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Oakridge City Council regular meeting 4/20: More fee waivers and Mayor stands firm on appointment

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By PAUL SCOTT/for The Herald  —  While the weather left much to be desired, Thursdays meeting of the Oakridge City Council was handled with efficiency and cooperation.

The meeting opened with comments from Mayor Cutchen. The best news being a grant to Oakridge, secured by Representative Val Hoyle, for $2.75 million for local service upgrades.

Park fee waivers mounting up at City’s cost

Three events to be held at Greenwaters Park have asked for waivers of part, or all, of the park use fees.  The July 4th fireworks event and the Wildfire Safety Night received relief from the full cost of the user fee. The waiver was approved by majority vote of the council.  A later request for park fee relief was also made. A third new event, Go Beyond Racing, a long-distance running event has also asked for, and received, relief of park fees.

Fixed fees have long been established and it can be assumed it was an honest estimate of the extra cost to maintain our parks. Input from the public on the waiver of park fees issue would be valuable to all our council representatives.

Altemus-Pope briefs on improvements in quality of life around Oakridge/Westfir

Community activist, Sarah Altemus-Pope, gave a comprehensive report of safety issues that affect the Oakridge/Westfir areas.   The programs for providing clean air for our community have made great progress, helped by state funding for more efficient heating and cooling systems being distributed around the area. Adapting to climate change is a concern for local, state and federal agencies and Ms. Pope’s efforts have brought that value to our local community.

City Administrator James Cleavenger provided several updates of ongoing city projects.  These projects include transferring dispatch services to Junction City, WAC electrical panel bidding, WAC architect update, and Cedar Creek Fire after action reports. Mr. Cleavenger also requested help from the public on volunteer projects both in the city and the surrounding forest.

For the public’s benefit, reports from key public departments were given. Finance Report (Colleen Shirley), Police (Kevin Martin), Fire (Chief Hollet), and Public Works (Robert Chrisman & Rick Zylstra) all gave status reports.

Several new ordinances being brought forth by committees

Most public ordinances have a broad influence on our quality of life.  For this reason, communities often have several ‘readings’ of proposals that affect our lives. These readings of the ordinances before being adopted are leadership’s commitment to listen to the public.   The Herald encourages the public to take interest in their local political and administrative functions being open to the public they serve.

A stalemate at OEDAC appointment

The evening closed with the council position opening on the OEDAC committee still undecided . The council being deadlocked on who would serve from the city council. Again, Mayor Cutchen nominated Councilor Tarman to that committee. With no motion to the mayor’s nomination, the mayor closed the issue once again.

At this point, Councilor Kinyon asked that if the council voted against a nomination, couldn’t council then vote for another nomination? Mayor Cutchen reminded council that it’s the mayors responsibility to nominate. This is per the Oakridge City Charter. The council’s job is to confer. It is not required to have a council member on the board. However, it has been a common practice in recent years only.

Councilor Hollett broke into an argument stating that she felt it a “personal” matter that she was not allowed to be the OEDAC council representative.

” It’s not fair!” she was quoted as saying. After stating that she was not on any committees, the mayor reminded her that she was on several active committees. Councilor Hollett had also been nominated by the mayor to be on the library board, which she declined with no reason given.

OEADAC functions fine without council rep

When it was asked as to OEDAC not having a council representative, Mayor Cutchen announced that OEDAC had just convened a meeting a few days prior, and it was a very productive meeting. Moving forward, OEDAC will continue meeting without a specific council appointed representative.

During citizen comment, Ms. Altemus-Pope made it known that she felt OEDAC is best served by more citizen involvement. She feels that mixing politics into the committee could be more harmful than productive.

Ms. Carin Thompson addressed the concern that the City Council, in many meetings, has seemed to favor improvements to the Uptown district of Oakridge rather than considering the needs of the businesses along the highway.

Comments are closed.

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