By Laurelle Walsh
Building Official Dave Sandoz is finishing up his duties this week after 5 ½ years of issuing building permits, conducting inspections and reviewing plans for construction projects in the towns of Winthrop and Twisp.
Sandoz will be returning to Richland, Wash., to do engineering at Bechtel International’s Hanford Vitrification Plant — the world’s largest radioactive-waste treatment plant.
“It’s interesting technology that’s never been done before,” said Sandoz, who is no stranger to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. He had been a mechanical engineer at Hanford for 25 years before he took early retirement and moved with his wife, Sally, to the Methow Valley in 2007.
Sandoz was hired as Winthrop’s first building official in September of that year, not long after he moved to the area.
“I had always intended to go back to work,” Sandoz said. “I planned to keep my eyes open for whatever turned up.”
Winthrop had always contracted with building inspectors up until then, Sandoz said. But after “a lot of difficulties” working with private contractors, and having just come out of a “banner year of crazy growth” in 2006, the town decided it needed a full-time inspector and created the position of building official, said Sandoz.
The Town of Twisp began contracting with Winthrop for services soon after, which helped both towns justify the new position, he added.
“I have enjoyed my time here,” said Sandoz. “It has been a great opportunity to help a couple of small towns manage their building departments.”
Sandoz and his wife will keep their home in Twin Lakes and plan to split their time between Winthrop and Richland, he said. They will be commuting by air, when weather permits, in Sandoz’s 1960 Cessna, he said.
“I like to be engaged and challenged,” said Sandoz. “I don’t really believe in retiring. I consider this my next adventure.”
The building official will continue to be an employee of the Town of Winthrop, with Twisp contracting for services, according to Winthrop Clerk/Treasurer Michelle Gaines. Applications will be accepted at Town Hall until Thursday (Jan. 30).
“We have had a fair number of applications for the position,” said Gaines. “We should have somebody hired by February.”
Mayors Sue Langdalen and Soo Ing-Moody will start looking over applications on Monday (Feb. 3), Gaines said.
In the meantime, temporary coverage of the building official’s duties will be provided by the Okanogan County Building Department, Gaines said.