News

Farewell, Mr. Bay

At 7:30 a.m., when most of people are just waking up, Public Works director Jim Bay is in his office answering e-mails, working on presentations and going after grants because even after 20 years spent working for the city of Sequim, Bay still loves his job.

“I’m serious about the work that I do and I’m serious about taking good care of the city,” Bay said.

Bay will be retiring from the Public Works department this week. He informed the city of his plans six months ago, but for the past month, Bay said, it’s been an emotional roller coaster.

“I want to stay, I want to go. I want to help and I don’t want to help,” Bay said, adding he’s retiring to spend more time with his family: his wife, four sons and 11 grandchildren, 10 of whom are boys.

“I’ve got a wonderful wife that puts up with me coming to work at 5:30, 6 o’clock in the morning and staying late,” Bay said. She even rides alongside him when he goes out on weekends to check on public works projects.

“Now’s going to be my time to spend with her and the wonderful honey-dos she’s got laid out for me,” Bay joked.

Bay was born in Ohio, but in 1947 the family moved to the North Olympic Peninsula, a place Bay said — no matter where he goes — he keeps coming back to. After years of working in construction in California, Washington and Alaska, Bay co-owned a sawmill in Port Angeles, but the 14-hour workdays, seven days a week were too much. He sold his share of the business and went to work with the city improving streets. Within six months, he was named the Public Works Department’s superintendent and in 1994 he was named the department’s director. Today Bay’s an established figure, not just in Sequim, but at the county and state levels as well. He’s known for his contacts lists, which are essential when he’s searching for grants and other funding options.

“That’s something I just built up. I felt that it was just imperative. If you’re going to ask someone for money, you need to talk to them and look right in their eyes and face, so they can see who you really are,” Bay said.

Over the past 20 years, Bay has watched the city of Sequim go through a huge expansion and he’s made sure that Public Works has taken a proactive role in keeping up with the city’s growth, from expanding on Sequim’s downtown to adding landscaping and open space throughout the city.

“It was a lot of fun to be a part of making all that happen. I’m excited where we’re at,” Bay said.

His most satisfying accomplishments, however, have to be establishing the city’s state-of-the-art water facility and water reuse program. Bay doesn’t exactly look like he’d be an environmental type and he admits he wasn’t always.

“You have to remember, before I got here I was cutting down trees! We tore the countryside up and we were very good at it,” Bay said. “But when I started working here, I realized I wanted to do something so that I could leave it for my kids better than what somebody left it for me.”

Bay says he’ll remain involved with the city but more or less as an audience member, picking and choosing where to voice his opinion.

Although his last day is April 25, Bay is working on a reconstruction of the Public Works Department itself, creating managerial positions for different aspects of the department — water, sewer, parks, streets.

“I can see when we start hitting populations of 10,000, 12,000, you’re going to have to have somebody in charge of the water department, somebody in charge of the sewer department. I think the Public Works director will still be at the top and everything will be funneled up to him, but he won’t be making all the decisions,” Bay said.

The city has yet to hire someone to succeed Bay, but has contracted with a consultant to oversee the employment search.

“This is a good-hearted man and it’s a real loss for this city,” Councilman Walt Schubert said of Bay.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Jul 30 edition online now. Browse the archives.