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11/13/2013 2:20:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
String of incidents at Crunch Pak worries city

Sebastian Moraga
Staff writer

An average of one phone call to

RiverCom a week has some Cashmere residents -including the mayor-raising their eyebrows at Crunch Pak.

At a council meeting earlier this fall, Mayor Jeff Gomes said he had heard from neighbors about repeated incidents near and around the apple-slicing giant's headquarters. He asked the sheriff's office to investigate the frequency of the calls.

"I wanted to get some concrete numbers to see if it was just a perception issue or if it was in fact a lot of calls there," Gomes said.

After about three weeks, he got his answer:

Thirty-one incidents at 300 Sunset Highway have been reported in 2013, along with 42 calls to RiverCom, as of Oct. 14.

By comparison, there were 33 incidents and 39 calls in all of 2012.

The 2013 incident report list includes theft (three times), accidents without injury, (six) suspicious behavior (four), robbery (one), fraud (one), harassment (one) and malicious mischief (one).

The 2012 report includes seven accidents with no injuries, two harassment calls, five burglaries, one theft, one malicious mischief, and three instances of public assistance.

"I was curious to see what that looked like," Gomes said of the reports, "Knowing what

RiverCom costs are, so we are already in excess of $1,300 just for RiverCom, and I'm sure it has an impact on the sheriff's office, too."

Tony Freitag, director of marketing and communications for Crunch Pak said the company has done much to try and minimize the number of calls.

"We take it very seriously," he said. "What we want more than anything is to be a good neighbor."

Freitag listed the company's creation of a full-time team that "does nothing but patrol the grounds, we have a staff of people who do nothing but pick up trash and we have moved our pickup point for waste management away from residential areas," he said, adding that it's hard to control what the company can't see.

"We are limited as to what we can do once our employees get to the street," he said. "And it's hard to get the drivers to do what we ask them to do because they don't work for us."

Freitag mentioned the challenges the company has encountered and overcome in the past, such as the old occurrence of having trucks block Sunset Highway traffic when exiting its building.

Crunch Pak operates 24 hours a day, and some of the incidents come with having a round-the-clock business, Freitag said.

"I would be willing to bet some of these things take place in places with large parking lots," he said. "One of the reasons we installed a large security system is to monitor what goes on in the parking lot. We also installed night cameras so we can see what is going on. We are very concerned about our employees and we want to protect them as much as possible."

Situations like malicious mischief are unfortunate, Freitag said, but some of these issues will arise in any company with a large staff. Freitag said he will ask the Sheriff's Office for the same information the mayor received.

"If we have that list and we identify a pattern we are going to address that pattern," he said.

Lastly, Freitag asked the community to see the positive things Crunch Pak does, like participating and sponsoring events during the school year and in the summer.

"But," he said. "We always need to be better. If we can be better, we are going to be better and that's our goal."

Gomes said the city worries about the costs. If the call-per-week average holds up for November and December, it might cost the city close to $2,000 on RiverCom calls alone, he said.

"These calls are not generated by the Crunch Pak Company, they are generated by their employees," he said.

The calls are typical of RiverCom calls in Cashmere, Gomes said, but "to me, they are kind of concentrated in one area," he added, later adding, "It's a problem for the sheriff's department and it's a problem for our city, financially, plus the threat of having all that going on."

Sebastian Moraga can be reached at 782-3781 or reporter@cashmerevalleyrecord.com





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