by Lindy Williams
The Hines Common Council met for their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, May 9, at 6:30 p.m. The council discussed implementing security cameras in Hines Park to deter vandalism to the bathrooms. They also further discussed citizens residing within commercially-zoned buildings.
City Administrator Judy Erwin reported on a meeting she’d attended on April 27 concerning a levee certification in Burns and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) floodplain mapping.
“All the entities in the county are continuing to fight the fight for residents in trying to get FEMA to come up with a more realistic floodplain mapping,” Erwin said.
Administrator Erwin stated that she’d met with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) director for the area to discuss the ongoing issues with the Taranna Mobile Home Park. Erwin reported that the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is sending a letter to the owner which states that he must clean up the property.
Erwin also stated that she had sent letters to the two residents who were occupying commercially zoned buildings. One applied for a conditional use permit with the planning commission, and the other met with Mayor Nikki Morgan, but that she had not yet received an application for that property.
Mayor Nikki Morgan reported on the variance application submitted to the planning commission. Morgan described the situation and all that the planning commission had done to survey the property.
“We think it’s a viable solution to this issue. There is nothing negative for the city to approve this. So the planning commission is recommending that we approve the variance for the setback,” Mayor Morgan stated.
The council approved the variance unanimously.
Police Chief Ryan DeLange reported that drug cases had gone up, mostly pertaining to meth, while the sex abuse and DUI cases were down.
“If the state decriminalizes meth, we’re in a lot of trouble. It’s getting out of hand now, to where we can barely even tackle it,” DeLange said.
He reported that the state of Oregon is attempting to reduce meth cases from a felony to a misdemeanor.
When asked by Councilor Diane Rapaport if there was anything that the council could do to persuade the state against decriminalizing meth, such as letters or statements that they were not in favor of the action, DeLange replied:
“Absolutely. Anything can help at this point. I understand their reasoning behind it: prison overcrowding. The majority of prisons are filled with sex abuse or dangerous drug cases. Their reasoning is that if we decriminalize it, then we won’t have so many people in prison. Well, by doing that, you’re just going to double the amount of users. It’s completely out of control.”
DeLange reported that the department had used a recent donation and a CIS grant to purchase four new body cameras and that they were very happy with the addition.
“They work great,” he said.
Administrator Erwin and Acting Maintenance Supervisor Jerry Lewellen reported that the Hines Park bathrooms had been vandalised the first week that they had been reopened. Because of recent vandalism, including breaking the toilets and filling the toilets with rocks, the council is going to be looking into installing a security system. Chief DeLange reported that, because of vandalism at Washington Park, the city of Burns is currently purchasing an expensive security camera system.
“It’s expensive, but it’s awesome. There’s no wires. You can monitor it on your computer, you can monitor it on your phone,” DeLange said. “Their city manager can actually watch video of that park at all times. It records at night, it’s got infrared.”
The council is planning on installing the cheaper monitoring system they already own while looking for a nicer, more modern, replacement option.
In other business, the council:
• heard a report from Fire Chief Bob Spence. In the last month, the fire department responded to eight 911 calls, conducted training with the Burns Fire Department, and is preparing for Obsidian Days;
• heard a report from Acting Maintenance Supervisor Lewellen. Lewellen stated that department had installed two new water service hookups. He also stated that the lagoons would need to be relined soon because of high water levels. He also reported that early weed spraying around the lagoons had been successful;
• approved a $125 donation to the Kiwanis fireworks fund;
• approved a $100 donation for Harney Partners for Kids;
• approved a $100 donation to the Ronald McDonald House;
• heard from Oster Professional Group concerning the auditor bid. The council will invite Millington Zwygart CPAs of Caldwell, Idaho, to speak at the next meeting;
• approved the final draft of the Master Water Plan;
• designated Erwin, Morgan, and Lewellen to attend the “One Stop Shop” on June 13, in Salem;
• discussed the Skate Park ownership and maintenance with Helen Patton;
• discussed using Hines Park as accommodations for the upcoming eclipse on Aug. 21;
• heard a question from Eldon Hart asking why there had been no free dumpsters in Hines for the spring cleanup day. Mayor Morgan responded that Hines has free dumpsters in the fall, not the spring;
• approved resolution 2226-A, a resolution transferring monies between objects of expenditure;
• approved resolution 2227, a resolution transferring monies between objects of expenditure.