Crazy Tie Guy is setting sail Dec. 4
November 28, 2012
By Michele Mihalovich
The city of North Bend made two decisions that would change the course of its history. First, in 1999, it imposed a 10-year moratorium on all new construction that required water rights. Three years later, it hired Crazy Tie Guy.
The city named Ron Garrow as its first public works director, and brought him on specifically to find a solution to the water problem. And if he could do it, they were willing to overlook his propensity for donning silly ties.
Garrow didn’t use a divining rod to find a new water source, but he did use knowledge gleaned from his University of Washington master’s degree in civil engineering, with an emphasis in water resource management, and his work with the cities of Fife, Milton and Federal Way.
Tapping into that experience, he knew to not look for water in loose, sandy soil down by the river, and instead pointed the drill right on the city’s public works property, set atop hard rock.
The Centennial Well was dug in 2008, and the final water rights were approved in 2009, which put an end to the city’s imposed moratorium, he said.
Garrow said finding a new water source was his greatest achievement as a public works director. Since then, the city annexed a huge chunk of rural King County, houses are being built, a new pharmacy is being constructed, and who knows, maybe one day North Bend will get that new hotel it’s always dreamed about.
But it was a different achievement that brought him the most personal satisfaction — convincing an anti-roundabout City Council to approve the traffic circle at North Bend Way and Southeast Cedar Falls Way, rather than putting in a traffic light.
Garrow said he used to live in Bermuda and in Europe, where roundabouts are heavily utilized.
“I knew they worked great and knew a roundabout at that intersection would work great as well,” he said, but the council was pretty set on a traffic light.
It wasn’t until a public hearing, with about 25 members of the public saying they wanted to give a roundabout a try, that the council finally relented and approved the newfangled traffic control device.
“And every single one of those councilmembers have come up to me and said how great that roundabout is,” Garrow said, adding that more will be gracing the city soon.
Garrow is also credited with securing $7 million in grants for street capital improvement projects; $1 million in grants for water capital improvement projects; $5.8 million in loans for water/sewer capital improvement projects; starting a pavement preservation program for city streets; and coordinating the overlay of many street segments, including portions of North Bend Way, Main Street and Park Street. He also developed the city’s Incident Command System and opened the Emergency Operations Center as incident commander for several local disasters.
And all the while, wearing an appropriate, yet crazy tie. Budget hearings meant dusting off his Daffy Dollars and Bugs Bunny Bucks tie. The day the Star interviewed him, he wore a Dilbert tie. And on his last day as public works director, he’ll sport a tie with sailboats — what he hopes to be boarding often as a retiree.
Garrow works as a volunteer for the Red Cross and hopes to continue the emergency work that gets him out of bed late at night.
He also told the Star that the Federal Emergency Management Agency recently contacted him and asked him to be on its reservist list.
Garrow said the list basically makes him available for federal disasters, like the recent Hurricane Sandy that hit the East Coast. It’s unknown what tie he’ll pick for responding to natural disasters.
North Bend will honor Garrow at the Dec. 4 City Council meeting at 7 p.m. if you’d like to see his sailboat tie.
Michele Mihalovich: 392-6434, ext. 246, or firstname.lastname@example.org.