Communities, Front Page, Oakridge/Westfir

Citizens salute former Navy officer for service as Oakridge city administrator during council meeting

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Bryan Cutchen and his wife Sissy aren’t going anywhere after his City Hall gig ends. They own a house and say they plan to remain in Oakridge. Doug Bates/The Herald

By DEAN REA/Editor/The Herald — A number of “thank you’s” were voiced for the service of Bryan Cutchen as the city administrator during Thursday night’s Oakridge City Council meeting.

Meanwhile, his replacement is expected to be selected in a special council meeting as early as Monday or Tuesday, Mayor Christina Hollett said during an interview after the council meeting. Candidates for the temporary position were interviewed Thursday and another executive session is scheduled at 6 p.m. today (Friday).

Five people applied for the job, including Oakridge police officer James Cleavenger and Paula Brown, a consultant who lives in Westfir.

Cutchen, a retired Navy rear admiral, became the city’s chief executive officer on July 15, 2019, and resigned effective Feb. 28, citing what he called a working relationship with the council that lacked “trust and respect.”

A card for “outstanding service” was presented on behalf “of people who could not be here” by Gary Carl.

“Bryan has been a shining star,” said Trudy Hammond.

Council members Audy Spliethof and Bobbie Whitney joined chorus, and Sarah Altemus-Pope voiced the final salute as the meeting ended.

Cutchen has concentrated on ways to bridge a budget deficit to continue providing public safety services. A public-safety fee was initiated in December to help bridge the financial gap.

Cutchen spent 14 minutes reviewing the responsibilities, including tending 11 grants, that his successor will inherit.

The council authorized spending grant money for two projects: $100,000 to improve six manholes to prevent excessive infiltration and outflow in the wastewater treatment cycle and for audio equipment to enhance communication when the council returns to in-person meetings with public access via Zoom.

The expenditures will be from a $374,000 American Rescue Plan grant the city received to help solve community problems created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Oakridge will receive another grant of this amount next year.

Previously, $100,000 was earmarked for COVID-19 related ambulance transport costs and $30,275 for food assistance.

The action followed a council work session on the rescue plan, which council members suggested might be the topic of discussion during a future public forum.

After thanking Cutchen for his service, Carl said: “You don’t miss water until the well goes dry.”

However, Cutchen and his wife Sissy aren’t going anywhere after his City Hall gig ends. They own a house and say they plan to remain in Oakridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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