Bishop retires after 11 years as Coupeville public works director

Malcolm Bishop - File photo
Malcolm Bishop
— image credit: File photo

Since the start of the millennium, Coupeville officials have made numerous improvements to the town’s infrastructure and utilities.

One of the leaders who helped make those projects a reality is finishing up his career with the historic town.

Malcolm Bishop, who has been Coupeville’s public works director for 11 years, is retiring at the end of June.

“There’s a lot of things I’d like to have done, but it’s time to turn it over to somebody else,” Bishop said in an interview.

Since taking over as public works director in 2000, Bishop has led the town in completing numerous public works projects. The big ones include upgrading Coupeville’s wastewater treatment plant, installing new sewer lift stations and installing additional wells near Fort Casey to improve the quality and increased the quantity of water available to town residents. Ever humble, Bishop is quick to compliment the town’s employees for their efforts in completing those utility projects.

Coupeville Mayor Nancy Conard praised Bishop’s work.

“He has been an asset to the community,” Conard said, adding the town is in better shape than it was before Bishop arrived.

Prior to becoming Coupeville’s public works director, Bishop worked for 10 years as a field shop manager for National Frozen Foods in Burlington. Prior to that, he was a high school teacher who taught at schools in Oregon, Mount Vernon and Oak Harbor; he taught such diverse subjects as power mechanics and photography.

“I feel real fortunate. I’ve had three outstanding careers,” Bishop said.

When National Frozen Foods chose to relocate from Skagit County to Moses Lake, Bishop decided he wanted to stay in the Coupeville area, which is where he grew up. He applied for the town’s public works director position because he was interested in the town’s sewer and water systems.

But now, he decided to retire because he wants to spend more time with family and his hobbies. He and his wife, Vicky, have three children and seven grandchildren. He often finds himself away from home on the weekends visiting family.

Bishop is an antique engine and car enthusiast. He wants to be more active in several car clubs and the Early Day Gas Engine and Tractor Association. Bishop owns engines — including farm equipment and a gas-powered washing machine — that were built in the 1910s and 1920s.

As for cars, he has pared down his collection in recent years, but it includes a 1929 Franklin, a 1930 Ford, 1942 Ford Jeep, 1952 Dodge pickup, 1955 Chrysler 300 and an MG Midget.

“I had more, but I got realistic. I could only afford to take care of a few of them,” Bishop said.

Bishop is spending the last week as director overseeing work on a new storage building at the Fort Casey well field.

The town has already adjusted staff positions to account for Bishop’s departure. Town officials decided not to hire a replacement public works director; they are shuffling Bishop’s responsibilities among several employees. Conard said the heads of the various departments had skills to run each area.

Bishop’s duties are divided between public works superintendent Larry Smith, who will oversee streets and parks; utilities superintendent Willy LaRue, who runs the wastewater treatment plant and the water system; and Bob Snyder; who makes site inspections and issues permits.

The town did hire a part-time engineer, Greg Cane, to fill in the remaining gaps of Bishop’s job. Conard said Cane will oversee such duties as transportation planning and stormwater permitting.

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