Lifetime resident Jim Mitchell spent over five decades ensuring the health and safety of the lake here in Lake Stevens and was an integral part of creating a local sewer district where he served as Sewer Commissioner for 20 years.
On Thursday, March 28, Mitchell was honored posthumously with the dedication of the Lake Stevens Sewer District’s Conference Center and it’s new name, James B. Mitchell Conference Center.
Sewer District Manager Darwin Smith honored Mitchell by saying, “Jim helped us understand what it meant to serve your community not to have your community serve you.”
Dozens gathered, including Mitchell’s wife Nancy, to celebrate this happy occasion. Past and present sewer commissioners and local leaders were all on hand.
“We want to thank the Mitchell family for him (Jim) being a part of all of this,” Sewer Commissioner Dan Lorentzen said. “He really, truly believed in this cause.”
Mitchell’s legacy will be felt for decades to come and because of his perseverance the community is able to enjoy the benefits of the lake, a cause that was not always accepted within the community.
Mitchell continued to push for a clean lake and better waste system. People finally started listening when the Red Cross refused to teach swimming lessons in the lake.
“In 1955 the water quality of Lake Stevens had deteriorated so badly and the public could not stand the look of the algae nor the smell. A committee was formed and it was soon discovered that the lake’s drainage basin made the on-site sewage disposal systems in the area of the lake ineffective, resulting in raw sewage discharge directly into the lake and tributary streams,” Sewer District Administration Manager Tonya Christoffersen said.
If it had not been for the efforts of Jim and Nancy Mitchell and others like them, the lake would have been contaminated for years to come.
“We want to thank Jim and his wife Nancy, for their hard work and commitment to the community. He is being recognized today as a Commissioner who challenged others for the good of the lake and the citizens of the city he has lived in since he was born,” Christoffersen wrote in a statement that was read at the dedication.
Nancy Mitchell was thrilled with this high honor and knows that Jim would have been as well.
“This is so nice, he would love it,” Mitchell said. “It is something that the commission needed.”