Communities, Front Page, Oakridge/Westfir

Oakridge City Council discusses renovation estimates of council chambers with hopes of transitioning to hybrid sessions

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Oakridge City Hall Herald Photo

April 21, 2022

By ELLA BROWN/Correspondent/The Herald  –  The Oakridge City Council met Thursday night to discuss renovations of the council chambers in city hall with hopes of moving towards a hybrid meeting session, offering more involvement for community members at council meetings.

Mayor Christina Hollett said renovations of the council chambers in city hall will include a fresh coat of paint, the reorganization of furniture, a deep cleaning, a new staff desk, and possibly some police security at future meetings.

Cottage grove’s council chambers evaluated

Mayor Hollett and interim city administrator Kevin Cronin visited the Cottage Grove council chambers last week and were inspired by how nicely the room was set up. “I want to say he [Cottage Grove Mayor Jeff Gowing] said he spent under $15,000 to get it set up,” said Mayor Hollett.

As well as cleaning and organizing the council chambers for use, the councilors voted unanimously to purchase a new camera and a couple of TVs for the room. The funds will be coming out of this current year’s budget.

“The hopes are to have one TV that would be accessible to staff to easily throw up their presentations, any type of presentations that they want to put up there so that everybody can see it and we don’t have to pass out a ton of paper,” said Mayor Hollett.

Mayor Hollett said that once the new camera and TV screens are installed, they plan to get the city council meetings back into the council chambers for their usual council meetings as soon as possible.

The meeting will be held in a hybrid fashion, with both an in-person and Zoom option available for citizens.

Ongoing Discussions about WAC Renovation

The city council moved to authorize funding and restoration support of Oakridge’s beloved Willamette Activity Center (WAC) back on March 17th. Vendors have since vacated the building and cost estimates have begun.

Cronin discussed the finances regarding the planned restoration of the WAC and has begun working on finding and budgeting the money for the coming fiscal year. “The money for this would be coming out of next year’s budget. It would not hit this year’s budget,” said Cronin.

Excavator Bids

Robeart Chrisman of the Public Works Department spoke at the meeting with the hopes of purchasing a new excavator –construction equipment that is often used for digging holes and foundations– on behalf of Oakridge Fire and EMS to replace one that is over 20 years old and in poor condition.

Chrisman included three different bids from Papé, CAT, and Sonsray Machinery. The Sonsray is Chrisman’s preferred brand with a price tag of $208,299. However, this would exceeds the pre-approved $200,000 budget.

Chrisman argued that a new excavator would be a good investment for the City of Oakridge. It would give the Public Works Department the ability to do projects in-house which would save money in the long run. “It is much cheaper to do it [projects] in-house if we own the equipment,” said Chrisman.









 Ella Brown is a Junior at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication

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