By Don Nelson
Kellen Northcott will join his uncle Rick Northcott on the Winthrop Town Council, filling a seat vacated by the departure of Jessica Sheehan.
The council selected Northcott at its meeting last week after hearing from him and another applicant for the vacant seat, Robert DeHart.
It’s not the first time in recent years that relatives have served on the council at the same time. Mayor Sue Langdalen and her daughter, Tiffany Langdalen, were on the council simultaneously for a while.
Northcott has owned Java Man Espresso in Winthrop since last fall. He grew up in the Methow Valley, is a 2006 graduate of Liberty Bell High School, and is the son of Bart and Sue Northcott.
Northcott told the council that his family has been a part of the valley for a long time and he wants to make a contribution “on a local scale” that contributes to the town’s success.
“This is where I want to spend the rest of my life,” Northcott said. “I’m young, ambitious and I want to have a positive impact.”
DeHart, retired from a career with The Boeing Co., said he has experience in problem-solving and dealing with a variety of people. He said Winthrop reminds him of the small town he grew up in.
In small communities, DeHart said, “you can be a problem or a solution, and I would rather be part of the solution.” He said he would be a good listener and consensus-builder.
After a short executive session, the council announced it will appoint Northcott. Council member Mike Strulic expressed the sentiment of the council when he said that both Northcott and DeHart were strong candidates.
In other business, the council discussed a proposed update of the town’s Westernization Code that was recently completed by the Westernization Design Review Board — local residents Ron McCollum, Vicki Caldwell, Lauri Martin and Kristen Smith, with the assistance of Steve Oulman, a retired city planner who organized and drafted the text.
The update has been more than a year in the making, with the goal of helping to assure that Winthrop’s Westernization program “continues to further the community’s goals for beautification and economic development,” according to a news release by the review committee.
Council members had some questions about the proposed update but were generally complimentary of the committee’s efforts.
“I really enjoyed reading it,” Mayor Langdalen said. “You made it easy” to understand the code’s provisions.
Council member Gaile Bryant-Cannon said she was concerned that some identifying signs on business buildings are too large. Oulman said the code suggests that no more than 30 percent of a building’s facade should be taken up by signage, and that no downtown building exceeds that.
Design review board members said they would make some minor changes where necessary before the code update has a public hearing.