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Oakridge City Council Meeting 5/4: Does Bjarnson not want to face her constituents?

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By GARY CARL/for The Herald  —  The meeting was called order by Mayor Bryan Cutchen and after the usual “Pledge of Allegiance” the Roll was called.  Councilor Melissa Bjarnson was present but not in person, rather, she was in attendance by Zoom (online).  It must be noted that Councilor Bjarnson has never attended a City Council meeting in person.

We can know that Councilor Bjarnson does leave her house occasionally because she and her entire family joined in the festivities at the “appreciation party” for the Council and volunteers held at the bowling alley last December that was paid for with $2,500 of your tax dollars.

If Councilor Bjarnson cannot hear…

Councilor Bjarnson’s perpetual absence is exacerbated by her inability to hear the council proceedings.  She frequently says: “I couldn’t hear that; would you repeat it”.  At one point, out of frustration, Councilor Kinyon said that she was unwilling to repeat her comments because it was slowing things down too much.

And now, councilors Hollett and Kinyon have asked the City Administrator to “look into” purchasing better microphones… presumably so that councilor Bjarnson can hear better while she participates online.  As a taxpayer and voter, I assume you won’t mind if your tax dollars are spent this way?  Of course, a simpler and less costly solution would be for Bjarnson to simply attend council meetings in person.

Bjarnson still a no-show, no-reason

During “Public Comment” the Highway 58 Herald asked Councilor Bjarnson to please tell us, for the record, why she did not attend council meetings in person? … Her response was “No” (she had nothing to say).  There may be a good reason for Councilor Bjarnson’s lack of attendance, but as of right now, we don’t know what it is.

 

During “Mayor Comments”, Mayor Cutchen announced that there is an effort to obtain funding to maintain the Oakridge Airport. The airport is essential in our community for firefighting as well as life flights.

Also, the fire department received a grant for a wildfire firefighting rig.

Emergency preparedness is critical to our area

Cutchen said they are working hard with the Community Preparedness Disaster Group.  Getting our citizens trained and knowledgeable on how to assist the incident management team should they need to come to town along with evacuations with the Sheriff’s office.  Cutchen said they are searching for funding to continue this work.  Anyone interested in participating should contact the City Administrator.

Council Business:

Rick Zylstra gave a brief report on the Storm Drain & Crosswalks Art Project.  About ½ the designs have been completed.  The next painting event is not scheduled at this time.

A request from OHS Senior Delaney Freeman, for a street closure on Thursday, June 8th for the “Senior Parade” was approved.

And this from Rick Zylstra, our City Community Development Director:

The Transportation and Growth Management (TGM) has completed Phase 1 of the City of Oakridge Code Evaluation Update.  This phase of the project is to make recommendations related to urban design, housing, green infrastructure and transportation policy and development requirements to help the City remove barriers to creating a vibrant, multimodal community.

The Council voted to approve the 1st reading of Resolution 09-2023 adopting the TGM Code Action Plan and supported moving to Phase 2 (Implementation).

Two councilors to spend time looking at Veneta

Councilor Hollett gave a presentation (with handout) regarding the Veneta Business Retention and Expansion Report.   Her report, which focused on the city of Veneta and their efforts to improve business, was for discussion only though Councilors Hollett, Kinyon and Bjarnson agreed to investigate the Veneta plan for possible application to Oakridge.

Repair of well number two requires additional funds

Our City Engineer, Ed Hodges of Curran-McLeod Engineering, Inc informed the Council that the Well #2 Refurbishment and Pump Replacement Project has gone over budget by $17,900 because of a lack of compatibility between the older existing with the new monitoring apparatus.  In order to proceed with the rest of the refurbishment project, a Change Order must be signed by the CA after the Council approves him to do so.  The Council voted unanimously to do so.

If you received a fee waiver, please step forward

Next, the Council voted to allow the CA to organize a Greenwaters Park Community Volunteer Clean-Up Day June 3rd.  Councilor Hollett said she thought that groups who had received park fee waivers for use of the park ought to volunteer with the clean-up effort.  Keep your fingers crossed on that one!

Concerts in the Park, the Oakridge Arts Council and the Uptown Business & Revitalization Association all submitted reimbursement requests through the Rural Tourism Marketing Program (RTMP) and all requests were granted.

The City of Oakridge owns the Willamette Activity Center (WAC).  The WAC has been inoperable in recent years due to the need for costly repairs.  The city has been working with local non-profit, South Willamette Solutions (SWS) to source funding to repair the building.

You can help determine what the renovated WAC will look like

While additional funding is needed to complete the repairs at the WAC, the City and SWS are considering how to involve the community in planning the design and future functions of the facility.  Trisha Maxfield of Consor Strategic Planning & Communications and a former Oakridge City Councilor proposed providing a community survey.  Funding for the survey would be provided from leftover funds from the $56,000 Oregon Community Foundation grant obtained by SWS for the initial feasibility study.  There would be no cost to the city for this community survey.

The Council approved unanimously the community outreach and engagement survey.

Gary Carl is a retired judge of the Lane County Justice Court. He currently lives with his partner, Lynda Kamerrer & their cat, Lucy. Gary can be reached at [email protected] Gary Carl photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

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