Resident has concerns about unlicensed vehicles on streets
by Randy Parks
The Burns City Council once again has a vacancy.
At the council meeting Wednesday, July 9, Mayor Craig LaFollette acknowledged a letter of resignation from Councilor Boyce LaForest. LaForest’s letter cited time restraints and work load as reasons for stepping down from the council seat.
LaForest said he would continue to serve for a limited time until a replacement can be appointed to the council.
During the citizens concerns portion of the meeting, Steve Ruzicka approached the council regarding unlicensed vehicles on the streets. He stated that driving is a privilege, and requirements include an operator license, license plate and insurance.
Ruzicka told the council he recently completed a defensive driving class where he was told one in five drivers are under the influence of drugs, alcohol or prescription medicine, another 20 percent of drivers are distracted by talking on cell phones, texting, laptops, pets, eating, etc., and another 20 percent of those behind the wheel are sleep-deprived.
He explained that he drives for the local Dial-A-Ride program, and that he is responsible for his passengers. Along with having to deal with drivers under the influence, distracted and/or sleep-deprived drivers, there are a number of vehicles on the streets that create a hazard, such as riding lawn mowers, golf carts, off-road vehicles and an unlicensed scooter. Ruzicka stated the vehicles are not licensed to be on the streets, and the operators don’t follow the laws of the roads. He said he had come to the council previously with the same concerns, yet nothing has been done.
“People say, ‘It’s Burns.’ I don’t know what that means,” Ruzicka said. “We’re an orderly society. And some people ask, ‘What harm does it do?’ Ask the kid who was killed on the bicycle last year. Those vehicles are hazards.”
He also questioned why bicyclists aren’t required to follow the rules of the road.
Burns resident Ron Carroll told the council that he has a concern about vehicles speeding in his neighborhood. “I think kids want to see how fast they can go down the street,” he said.
Councilor Terri Presley agreed that unlicensed vehicles and speeding are valid concerns, and added that the police are already busy every day. She suggested that maybe citizens could help out by reporting incidents to the police when they see them.
Becky Cunningham told the council that Wayne Baron of 4R Recycling had recycling bins out on the street once again, and she gave the council a copy of a contract that she said Baron was providing to businesses.
Cunningham reminded the council that it had told Baron he was not allowed to place bins on the street to collect recycling material, yet he seemed to be operating without any regard to the council’s direction.
City Manager (CM) Kraig Cutsforth said he would check into the matter.
CM Cutsforth reported the well for the fire suppression system at Burns airport had been dug and was producing clean water at 85 gallons per minute. The water tank had also been filled for testing, and the outside shell of the tank was to be installed over the next week’s time. “The entire thing should work out well.” Cutsforth said.
The cleaning up of nuisance properties is continuing, and Cutsforth said he had two residents come by city hall to express their appreciation of the clean-up efforts.
Fire Chief Scott Williamson stated that about 35 letters had been sent out to property owners asking them to clean up hazardous vegetation, and the process seems to be working.
Cutsforth met with the Department of Environmental Quality on several subjects, and is continuing to work on the issue of particulate matter exceeding allowable levels in the Burns/Hines area.
In other business:
• the council approved a $100 donation to the Harney County Arts & Crafts Association in support of the annual Quilt and Art Show;
• Cheryl Hancock asked for permission to close West D Street between North Broadway and Alvord from 4 to 7 p.m. on Aug. 7 for a block party in front of the Harney County Library. The council approved the request;
• Councilor Presley asked the council for permission to bring in an outside contractor to look at the roof on city hall to see what could be done to stop the leaks. She stated that if the city could do some of the repairs, it would save some money, and the council agreed.
The next council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 23, at city hall.