by Lindy Williams
On Tuesday, Nov. 14, the Hines Common Council met for its regularly scheduled meeting.
The council was scheduled to vote on a water rate option to complete the water rate study. However, the vote was tabled until the next meeting so that the councilors could research the five options more thoroughly.
Mayor Nikki Morgan reported that City Administrator Judy Erwin and Brandon Mahon of Anderson Perry & Associates were both diligently searching for grants to defray the costs of the upcoming water project.
Mayor Morgan again encouraged residents to bring their water bills to Hines City Hall to be input in the spreadsheet that will predict their new potential water costs.
Police Chief Ryan DeLange reported that the new patrol vehicle was working well, and Officer Marc Novak was using it to stop and ticket numerous vehicles. In the six days that Officer Novak used the vehicle, he stopped 47 cars, wrote 17 tickets, and made a DUI arrest.
Councilor Ron Williams asked whether any of the tickets were issued for cellphone usage, and DeLange responded that at least three of the stops were teens using their cellphones while driving.
DeLange also reported that there was a suspicious death that required the Oregon State Police Mobile and Forensic Lab and Harney County Major Crimes Team.
The Harney County Major Crimes Team is composed of the Burns Police Department, the Hines Police Department, the Harney County Sheriff’s Office, the Oregon State Police, and the Harney County District Attorney’s Office.
“I won’t go into detail about it because it’s still an ongoing investigation, but a lot of man hours have been put into it. They’re going to have to go to grand jury, and forensic evidence still has to come back on it,” DeLange stated.
Delange also noted that, “Officer Ellis is going to start grand jurying all of our sex abuse cases that she’s had in the last year or so, including a couple of drug cases that she got.”
Acting Maintenance Supervisor Jerry Lewellen reported that his computer quit working, and the hard drive was lost. The computer had been used to monitor the pumps, but the department was manually monitoring the pumps until the computer was fixed.
It was suggested to Lewellen that the program used to monitor the pumps be upgraded, as it was severely outdated.
Lewellen also reported that his department had been busy picking up leaves, winterizing sprinkler systems in the park, and readying the snow plows. The department is also assisting in locating power poles that need to be replaced.
Lewellen and Mayor Morgan also discussed the continued waterline and pump issues that the department has been called to fix.
“It’s just old, old pipe,” Lewellen stated, in response to a question from Councilor Williams about the cause of the breaks.
They also discussed a recently discovered waterline that doesn’t exist on any of the city’s water maps, but sprung a leak when it was accidentally dug up. Lewellen stated that the pipe was in good shape and didn’t appear to have been there for very long. He is working to find out where the pipe connects to the main system and who installed it.
“I guess maybe it was a good thing it leaked, because now you know it’s there,” Mayor Morgan stated.
To finish his report, Lewellen stated that the Oregon Water Resources Department tested Well #4 and hit groundwater at 17 feet.
In other business, the council:
• heard a report from Fire Chief Bob Spence who stated that the department received four 911 calls since the last meeting, including two accidental calls and one vehicle accident. He said there was also an arson fire at the Sagehen rest stop, and those responsible brought materials to light the fire. They started the fire in the toilet paper dispensers of the women’s bathroom. Luckily, Spence said there wasn’t much to burn in the rest stop, so the smoke was more damaging than the fire.
Spence also noted that he worked closely with the contractor of Grocery Outlet to ensure their water systems were on schedule and in place;
• approved a business license application for a snow plowing business, J Bar S Inc;
• approved a business license application for Oregon Good Eats LLC;
• approved a business license application for the marijuana dispensary, High Root Organics;
• approved a business license application for Dog and Cat Grooming by Jessica;
• voted to uphold the Hines Planning Commission’s denial of a variance for Phillip Sitz;
• approved the annual $30 beef certificate for city employees;
• approved a $150 donation request from the Harney County Senior Center. The donation will sponsor a meal entrée;
• approved a donation request for $100 from Dustin Beers for an Operation Christmas parade float;
• approved Resolution 2231 — a resolution designating streets that qualify for an allocation of funds from the state;
• approved Resolution 2232 — a resolution accepting certain identified unanticipated revenue and authorizing its expenditure.
The Hines Common Council meets the second Tuesday of every month. The council’s next meeting will be held Tuesday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m.