Resident survey to be sent out 
 
 by Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald
 
Fred Flippence and Peggy Asmussen attended the regular meeting of the Hines Common Council (held Feb. 26) to discuss forming a task force to explore consolidating the cities of Burns and Hines.
 
Flippence said he attended a Hines Common Council meeting about a month ago (Jan. 22) in which he discussed the money that could be saved by consolidating the cities. He said $500,000 could be saved each year.
 
“Financially, it makes sense to have one city instead of two,” he said.
 
Flippence said after the meeting, several people asked him to speak to both councils about consolidation.
 
Flippence spoke to the Burns City Council Feb. 13, and it was suggested that a task force be formed to look at the money that could be saved. 
 
On Feb. 26, Flippence asked the Hines council to appoint citizens to the task force.
 
He said, “Economically, it makes sense to stop putting a burden on businesses,” explaining that some businesses, including auto parts stores, are required to purchase multiple business licenses in order to make deliveries in both towns.
 
Hines Mayor Nikki Morgan asked whether Flippence had documentation proving that the cities could save $500,000, and Flippence said he did, and he would provide her with a copy.
 
Hines resident Brent Drury asked what the new town would be called, and Kay McKeever, also of Hines, asked what would happen to the post office. 
 
Morgan replied, “Just because it was brought up, does not mean it will be done.” She explained that consolidation would require “a lot of research.” She said, “Both cities will be doing research.”
 
Hines resident Sharon Voegtly said her father worked for the Edward Hines Lumber Company, and she was brought up to honor the city’s history. However, she said she is very much in favor of the the proposed consolidation, adding that it would save money and bring new business to Hines. 
 
Morgan encouraged those in attendance to attend Community Response Team meetings, which are held monthly at the Harney County Community Center, because new business topics are discussed during these meetings.
 
Diane Rapaport, also of Hines, said it would be important to look specifically at what improvements could be made and what could be accomplished if the cities were consolidated. She added that she has rarely seen money actually be saved in mergers. 
 
Rapaport asked, “What would we have with consolidation that we don’t have now?”
 
“That’s the reason we need the task force, so we can look at it,” Asmussen said.
 
Fred Hellbusch said, “I am 100 percent against consolidation. Burns is a hell hole anymore. I will do my damnedest to stop this consolidation.”
 
“We are not taking this lightly,” Morgan said. “If any citizen is interested in being on the committee, please let us know at city hall.” She also encouraged everyone in attendance to become a registered voter. “If this does go to ballot, that’s where it’s going to count,” she said. Morgan added that a survey would be sent out with the water bill.
 
Councilor Dick Baird said, “If we are going to form a steering committee, I think it’s very important we find an unbiased opinion.” He added that the committee (or task force) should be made up of people who are “interested in the betterment of the community.”
 
••• 
Ron Carroll attended to encourage Hines residents to join a neighborhood watch committee, which is operating in Burns.
 
Carroll provided a handout, which states, “A neighborhood watch is a crime prevention program. Most neighborhood crime prevention groups are organized around a block and can be assisted by law enforcement.”
 
“I’m sick and tired of hoodlums taking over our neighborhood,” Carroll said, explaining his motivation for eliciting involvement in the program.
 
Carroll said the neighborhood watch would involve Burns and Hines, and participants would meet the first Thursday of every month at 6 p.m. at the Burns City Hall.
 
“I would like to get a few of you or all of you involved,” he said.
 
Carroll said Burns Police Officer Newt Skunkcap attended the previous neighborhood watch meeting to provide information regarding what the program can and cannot do. 
 
Hines Police Chief Ryan DeLange said it’s important to know what to watch out for. He said the program “keeps prowlers and car break-ins down.” However, he said these programs often “fizzle out” due to lack of participation. “It’s a good program as long as you can keep people in it,” he said.
 
Morgan agreed, stating that the program is “really good,” but it requires “active participation.” She added that the program could also be used to “look out for your neighbors.”
 
Carroll agreed, stating, “Let us know if you go out of town, and we will patrol your home.”
 
Baird reminded those in attendance that installing outdoor lights is an inexpensive way to keep homes safer.
 
Herb Vloedman, an emergency medical technician at Harney District Hospital who attended as a member of the public, added that house numbers need to be visible.
 
“There comes a time when you want people to know where you are,” he said.
 
••• 
City Administrator Joan Davies led a discussion regarding the city’s livestock and dog ordinances. 
 
She said requests to keep chickens in city limits are increasing, but the city’s livestock ordinance does not include specifications regarding poultry or fowl. 
 
Davies suggested that the Hines Police Department issue permits to citizens to keep chickens. She said this way, if someone violates the conditions of his or her permit, the police department would be involved. 
 
Davies said she researched other city ordinances regarding chickens, and some were very specific about how and where chickens can be kept and housed. She said cleanliness and visibility from the road were among some of the specifications. She added that, in cities were permits are issued, the permits are typically valid for three years. 
 
Davies said, “Several of these cities refer to setbacks.” She explained that setbacks require owners to keep chickens 10 feet away from their own home and 25 feet away from their neighbors’ fences. 
 
A member of the public mentioned that roosters are “not quiet.”
 
Davies explained that the ordinance would specify that roosters would not be allowed. 
 
“What I’m kind of feelings out is six chickens with set backs,” Davies said. She suggested that there be no building regulations for chicken coops and that the chickens are not visible from the plane of the house. 
 
The council agreed to allow Davies to amend the ordinance with language from ordinances used in other cities, particularly the city of Lafayette.
 
Davies also suggested that the dog ordinance be amended to include a definition of “vicious” dogs. She also suggested that the “dangerous” dogs definition be changed to include dogs that are a danger to other animals. Davies reminded the council that state law mandates that these dogs be given away or destroyed.
 
Both ordinance amendments will be considered during the next meeting.
 
Morgan suggested that Police and Fire Commissioners Hilda Allison and John Mims “get with the police to see what can be done” regarding dog complaints.
 
She said Baker City, which is having similar problems with dog complaints, elected to double its dog ordinance violation fines. She said, although she is not advocating that fines be doubled, she would like to see the issue addressed. 
 
•••
The council also discussed the agreement between Burns and Hines concerning the joint lagoon.
 
Morgan explained that the two cities began working on the project in 1997, and a committee was to meet on a regular basis. The project was completed seven years ago, and the committee hasn’t met for several years. She suggested that Water and Sewer Commissioners Baird and Ron Williams contact the city of Burns to discuss re-activating the committee. 
 
•••
During the previous Hines City Council meeting (held Feb. 12) the council agreed to implement a 3-percent salary adjustment for all city employees, except for the city administrator and police chief. The council agreed to increase the police chief’s salary to $56,400 per year, but the city administrator’s salary was not addressed.
 
During the Feb. 26 meeting, Davies said she and the treasurer calculated the changes to budget lines required to implement these changes. She reported that only the water and sewer department will require funds to be moved.
 
Davies asked the council’s permission to round the adjusted salaries up to the nearest dollar, and the council agreed that this would be allowed.
 
The council then decided to increase the city administrator’s annual salary to $56,500, and add five vacation days (40 hours).
 
••• 
The city received three requests for stop sign placement.
 
The first was for a sign to be placed at the intersection of Tennyson and Roe Davis, as the extension of Tennyson is fairly new, and drivers coming from the Nazarene Church onto Roe Davis are not accustomed to traffic entering from the south on Tennyson. 
 
However, the intersection boarders the city boundary, so more research will be needed to determine which entity has jurisdiction. 
 
The second was for a sign to be placed at the intersection of Saginaw and Jamison. 
 
DeLange said, “We stopped quite a few cars there, but as soon as we leave, they are back to 30 or 40 miles per hour.” He added that an additional stop sign “would definitely slow high school kids down.”
 
Superintendent of Public Works Pedro Zabala said, “I think there are already enough stop signs. People just need to follow the law.”
 
The council decided to continue researching the matter. 
 
The third request was for a stop sign to be placed at the intersection of Woodland and Pettibone. 
 
The possibility of placing a three- or four-way stop at this intersection was discussed during the previous meeting. Zabala said these types of stops were not previously established because downhill traffic slides through the intersection when roads are icy.
 
During the Feb. 26 meeting, DeLange said establishing a three- or four-way stop at this intersection would be a “safety hazard.” He said, “We are going to have too many crashes if we put a stop sign there.”
 
Robert Paramore, who lives near the intersection, said, when weather is extreme, he circles around and comes home from the west because it is easier than coming up the hill. He said not having to stop on the side street makes it easier to back onto Pettibone. 
 
••• 
DeLange reported that the police department has been “hammered” with calls, including several domestic violence incidents and a burglary with a violent animal injury. 
 
He said dog complaints continue to be high, adding that dogs attacked and mutilated livestock.
 
He said Officer Casey Held is attending Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST), and he will graduate in June.
 
•••
Zabala said the maintenance crew has been working to remove roots from sewer lines and checking manholes. 
 
He added that the Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) have been completed, and a copy will be sent to consumers with their utility bills. CCR reports show the results of water testing.
 
•••
Fire Chief Bob Spence said there haven’t been any calls since the previous council meeting. 
 
He said he has been working to get bids on fire hall doors. During the previous meeting, Spence explained that the doors, which are operated by electricity, are difficult to open when the power goes out.
 
 Spence also reported that he, Assistant Chief Stuart Yekel, Capt. David Reiss and Lt. Jonathan Manski received their DPSST National Fire Protection Association Fire Fighter II certificates. He said Lt. Wayne DeLange would be getting his certificate within a week from the date of the meeting. They are now trained to the same level as any full-time municipal firefighter.
 
•••
Davies said she has continued to work with Harney County and the city of Burns to update the Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan, and she will be working with the League of Oregon Cities to track and respond to eight bills before the Legislature.
 
•••
In other business, the council:
 
• appointed Davies to be the budget officer;
 
• approved Resolution 2164 as read by Davies. The resolution moves $5,000 from the general fund to the state tax street fund, then transfers $10,000 from water and sewer contingency for changes in water and sewer salaries and benefits;
 
• was addressed by Mark Fine, a member of the public in attendance, regarding the use of four-wheeler ATVs on city streets. DeLange said citizens are typically allowed to use four-wheelers to plow snow from driveways. However, when Fine suggested that the city develop a designated route for four-wheelers with crossings along the state highway, Councilor Dick Anderson stated that crossing the state highway would never be allowed;
 
• continued its discussion regarding hanging banners to advertise city events along Highway 20 and possibly along city property between the highway and the golf course;
 
• learned that Councilor Tom Choate and his son will begin constructing four octogonal picnic tables for the city of Hines Pavilion;
 
• received a request from the Harney County Planning Department to remove county tax identification numbers from city-owned alleys, which have been incorrectly identified. Davies said a piece of county-owned land behind Country Seasons and Egan’s will eventually be transferred to the city, but it involves property that is currently being remediated from fuel contamination. The council agreed to remove the tax lot numbers from the alleys;
 
• was addressed by Vloedman regarding property tax rates;
 
• has raised $4,675.29 for its park beautification fund by collecting returnable cans and bottles. Morgan suggested that Parks and Streets Commissioners Choate and Anderson prioritize parks projects. She suggested that the commissioners consider making improvements to playground equipment and the restrooms at the main park. 
 
Davies reminded the council that she will be attending the Oregon Municipal Finance Officers Association conference March 12, which was the date of the next regularly scheduled council meeting. The council decided to cancel the March 12 meeting, and the next regularly scheduled meeting will be held March 26 at 6:30 p.m. at city hall. 
 


2 Responses to “Hines citizens offer opinions on consolidation proposal”

  1. Barbara Pearson Says:

    Regarding the merging of Burns/Hines city governments: While it appears good in theory, I wonder if it a merge does take place how long it will be when the citizens/voters are told that it would make sense to have a centralized location and a new city hall, police department headquarters and fire departments needs to be built? I hope all angles will be researched.

  2. Bart Lee May Says:

    The only problem with the idea of consolidating Burns and Hines is that is makes perfect sense. Then why not join the two? Because it involves change, and change is not a good thing, or so this seems to be the paradigm of many Harney Countians. Fearing change is part of the general paranoia inherent in living in isolation, something that comes with being forever adrift on a sea of sagebrush where the only voices heard are those of raving lunatics.

    So this consolidation, an idea which has been kicked around for decades, will never happen, and two pimples on the butt of progress will continue to waste tax dollars and duplicate efforts so there can be two mayors, two police chiefs, two fire departments, two street sweepers, on and on, while sidewalks crumble and people move to functioning cities like Boise and Bend.

    The progress-haters always seem to win in Harney County, like those who believe this is 1950 and cattle and timber are king, despite the obvious. The best thing that could happen is for both cities to go bankrupt and have the state takeover, which could happen if people keep moving away.


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