Lara Petitclerc-Stokes, manager of communications and government affairs for Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative (OTEC), attended the Burns City Council meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 22, to give an update on recent OTEC activities in the county and to present a check to the city for the quarterly franchise fees.
Petitclerc-Stokes reported that for 2017, the OTEC budget includes $140,000 in system distribution improvements and $149,000 for transmission improvements.
For the fiscal year, which began on Jan. 1, OTEC has been making charitable contributions to the community totaling $450. The contributions were made to the Harney County Senior and Community Services Center, the Harney County Fair, and Xi Delta Gamma for their annual fundraiser.
Petitclerc-Stokes added that, in preparation to host the District 3 Little League Tournament, Harney County Little League asked for some help lighting the baseball complex. With the board’s approval, the local OTEC crew “stepped up to the plate” and volunteered their time over a weekend to set a transformer pole and bring an underground wire to the meter base. She noted that OTEC also replaced the lights for the rodeo during the Harney County Fair.
Petitclerc-Stokes told the council they are now accepting applications for the 2017 Peggi Timm Civic Leadership Award.
She explained that the award is presented to a woman who resides within the OTEC service area who most exemplifies Timm’s ceaseless spirit of volunteerism within her community. Timm was one of the original founders of OTEC.
OTEC will contribute $25,000 to a qualified 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization chosen by the recipient of the award. The award is funded through OTEC’s unclaimed capital credit account.
The winner of this year’s award will be announced at the OTEC annual meeting to be held April 29 in La Grande.
Petitclerc-Stokes also stated that the winners of the OTEC scholarships will be announced May 1.
The council was presented with the quarterly franchise check in the amount of $37,465.80.
Mayor Jerry Woodfin read a statement from City Manager (CM) Dauna Wensenk, who was out of town attending a conference, regarding a legal issue.
The statement read: “Following a nine-month investigation by officers of the U. S. General Services Administration, former airport manager Jeff Cotton was arrested Feb. 16, and charged on Feb. 17 in Eugene for nine counts of wire fraud and three counts of local government theft (federal).
“Jeff pled not guilty and will appear for court in April.”
A status conference is scheduled for April 10, and Cotton’s court appearance is scheduled for April 25.
In her written report to the council, CM Wensenk stated she was attending the Citycounty Insurance conference in Salem.
Wensenk attended a meeting on Feb. 14 to look at possible avenues to provide more housing in the community.
She also attended a meeting to discuss flood mitigation in the county. The county purchased 30,000 sandbags, and sand has been taken to the fairgrounds. The cities of Burns and Hines were each given 5,000 sandbags, and notices were to be distributed informing the public of both the sand and sandbags.
At one of the steering committee meetings regarding the Aug. 21 eclipse, the committee discussed where the people traveling through for the eclipse might stay, as the locals motels are filling up. It was suggested that the travelers could stay at one of the local parks. Wensenk suggested Memorial Field for campers so that Triangle Park could be used for those who are just passing through.
The council agreed by consensus that Memorial Park could be used by campers in town for the eclipse.
In other business:
• Burns Fire Chief Scott Williamson reported that his department had been attending training sessions, and they are planning a full-scale training exercise involving a semi-truck rollover in June;
• Councilor Terri Presley told the council that if no one else wanted to step forward to chair the cemetery committee, she would volunteer for the position. Woodfin then appointed Presley to the position.
The next council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 8, at city hall.