two-year period from the city.

Rather than strengthening Sequim’s main corridor, the organization became a means for business owners to give back to the city. The Town Partners took part in the city’s comprehensive planning process and the revitalization projects to the downtown, such as paving and new sidewalks.

“We had a booth over at the Open Aire Market over the years and we’d have conceptual drawings of what the finished product would look like, and we also had people like the mayor (former Mayor Walt Schubert), Don Hall, and John Beitzel come in and sit in the booth with us for a couple hours and they would meet with the public. That was about the extent of our involvement,” Alton said.

What Sequim Town Partners is perhaps best known for, though, is its support of the Sequim Police Department’s K-9 unit.

“Things just became stagnant, but then I was at a Rotary meeting one day and Officer Campbell and his canine Huey came by. I was impressed and I said, ‘You know, we’ve got to do something about this,’” Alton said.

Rather than promoting

Sequim’s downtown, Town Partners switched gears and started to promote Sequim’s K-9 unit instead. They raised close to $12,000, which paid for vet costs, food and operational costs.

“We’d have tourists come through the Open Aire Market, and then a week later we’d have a check from California, Oregon or wherever,” Alton recalled. “We decided that since we didn’t have the support of the city and the local businesses didn’t seem to want to do anything, we’d just wind it up and give the balance to the Police Department.”

On Jan. 28 Alton plans to present the Police Department with a check for, Alton estimates, more than $5,000.

It goes without saying that the disbanding of Sequim Town Partners is a definite financial blow for the department.

“The Sequim Town Partners have been one of those unsung heroes; they have contributed thousands of dollars in donations — literally keeping our K-9 program humming along for nearly a decade,” Police Chief Robert Spinks said, adding, “We recognize that the Town Partners have worked without a lot of fanfare, behind the scenes year after year supporting the K-9 operation, so we are going to miss their commitment as a longstanding community organization.”

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