Two join town planning department

Kim Hinds and Ed Jones are new employees in the Town of Coupeville’s planning department. Hinds is a civil engineer and Jones is a building inspector. Photo by Megan Hansen/Whidbey News-Times

Town of Coupeville has two more sets of hands helping move business along with the addition of a town engineer and building inspector.

Ed Jones started as the building inspector a couple weeks ago and new engineer Kim Hinds started Monday.

When walking into the town’s planning department, Jones may be the first face you see.

He’s no stranger to the building world, he built spec houses most of his life before turning to municipal government in 1996.

Jones became a plans examiner for single family residences in Benton County, Ore., before moving, in 1998, to Whidbey Island, where he built his own home.

Here he’s worked a few jobs, including for Island County.

The last eight out of nine Austral summers, he’s been working as a building inspector in Antarctica.

“The economy slowed down in 2008 and I heard about the job and thought, ‘why not?”’ he said.

Working at the south pole was an OK experience, Jones said. He enjoyed seeing the wildlife like the penguins.

Air temperature was a challenge for building and portions of concrete had to be trucked in for foundations, because it couldn’t be laid.

Jones was actually working in Antarctica when he heard about the town building inspector job.

He said a friend told him about it, so he applied online.

“It’s a shorter commute,” he joked.

Jones will be assisting the public with processing permits. He will also be plans examining, serving as the town’s building inspector and sign code enforcer.

He said he’s looking forward to the job.

“It’s nice to be back in my element with plans examining,” he said. “It’s a great group of folks from the top down.

“I hope to provide great customer service — the more you know about the code, the more you can help them.”

Hinds is a licensed civil engineer who worked mostly in the private sector, but in some municipal government mostly in Pierce County. She’s worked on a variety of projects from single family homes to projects for Sound Transit and Boeing. She’s also worked on various stormwater and wastewater projects for schools and parks.

She’s no stranger to Whidbey Island. Hinds’ husband grew up on the island and the couple has owned a home just north of Coupeville for around 10 years.

When she saw the job posting for the town’s engineering position, Hinds said she saw it as the perfect opportunity as a transition into future retirement.

“I’ve always loved the island” she said. “I always knew we’d come back up here, I just didn’t think it’d be so soon. I figured it’d be after retirement.”

The town engineer position is a new one. Previously, the position was filled through contracting services.

Mayor Molly Hughes and the council approved making the position a staff position after finding it would save the town money.

Hinds said right now she’s reviewing code and seeing what needs to be looked at.

She’ll also be setting standards for infrastructure, working to implement policies and then working on projects as they come.

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