Council approves purchase of sewer vacuum

by Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

Triangle Park (Davidson Park) in Burns will soon be sporting a new chain link fence.

At its meeting on Wednesday, July 24, the Burns City Council approved a bid from Parr Lumber for a four-foot fence to go around the park.

The existing fence at the park will be removed.

The city received two bids for the fence, the one from Parr in the amount of $7,200 and the other from Pacific Fence & Wire Co. in Clackamas for $5,989. The bid from Pacific did not meet the specifications, however, and the bid was awarded to Parr Lumber.

Funding for the fence will come out of $10,000 the city received from the Harney County Court earlier in the year.

Public Works Director Dave Cullens reported to the council that he had found a 2001 sewer vacuum truck for $80,000 to replace the sewer jet the city currently uses on plugged sewers. Cullens said the truck had been fully reconditioned and “is in pretty good shape.” Cullens added that the equipment the city uses now is obsolete, and if it should break down, there are no parts available to repair it.

Mayor Craig LaFollette asked how often they have to clean a sewer line, and Cullens answered it was at least two to three times per month.

LaFollette then asked if public works was called out for a plugged sewer and the current equipment broke down, what options would the city have?

Cullens said they would have to call somebody else in to do the work, and it would be fairly expensive.

“And in the meantime, people would have sewage backing up in their homes,” added Councilor Terri Presley.

The council approved the purchase of the sewer vacuum truck for $80,000.

The council approved Resolution No. 13-575, authorizing the second payment on the loan used for the purchase of a new street sweeper for the city.

Later in the meeting, Councilor Dan Hoke stated that the city is still using the new sweeper in Hines, and he asked what sort of agreement had been worked out with the them for using the sweeper. “Are we charging them?” asked Hoke.

Cullens said the city of Hines was continuing to purchase a set of new brooms for the sweeper, a cost of about $400. “They’ve been doing that for a long time,” Cullens said.

“That’s trivial for the amount we spent on the sweeper,” Councilor Linc Reed-Nickerson stated. “I want a spirit of cooperation between the two cities, but we should see more than a set of brushes.”

It was pointed out that a member of the Burns maintenance crew is also on the sweeper when it is in Hines.

The council asked City Manager (CM) Don Munkers to do a cost analysis on what it costs Burns for the time the sweeper is in Hines, and bring it back to the council.


CM Munkers covered a number of topics in is report to the council.


He stated that the city is continuing to work on the flood plain and flood insurance issues, and representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had cancelled out of a scheduled meeting. Munkers said they are moving forward on getting a grant to pay for new hydrological studies in the area, adding that the information currently being used is “ancient,” and any new data would be better.

The city will also be visiting with U.S. Representative Greg Walden about the issue the first part of August.

Munkers met with State Representative Cliff Bentz July 17, with the main emphasis of the conversation focusing on how to get people passing through to stop and enjoy the area. A scenic vista area was discussed so people could view the Harney Basin, as well as signs of some sort to help downtown businesses.

The city completed a contract for the cemetery caretaker and was just waiting for him to sign and return it.

Munkers reported he had conducted interviews for the airport manager position, and the next step in the hiring process was background checks.

The council discussed how best to advertise for the CM position, as Munkers will be stepping down from the position at the end of December. Munkers checked with the League of Oregon Cities (LOC). The city can place an ad with them at a cost of $20 a month.

After some discussion, the council agreed to advertise for the position with LOC, the Burns Times-Herald, the Oregon Employment Department and on their website.

The council was presented with a Google Earth photo showing a number of buildings and fences had encroached on the North Hemlock Street right-of-way, and residents were not paying taxes on that property.

The council discussed what options they could take to address the issue, including telling residents a street would be going in, asking residents to attend a council meeting to request a vacation of the street, or telling residents they would have to move their buildings and fences.

Mayor LaFollette stated that North Hemlock is not the only area in town where this has occurred, and felt it was necessary to come up with a complete list to look at.
Cullens concurred, pointing out a number of city blocks where residents have encroached on the city right-of-way.

“We need to have personal property moved off of these areas for access, just in case a street does go in. It’s a right-of-way,” Councilor Presley said.  “I’m not picking on North Hemlock. I just notice it more because I live in the area.”

The council will continue to look for a solution.

In other business, the council:

• acknowledged a letter from Councilor Laura Nichols informing the council she was resigning from the council, effective the end of August;

• approved a motion to require a permit for events at the airport. CM Munkers said the permit would be similar to permits to those required for events at the city parks, including an application fee and security deposit;

• approved a motion to draft an ordinance allowing the council to meet once a month with the option of adding additional meetings if necessary;

• approved the low bid from Palmer Excavation for water line work in the North Fairview area in the amount of $72,915;

• approved Resolution No. 13-574, allowing the city to apply for an Oregon Department of Transportation grant that would be used for a new overlay on North Egan from the stoplight to Adams Street;

• appointed Presley to the Burns Planning Commission.

The next council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14, at city hall.

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