Rash of break-ins in one night reported
By Demian Cushing
In the first week of the newly christened budget year, tensions were lowered as the work of running the city settled into the sights of many at the meeting of the Hines Common Council on Tuesday, July 10.
Superintendent of Public Works Pedro Zabala filed two separate reports. The first was in regard to the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) overlay project, which is set to begin the final week of July and end by mid-August. Harney Rock and Paving is the contractor for this project and will begin the first “lift” on West Bennett then move on to West and East Barnes before finishing up on East Hanley. “This is all subject to change,” Zabala noted.
The second report Zabala filed concerned water usage as it compared to the same time last year. The first six months of 2012 have seen an increase of 44.61 percent (through July 10). While it was noted that the population base has remained relatively constant, the usage has increased steadily. No matter what the reason for the increase, the news was good in light of the fact that a significant portion of the city’s revenue is generated by the metered use of its water system.
Sergeant Ryan DeLange of the Hines Police Department reported that the break-ins, which had been dwindling in recent weeks, began again with 17 in one night. “They were all in Burns, however, in Hines they just stole bikes,” said DeLange. “They stole five bikes, rode them around a little bit and took them back. All five bikes were recovered, we didn’t have to look for them.”
DeLange went on to discuss a recurring problem for emergency responders in that, especially at night, it becomes difficult to locate addresses for those who are requiring assistance. Many homes have no street numbers at all. While no city ordinance exists that would mandate the proper exhibition of street numbers, City Administrator (CA) Joan Davies remarked, “It’s for their own good, so that emergency people can find them.”
Relating to news about the police department, it was learned during a later segment of the meeting that no decision had been made yet regarding the position of police chief. Mayor Nikki Morgan stated, “We have received a contract proposal [from] the sheriff’s office and we are looking into that and we are also looking into other alternatives.”
The absence of Fire Chief Bob Spence was explained by (CA) Davies stating that he was fighting fire in Catlow Valley. She went on to report that Spence’s department responded to two different vehicle accidents, one on Highway 20 West involving a pick-up truck, the other involving a semi-truck rollover near Fields.
A Harney County Chamber of Commerce update was made by Executive Director Jen Hoke, which was highlighted by the announcement of the “2012 Burns and Hines Art Walk,” an event that she said would feature various local businesses as well as artists.
Another unique development for the Burns-Hines “corridor” was the acceptance of these communities into “Oregon Main Street,” a federal program that will give long-term investment of available resources and experience to revitalize the two communities — from downtown Burns to Lottery Lane in Hines. The first phase according to Hoke is already under way and focuses on a 16-block area in Burns that will soon include artists’ renderings of four different buildings within the phase one area. When asked by councilor Brent Drury how long it would take to get to Hines, Hoke replied that it would be based on the level of participation but generally each phase would last about three years. “We’re learning as we’re going. It’s a process and I’m trying to remind people of that. People want to see immediate results — that’s not going to happen,” Hoke said.
In other news:
• two new businesses were granted licenses, including one for “Stepping Out Transportation,” which will focus primarily on regional non-emergency medical transports as well as a local taxi service when available. The other was for “Hendershot Produce,” which will be selling seasonal fruits and vegetables;
• a donation request was made by Justin Lewellen on behalf of Babe Ruth baseball, seeking funds for a new backstop at the junior varsity baseball field. It was moved, seconded and passed that the city donate $50 to the organization;
• council and administrator comments focused on work around the Hines pavilion, which will soon include gravel donated by ACW as well as plans for landscaping and walkways that CA Davies and Zabala had taken some time to study and diagram. Councilor John Mims said that he would be willing to check into the possibility of having kids from the Oregon Youth Authority (OYA) construct some benches for the pavilion as well. Councilor Dick Baird went on in his comments to thank Darrell Williams and his crew from parole and probation for their hard work and initiative in cleaning up in and around the city. The donation of a “good weed-eater” to Williams’ crew was taken under advisement, further inquiry seemed advisable as the specific needs of the crew were unknown.
The next council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 24, at Hines City Hall.