Hines council looks at potential problems

By Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

During the public comment period of the regular meeting of the Hines Common Council (held Feb. 12), Preston Janssen addressed the council regarding Hines’ level of preparedness for emergency management, in light of a recent power outage in the community.

City Administrator Joan Davies said Hines is part of the emergency management plan shared with the city of Burns and Harney County, and the plan is currently being updated. Davies said she will attend two meetings to address the Harney County Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan. She added that, as part of the monthly Hines safety meeting, staff discussed the effects of the power outage, and two propane heaters that can be operated indoors were purchased, adding to the city’s emergency functions.

Janssen said, during the outage, the city of Burns did not have its generator ready, and LifeFlight air ambulance was unable to land at the Burns airport while the lights were out.

Councilor Dick Anderson asked whether Hines would have a sufficient supply of water in the event of an emergency.

Superintendent of Public Works Pedro Zabala answered that the city’s water tank has about three days worth of water.

“If everyone conserves, it could last a long time,” he said. He added that it would probably be easier to conserve water in the winter than in the summer. “If everyone has their sprinklers on, the water could be out within a few hours,” he said.

Fire Chief Bob Spence said a lot of people light candles when the power goes out. He warned that people need to be careful with candles because they can be a fire hazard.

“If an animal knocks a candle down, it could start a fire,” he said. He added that the department would have to use water to put the fire out, which would be problematic if the supply were limited.

Spence said the doors to the fire department are operated by electricity and have to be opened by hand when the power goes out, which is time-consuming.

“We need to revisit that,” Mayor Nikki Morgan said, regarding the door.

Spence added that a prolonged outage could cause the fire trucks to freeze, creating another emergency.

Janssen requested that the city keep citizens up-to-date on its emergency preparedness plans by including this information in its newsletter.

The council reviewed a survey of salaries that was conducted statewide and in Eastern Oregon cities and counties. Davies said that in an executive session held in January, the council agreed that staff salaries should be adjusted upwards, bringing them closer to comparative wages.

Davies said Harney County found that pay rates were below average for many county positions. She said she talked to Harney County Judge Steve Grasty and learned that, instead of a “huge leap” in salary, the county plans to adjust employee salaries by 5 percent each year.

“We talked about a 3-percent salary adjustment [for city of Hines employees],” Morgan said.

Councilor Tom Choate made a motion to implement a 3-percent salary adjustment for all city employees (except the city administrator and police chief), which would be retroactive as of Feb. 1. The motion was approved.

Morgan said amounts for the police chief and city administrator were also discussed in the council’s executive session.

Davies said Police Chief Ryan DeLange’s pay needs to be addressed because he has “hit his six-month anniversary” as police chief and obtained his supervisory certificate. DeLange also obtained his advanced certificate. He obtained these certificates by completing college classes and management-specific assignments required by the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training.

Councilor Dick Baird made a motion to raise DeLange’s pay to $4,700 per month, with no overtime or on-call compensation, and he suggested the raise be retroactive to Feb. 1. The council approved the motion.

Administrator Davies’ pay was not addressed during the meeting.

DeLange introduced Officer Casey Held to the council and everyone in attendance. Held joined the Hines Police Department Feb. 1.

“He is doing an excellent job so far,” DeLange said.

DeLange reported that there has been an increase in dog complaints (16 in the last 27 to 30 days). He added that complaints regarding juveniles have also increased. He said juveniles are “doing basically adult crimes.”

He said he met with Eastern Oregon Academy (EOA) Director Rich Streeter and Harney County Juvenile Department Director John Copenhaver to discuss EOA. DeLange said the department has not received any calls from EOA for about three months. However, he said the department hopes to assist EOA with serious crimes committed by juveniles in the facility, such as major assaults.

He added that he received two complaints regarding vehicles speeding when they come off North Woodland Avenue onto West Pettibone Avenue. DeLange discussed the option of putting a three- or four-way stop in at this intersection, but Zabala said these types of stops were not previously established because downhill traffic slides right through the intersection when the roads are icy. DeLange said the department will patrol the area more heavily.

DeLange concluded by reporting that he wrote a letter to a Hines Middle School (HMS) student commending him for holding the door open for people entering the school in the morning. He said the letter was read over the public announcement system to the whole school, and Davies gave the student a gift certificate.

Spence said the fire department received two calls for chimney fires in Burns, but one call was canceled before the department arrived at the scene.

He also updated the council regarding upcoming training, including a hazardous materials training for Captain David Reiss and a training in Mt. Vernon that the department plans to help provide.

Spence added that the department is working with the state fire marshal’s office to obtain free smoke detectors, which would be installed by the department free of charge. He said the department would start by installing detectors at Burns-Hines Mobile Home Park.

Zabala reported that the maintenance department fixed a water leak near Faith Baptist Church and has taken care of other “odds and ends.”

Davies said one of the “odds and ends” was refacing the council table.

Morgan commented that the table looks “very nice.”

Davies summarized the 2011-12 audit by Oster Professional Group. She said city revenues were up 23 percent from last year and costs were down 15 percent. She added that no new long-term debt was incurred during the past year.

Seven months into the current year, general fund revenue is at 78 percent, with expenditures at 50 percent, Davies said. She added that water and sewer revenue is 74 percent, with expenditures at 63 percent. She said streets revenue is at 71 percent, with expenditures at 6 percent. She added that the roads fund is being protected because it has “suffered greatly” in previous years due to decreased revenue and increased spending in crack-sealing projects.

“Bottom line, we are doing really super,” she said.

Davies reported that the city raised $4,601.69 for park beautification by collecting returnable cans and bottles. She thanked Anderson for his help with collecting the cans and bottles, and Anderson suggested that the city send a letter of thanks to Erickson’s Thriftway for taking the cans and bottles in bags.

The council decided to send Davies to the Oregon Municipal Finance Officers Association (OMFOA) conference March 11-13. It also agreed to send Davies to the Department of Revenue Budget Law Workshop March 14, which Davies said she will attend on her way home from the OMFOA conference.

The council also decided to send Zabala and Jerry Lewellen, a member of the city’s maintenance department, to the American Water Works Association Eastern Oregon Operators Conference March 31 until April 3.

Davies, Zabala and Lewellen will be reimbursed for mileage, meals and lodging.

Councilor John Mims had a question regarding the city’s budget for conferences.

He asked, “Do we need to be more picky about the ones we go to because of the budget?”

Baird replied that some of the conferences are necessary for staff to keep up on their certifications.

Morgan added that Davies “picks and chooses which ones she goes to.” She said, “The two coming up [for Davies] are very important.”

Forrest and Jen Keady attended to discuss their application for a business license for The Big Bear Lodge.

Forrest Keady said he hopes to re-open the lodge at the beginning of April. The lodge will be open Thursday through Saturday from 4 p.m. until close. Keady explained that the closing time will depend on business. He said he plans to simplify the menu, serving items like hamburgers, sandwiches, soups, salads and desserts. The lodge will no longer serve steak, he said.

Forrest Keady said the lodge also plans to serve beer and wine. He said there will be seven beers on tap. A liquor license to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission was submitted by the Keadys for council approval.

Davies said she discussed the proposed liquor license with DeLange and “received his OK.”

Jen Keady asked for information regarding taxi services that are licensed in the city of Hines.

Davies said there are three licensed taxi services in the city, but she could not remember the names of all of them. However, she said she would provide the Keadys with contact information for all three services.

The council approved both applications.

The council also approved a business license for Amanda Bennett for Making Mayhem Arts. Bennett said she makes jewelry out of recycled copper, which she gets from the recycling center. She said she plans to sell her jewelry online using Etsy, a website focused on buying and selling handmade and vintage items.

Bennett said she also plans to sell her jewelry at the John Scharff Migratory Bird Festival in April, as she sold jewelry at the festival last year and did well. Bennett plans to sell jewelry at Obsidian Days and the Farmer’s Market, as well.

The council also approved a business license for First Class Distribution, a business that sells Kirby vacuum cleaners door-to-door.

In other business, the council:

• donated $100 to Harney District Hospital to sponsor half of a table at its “Monte Carlo Casino Night” fund raiser;

• donated $100 to Burns High School “Project Graduation,” which will be used to help fund the drug- and alcohol-free all-night senior party;

• donated $125 to sponsor half a table at the Kids Club of Harney County “Diamonds in a Glass” fund raiser;

• donated $50 to Harney Helping Organization for Personal Emergencies, a nonprofit organization that assists domestic-abuse survivors;

• was presented with a document entitled “City Council Rules & Procedures,” which formalizes the conduct of meetings, the way audience members address the council, parliamentary motions and voting, as well as council relations with city staff. The council formally adopted the rules as they were read by Davies;

•discussed how and where it will hang its migratory bird festival banners. Baird said each of the banners are different and feature artwork from local children. The council also discussed installing permanent posts to hang these and other banners. Councilor Hilda Allison said her business has a lot of surplus metal that can be used to make posts;

• is acquiring materials to build four octogonal picnic tables for the city of Hines Pavilion;

• learned from Davies that someone will present information about a neighborhood watch program during the next council meeting.

The next common council meeting will be held Feb. 26 at 6:30 p.m. at city hall.

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