Deputy Ken Bajema, left, receives a lifesaving award from Marshal Rikki Schwab. Photo by Don Nelson

Deputy Ken Bajema, left, receives a lifesaving award from Marshal Rikki Schwab. Photo by Don Nelson

Outgoing deputy receives commendation and lifesaving award from town

By Don Nelson

The Winthrop Marshal’s Office will see a complete turnover in personnel in less than a year by the time it fills new vacancies that arose last week.

The Town Council learned at its June 18 meeting that Deputy Marshal Ken Bajema has decided to leave the department, meaning that Marshal Rikki Schwab has two vacant deputy positions to fill. She said the openings have drawn an impressive field of applicants.

At the same time, police clerk Darlene Schoenwald also is resigning, the council learned.

All the vacancies have been posted.

Bajema was hired as a deputy in 2010 and completed his police academy training in 2011. He is staying in the community and will be a reserve deputy, Schwab said.

Schwab, who was sworn in on May 28, replaced former Marshal David Dahlstrom, who resigned in late 2013. The position was vacant until Schwab took the post. Bajema had been filling in as interim marshal. He did not apply for the marshal’s position.

Former deputy Seth Carlson resigned last December after being in the department for less than a year. After he left, the town council authorized Bajema to find part-time help. Bryan Alexander, a park ranger at Pearrygin Lake State Park, served in that capacity.

Bajema and Alexander received commendations Wednesday for what Schwab called their extraordinary efforts to provide effective policing in Winthrop while the department was down to one officer. Bajema also received a lifesaving award for actions he took to prevent a teenager from attempting suicide.

Also at its June 18 meeting, the council heard from Scott Miller, director of Okanogan County Emergency Management, who asked for the town’s approval of a “multi-hazard mitigation plan” that will be coordinated by the county to respond to disasters and emergency situations in every jurisdiction. The plan would apply to incidents such as earthquakes, floods, landslides, severe weather, loss of power and wildland fires, Miller said, and has already been approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

In other business, the council agreed to extend by three months a ground lease that Aero Methow Rescue Service has on town property where its Winthrop station is located. Aero Methow hopes to buy the property but is waiting for an appraisal, and needs the lease extension to stay on the site in the meantime.

The council also reappointed Julie Muyllaert to the town planning commission.