By Erin Freeman | Lynnwood Times Staff
At its April 27 business meeting, the Lynnwood City Council began their virtual meeting by honoring their Executive Assistant Beth Morris, who is retiring from her position after 14 years of service.
The councilmembers took turns thanking Morris for her lasting impression on the Lynnwood community.
“I want to thank Beth from the bottom of my heart for everything she has done for us, for the people of this city and the employees of the city,” said Councilmember Ruth Ross.
“There’s a terminology in ethos that comes to mind when I think of Beth… it’s this thing called gracious professionalism,” followed Councilmember Ian Cotton. “I don’t think I could think of anybody more than Beth who embodies a gracious professional, someone who is always sharp and always on point, always knows what she’s doing but is always incredibly gracious with those who sometimes aren’t.”
Morris responded to the praise, saying that “sometimes feelings go beyond words, but I’m going to try. Over the past few weeks, the outpouring of calls, emails and texts I have received has been overwhelming. To say they made me feel loved, valued and appreciated is an understatement. It’s been a pleasure working with Mayor Smith, the Lynnwood team, the volunteers, community members and stakeholders. To all of you that I’ve worked alongside, thank you for the memories.”
When Morris announced her retirement earlier this year, the council started searching for a new executive assistant. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the recruitment process has been postponed until further notice. In the meantime, Interim City Clerk Karen Fitzthum has put together a team of city employees that will be working to complete Morris’s tasks.
Later that evening, the council received an update on the city’s response to COVID-19 from Lynnwood Police Commander Chuck Steichen.
Over the next two weeks, Steichen and his team will be developing a plan for the gradual reintroduction of department services. Steichen says that although it’s a deliberate process that could take up to a month to begin to be implemented, he wants to have an established procedure in place for each department.
“We’re going to come up with our plans of what that looks like on our end, so when we start getting those orders, we’re ready to move and we know exactly how we’re going to do it, explained Steichen. “That’s our plan for this week and next- just to solidify those plans with each department and have it in place.”
David Kleitsch from the city’s Development and Business Services (DBS) followed Steichen’s briefing, to explain the DBS’s outward response to their customers and the business community.
Kleitsch said that throughout the pandemic, the DBS has received a decreased volume of customers contacting them but told the council that this is correlated with their increased substance of external communication.
“We did some important things early on with regards to communications,” explained Kleitsch. “There’s been a lot of information that people got early on…and we connected people to where they need to be.”
To improve efficiency for their customers, DBS revised their communication mediums so that people could receive a quicker answer to their questions. Those who call their phone line are now connected with a person, rather than an electronic response. They’ve also set up an automated email reply system that responds to customers with all of DBS’s immediate protocols, current workflow model, and how they could reach someone directly. Kleitsch explained that they also went into auto-notification on all permits and inspections, to stay connected with customers about where their specific projects are at in their process.
“Thank you, Director Kleitsch, for the briefing and please extend our thanks to your staff for all their help to keep things moving,” responded councilmember Cotton.
The next Lynnwood City Council Business Meeting will be held electronically on May 11 at 7 p.m. and can be accessed online at www.LynnwoodWA.gov/LIVE.