Council member Hoke tries to address concerns
By Randy Parks
The Burns City Council and a small group of concerned citizens have been at odds over a variety of issues at the Burns Municipal Airport for more than a year and at the council meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 8, Councilor Dan Hoke addressed some of the issues.
Hoke said the citizens group had submitted a letter to the editor to the Burns Times-Herald asking for the recall of Mayor Len Vohs and a week later two rebuttals to that letter were published.
Hoke stated that over the past 16 months, he had listened to 15 or 16 hours worth of concerns from the citizens, had spent a lot of time trying to ascertain what is going on at the airport and came to the conclusion that he has a lack of trust issue with the group. “I take my position as a councilor seriously, we’d like to see the airport maximized, and we’ve made steps in that direction,” Hoke said.
Addressing members of the citizens group in attendance, Hoke said they had used council meetings, the newspaper, the coffee shops and now, the state electoral as venues to voice their opinions.
Hoke pointed out two portions of the recall petition that he felt were misrepresentations and untrue, and explained that what he had found while investigating two other airport issues didn’t jibe with what the citizens group was saying.
“I have a trust issue. There are these four situations, and I have one more to look at,” Hoke said. “This small group is not happy with what we’re doing, but in the past the airport has cost the city and the taxpayers of Burns money.
“I don’t even know what you want, but enough is enough, gentlemen. Let’s put it to rest.”
Burns mayor Len Vohs had opened the meeting by telling those in attendance that there would be no in-depth conversation regarding the airport because of pending litigation, so there were no responses from the audience.
City Manager Don Munkers recommended the council amend the city’s dog ordinance after two dogs recently killed a number of sheep on Foley Drive. “It was brutal,” Munkers said. “And no pun intended, but the ordinance has to have more teeth in it.”
Munkers reported he had talked with Wade Foster from Representative Greg Walden’s office about the testing of drone aircraft in the local area, and they would continue that conversation.
Also during his report, Munkers said that he Harney County Judge Steve Grasty would be meeting with the owners of the radio station regarding putting up a new tower; they would check to see if the beacon at the airport is set at the correct angle and review snow removal at the airport; he encouraged everyone to attend the Christmas Jamboree and parade on Dec. 11 and thanked City Clerk Dauna Wensenk and others for their hard work putting the event together.
In other business:
• the council approved Resolution No. 10-530 accepting $3,500 in grants from the Oregon Police Chiefs Association to be used for DUI and seat belt awareness programs;
• Councilor Darwin Johnson reported Park and Rec. is still holding open gym at Slater Elementary School from 8 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and league play will get under way in January;
• Burns Fire Chief Scott Williamson thanked the city public works crew for their help when a truck caught on fire behind Parr Lumber. He also reported they are now up to 19 active firefighters on the volunteer fire department;
• Mayor Vohs thanked out-going councilor Linda Johnson for her service to the community. He also stated there are several people in the city who are running out of their unemployment benefits and are having trouble paying their water and sewer bills. “Maybe we should discuss what we can do to help them out,” Vohs said.
The next city council meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 12, at city hall.