Stanwood City Council acted fast to secure a low interest loan that will pay for construction of a new water reservoir. 

Council made the decision at its Sept. 26 meeting where it also discussed the fire department’s new community resource paramedic program and the agencies two new  fire engines.

City snags low interest loan

Stanwood Council approved a $3.2 million loan with Sterling Bank to pay for a new 1.5 million-gallon steel water reservoir, plus a backup generator and sewer improvements. This is the latest step in steadily planning and preparing for a growing population.

The council acted quickly to take advantage of a 2.59% fixed 20-year interest rate by conducting first, second and final adoption in one meeting. The rate offer expires Oct. 10. 

The loan will be repaid through sewer and water utility revenues and developers’ fees spread over two decades, so that the cost will be spread over time between current residents and the newcomers that the increased capacity will also serve, said Financial Director David Hammond.

“The city is timing this loan near a historic low in interest rates; that’s a savings for the rate payers with the lower interest cost,” said Jim Nelson, public finance banker and senior vice president of D.A. Davidson & Co, who advised the city on the matter.

The city chose Sterling Bank from several bidders for the bonds that will fund the project. Sterling had the best rate and best contract.

When Councilmember Rob Johnson questioned the fine print of the loan being callable in 10 years, Nelson explained that it’s callable by the city, not the bank, if circumstances change.

Nelson complemented the city’s qualifications for the low rate.

“It’s a testament to the city’s credit, quality and financial management,” he said.

Plans call for removal of an existing 200,000-gallon concrete reservoir that is reaching its life expectancy. T. Bailey, Inc. has already started demolition work on the old reservoir. The reservoir was designed over the summer, and in June, the contract was awarded to T. Bailey for the low bid of $2,269,250.


Help saves emergency costs

Community Resource Paramedic Darin Reid updated the council on a program that cuts emergency costs and brings help to frequent 911 callers whose needs could be better helped when connected to various community resources.

In February, North County Regional Fire Authority hired Reid, a former deputy chief with Stanwood-Camano Medic One, to help forge the Community Resource Paramedic Program in Stanwood. He left Stanwood in 2011, and now he’s back.

“I’m a sucker for program design and development,” he said.

The program identifies people who have “fallen through the cracks” and connects them with health and safety resources to reduce emergency calls. The proactive outreach saves time and money.

“We’re just getting to the point that we can do the field work,” Reid said.

Resource paramedics can respond quickly to 911 calls for non-life-threatening concerns and often can eliminate the need for a trip to an emergency room, Fire Chief John Cermak said. 

Some people call 911 as their only resource and are transported to the hospital for minor issues or problems that could be avoided with help from clinics, social service organizations and in- home care. The focus is on finding solutions for people living with chronic illness, mental health and substance abuse medical issues. 

“There are more than 50 agencies we can connect with to help people who are non-self-sufficient,” Reid said. 

People who were just released from the hospital might need someone to check in to make sure they’re taking their medication or to see that their home is safe for a wheelchair. Maybe they can’t drive and just need a ride to an appointment or for a therapist to come to them, he said. 

“It’s a paradigm change,” Reid said.


New fire engines

Fire Chief John Cermak reported that in April, North County Regional Fire Authority will receive two fire engines made by Pierce Manufacturing: one tender engine that will serve the Station 90/96 area east of Stanwood and a pumper engine for the area in Stanwood city limits. 

The tender engine has a 2,000-gallon water tank water on board since most rural areas lack hydrants or have long distances between hydrants. The pumper engine has a 750-gallon water tank since the city has fire hydrants everywhere, he said.

“Ground Emergency Medical Transportation funds recovered from the Omnibus-Accountable Care Act allowed us to recuperate partial uncollected funds from Medicaid and Managed Care Organizations that were previously not allowed,” Cermak said. “The $1.1 million recovered helped fund the major portion of these apparatus that cost approximately $1.4 million.”

Commissioners Greg Oakes, Ric Cade, and Rob Johnson were instrumental in allowing the fire authority to buy state-of-the-art apparatus, Cermak said. They went to Wisconsin to see the fit, finish and product differences that set apart past apparatus from the Pierce fire equipment being purchased. 

“This apparatus will last longer, have less maintenance issues and be more reliable for a longer period,” Cermak said.

Contact reporter Peggy Wendel at or 360-416-2189.


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