Mason County Commissioner Randy Neatherlin has betrayed the public trust with his secret push to establish a 66-acre GRUMP Gravel Pit in a residential zone on North Shore Road near Belfair. He told pit opponents that his purpose was to “grease the wheels and get things going” in recommending the GRUMP proposal. Randy repeatedly pressed county staff to support the project, asking them “How do we get to yes?”
On March 15, 2017, Mason County staff recommended that the proposed 66-acre GRUMP Gravel Pit be limited to 1.87 acres. Randy didn’t give up.
Why was Randy so persistent? We know that he vacationed in Ireland for 12 days in May of 2017, where he was photographed in Dublin’s Temple Bar with a gravel pit principal. He has repeatedly failed to produce requested records reflecting who paid his expenses in Ireland.
Then, on June 30, 2017, Commissioner Randy obtained approval for the 66-acre pit by representing to staff that a huge gravel mine was depicted on a 1963 photo. The photo depicted a substantial quantity of timber blown down in the huge Columbus Day Windstorm Storm of 1962.
Randy then covered up his actions by taking home the County’s entire GRUMP file, including the staff memo recommending the much smaller 1.87-acre pit. This prevented the public from objecting to the corrupt approval or appealing the erroneous decision.
The GRUMP file was not produced in response to an April 10, 2019 public records request to Mason County because it was still secretly tucked away at Randy’s home. Two & 1/2 years after Randy took the records home, he finally produced the concealed GRUMP file in January 2020, claiming that the application file and staff recommendations had been misplaced in a fire at his residence. In fact, the residential fire was on April 4, 2016, well before the GRUMP application was submitted on Feb. 17, 2017. The County paid a $30,000 settlement for its public records act violation in failing to produce the GRUMP file – the file that Randy had hiding at his home.
After Randy finally returned the GRUMP file to the County in January 2020, the County reviewed the file and rescinded the June 30, 2017 decision Randy had promoted. The County’s recission decision has recently been approved by the Hearing Examiner after a litigated hearing at a cost to Mason County in excess of $35,000., The case is now being appealed to Federal Court at greater County expense.
Nearby property owners have now sued Mason County for more than $50 million for their loss in property values if the allegedly corrupt June 30, 2017 decision approving the 66-acre pit is sustained.
Earline Legge, North Shore Resident