Clallam Transit chief retires after 39 years

Kevin Gallacci has submitted his resignation as general manager of Clallam Transit, saying that, after 39 years at the public transit system, he was ready to retire and was leaving the organization in the capable hands of its leadership team.

“I’ve been kicking this around for a couple of years now looking for the right window of opportunity that worked for me and this agency,” said Gallacci, 58, whose last day is June 30.

“There’s some things in place here that can make this transition work. It’s just time for me to go on to a new chapter and to try some new things.”

The board unanimously approved Gallacci’s resignation on April 19, but not without expressing their mixed feelings about his departure.

“You have led this organization to a place where we are just such a well-oiled machine, we’re moving forward with such great momentum,” said board member Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin, who is also a Port Angeles City Council member.

“And at the same time, you deserve to retire and enjoy this.”

Board member Mark Ozias, who is also a Clallam County commissioner, said Gallacci leaves a legacy of fostering positive working relationships and cultivating a culture of commitment and professionalism at the agency.

“You know, not everyone gets a chance to go out on top, and I think that’s exactly what you’re doing,” Ozias said.

“You’ve provided the leadership for a trustworthy and dependable team that is really helping to strengthen Clallam Transit to be an ever more responsive agency.”

The board moved to accept Gallacci’s recommendation that operations manager Jim Fetzer be appointed acting general manager effective July 1 and receive a 10 percent increase in his current salary of $123,179 for the assignment.

Gallacci’s salary $148,367 includes a 5 percent cost of living raise he received on Jan. 1.

Fetzer joined Clallam Transit in 2019 and led the team that developed and launched the Hurricane Ridge and Interlink services, among other projects. He received the 2022 Clallam Transit Employee of the Year Award.

“I highly recommend Jim,” Gallacci said, citing Fetzer’s more than 40 years of transit experience that had included positions as director of development, general manager and director of maintenance facility at other agencies. “Our success and my success — Jim has been completely part of that.”

Fetzer will continue as operations manager when he becomes interim general manager on July 1. He said his team was more than capable of handling many operations duties when that occurs.

“I will certainly be helping all I can, but I do have talent back there,” Fetzer said. “There is a supervisor, in particular, that can step up and into that role.”

Gallacci served as both maintenance manager and acting general manager before the board selected him to run the agency in 2017.

Gallacci said the agency would be developing a plan for keeping its large projects — a fuel tank replacement, solar lighting at its park and ride lots and transitioning to a zero-emission fleet — on track.

Board chair Juanita Weissenfels appointed board members Kathy Downer of the Sequim City Council, Mike French of the Clalam County commission and Schromen-Wawrin to a subcommittee that would work with Gallacci and human resources manager Andy Rowlson to come up with a plan and timeline for selecting a new general manager.

The agency board could choose to appoint a new general manager, look internally for candidates or hire a recruitment firm to conduct an external search.

Other news from the meeting:

• After its success as a pilot program last year, the Hurricane Ridge shuttle will return this summer with two new stops that have been added in response to rider demand: at the Heart O’ the Hills Ranger Station and the Switchback Trail parking area.

Buses will make stops at the Heart O’ the Hills Ranger Station near the Lake Angeles trailhead on their southbound and northbound trips. Buses will only stop at the Switchback Trail on their southbound trips because there is not enough shoulder on the northbound side of the road to safely load and unload passengers.

Those at the Switchback Trail stop who want to return to the Gateway Transit Center will have to ride a southbound bus the 3 miles to Hurricane Ridge, where it will turn around and head back down the mountain.

Work on constructing the stops has been made easier by the park’s closure and will be finished by the time the shuttle service starts, Gallacci said.

Clallam Transit plans to install a bus shelter at the Switchback Trail stop this summer and the Heart O’ the Hills Ranger Station next year. The National Park Service is marking and striping the areas.

Like last year, buses will not stop at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center, so riders must purchase park passes before they get on the bus.

• The Interlink on-demand service that began in December in Forks and Sequim has continued to receive positive feedback from riders, Fetzer said.

Ridership has remained stable in Forks, while it has almost doubled in Sequim, requiring the addition of a second van to meet demand.

Interlink is a microtransit service that takes riders from their homes to anywhere within designated zones in the two towns.