Council Meeting Tuesday Night
Council will hold its 3rd scheduled meeting on April 28 at 6 pm.
Conference Calls with Governor
Governor Brown has joined two conference calls with City Officials this week presenting the strategy for opening Oregon business back up. This is a measured approach and it at least gives us a light at the end of the tunnel. We had discussions with our partners at the County about this path forward and we are still working together.
We have been working hand in hand with Andrea Testi and the Small Business Development Center. We have come up with a structure and tactic for how we work together on getting our local economy assistance. We have already begun the outreach to our local businesses. The SBDC is helping people fill out paperwork for loan and other government programs and will be really helpful for the next round of the Payroll Protection Funding just approved on Friday. We are taking a very proactive approach to help the local economy recover.
We have been discussing with the county the idea for the COVID Recover Coordinator. Talks are ongoing with County Leadership. Representative Mark Owens, and Senator Findley supported the idea as well as Malheur County Economic Development. Local business owner Bill Johnson helped us outline the role ofthis position, which is to work at a state and federal level to acquire any future programmatic or infrastructure stimulus funds for our community
Revolving Business Loan Fund – The Business Loan Fund Board met last week and I believe it was Councilor Braden that proposed a micro-loan program of $5,000 for COVID response at a very low interest rate. Dan Cummings put together a proposal to take to the City Council.
Reimbursement – Our safety team under the work of Veronica and Peter was able to get a reimbursement from SAIF, our risk manager for over $3,000 in costs related to protecting our staff from COVID-19. Way to go!
The Malheur Enterprise interviewed me about the COVID-19 response coordination activities. I talked to him about the project list the City Council had me put together for the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Plan with GEODC. These are projects ready to go if we get an infrastructure bill. We are in a good spot should we have an infrastructure bill come through.
Hospitals will be allowed to resume elective procedures which is how they make their books balance. That’s really important for the financial solvency of our healthcare system.
Water Trail – Last week I shared that Public Works had some time to get out and clear the trail head. Here are a few pictures I took this week when I went out to have a look. I think our community will really like having this new amenity.
Saturday Market – The organizers of the Saturday market sent me a well-thought out plan for hosting it this year. All of it is dependent upon what the state allows, but they are thinking through the range of restrictions they may have to follow.
Budget – The City Council wrapped up the budget in April, two months before the end of the year. This is a trait of resilient communities. The Budget Committee did a fantastic job, particularly before the pandemic started.
Homeless Shelter – We are going to meet with an evaluation team with all the stake holders, including property owners and businesses, staff, and providers. We must take in all the information and then process it. We will talk about other potential alternatives and then bring our evaluation of the project back to the City Council.
Treasure Valley Connector Trail - The trail is looking awesome! They believe they will be able to pave this week, then put in benches, dog bag stands, and trash receptacles and wrap it up.
Tater Tots Trail – We had some communication with Kraft Heinz this week. They are finalizing the agreement for the street vacations between them and Americold so Dan can go forward with the land action.
Graduation Ceremony – We worked a little bit with the school for a non-traditional graduation ceremony. The school districts are really thinking out of the box and responding well to a huge challenge. As someone with 4 kids still in the system, I can attest to that.
Springtime work continues at the airport with irrigation, mowing, rodent control, and weed abatement. Nearly 40 acres have been dressed and cleaned making it easier for the mower this year. There are nearly 40 more acres to go to finish the east side.
FAA Funding is still on track for the continuous improvement plan projects. Additional COAR grant funding will be sought in May.
The April Airport Committee meeting has been canceled due to continued COVID-19 restrictions from the State. Updates from the Airport Manager to the Airport Committee are taking place as are necessary to keep members informed.
Community & Economic Development
Staff is reviewing 12 building applications this week and has issued 4 building permits this past week. Review time has extended a little bit due to limited office time with customers.
The Planning department is keeping extremely busy and continues to work on the 17 new land use actions and has started the process of the street vacation which is part of the Heinz Food and City River Trail Project (Tater Tot Trail).
Dan is continuing to work on amending Ontario Flood Plain Code (10A-47) to meet the new Oregon Model Code and federal regulations (FEMA) and should have it on the planning agenda for June.
4/14 Staff attended the city ICS COVID-19 teleconference meeting. 4/16 City staff participated in the Malheur County ICS MAC COVID-19 teleconference meeting. 4/21 Chief attended a virtual with International Fire Chiefs on COVID-19. Some of the staff attended the City ICS weekly planning meeting for COVID-19 preparing for the state 3 phase plan to move forward. 4/23 Some of the staff attended the Malheur County COVID-19 Multi-agency planning group meeting.
Fire and building officials did a final inspection at Wal-Mart on the pickup shopping remodel. They also did a rough inspection on the fire sprinklers in the old area of the technical center remodel. 4/21 Chief and the building officials met with the contractor to talk about the fire sprinkler supply line and its installation.
The staff trained on wildland urban interface on the computer distance learning model. Chief also participated in two teleconferences on disaster preparedness and crisis care guidance. 4/21 Chief attended a fire engineering class on interior fire attack. 4/21 The staff had a review on department SOP’s and fire scenarios. 4/24 Some of the staff attended the Oregon virtual medical conference.
This week was Public Safety Answering Point or 911 Dispatchers appreciation week. The department thanked them with a healthy plate of fruit and posts on our Facebook page. Thank you for always having our backs.
This week the staff responded to a couple of false alarms and a controlled burn. 4/14 They also responded to numerous grass fires that had been started by the train along the tracks near Lincoln and Railroad Blvd. 4/17 The staff responded to a working structure fire with smoke coming out of the attic of a four-plex. The fire was contained to the attic area above one of the unit’s bathroom. Incidents: 4/19 The staff responded to mutual aid Vale Fire at a large onion shed fire. 4/20 Rescue 1 responded to a tragic machinery accident that had a fatal result. 4/21 The morning started with large amounts of sparks that were like fireworks, at the Auto Ranch Ford on SW 4th Ave from the main power supply shorting out against the building. This burned part of the roofing and insulation. 4/23 R1 responded to an illegal burn on Arata Way and the fire was then extinguished. 4/23 The staff responded to a fully involved house fire at 728 River St. This was a house that has been abandoned for over 15 years. The goal was to protect exposures.
Apr 20th- Chief Romero met with some community partners who are assisting the chief with a construction project at the OPD training center (range). Through donations and in-kind contribution, the chief hopes to install an ADA approved ramp and steps for the classroom building at the firing range. OPD hopes to develop the facility as a regional training center for our area law enforcement agencies. Project start date will be early May 2020.
Apr 22nd- Chief Romero attended the COVID-19 testing planning session with the County Health Department at Ontario High School. OPD will support the County Health Department’s initiative in any way possible.
Apr 22nd- Chief Romero finalized a new abatement “Violation Notice” card that will be issued by OPD to individuals who violate the noise control disorderly conduct laws. Chief Romero hopes this new public information tool will reduce the amount of recurring calls OPD responds to regarding unreasonable noise (music, engine revving, etc.). The card was reviewed by the City Manager and City Attorney for use approval.
This week, OPD conducted final interviews and written testing for the soon to be second detective position. All candidates completed the two phases of testing. Selection for the next detective will likely be done in the first week of May 2020.
This week, OPD started with a traffic enforcement saturation on the east side of town. The weekend shift focus was on speeding vehicles on East Idaho Avenue and seatbelt violations. OPD made numerous positive contacts which hopefully will reduce collisions and increase traffic safety in the busier part of the city.
Apr 20th- Chief Romero assisted OPD officers with an investigation and arrest of a child pornography suspect. OPD is committed to keeping the youth population safe from these types of sexual predators. The case was submitted to the District Attorney.
Apr 21st- OPD was involved in a pursuit of a subject that was driving extremely recklessly throughout the city limits. The suspect was chased to the Idaho border in Payette, where he intentionally drove into the Snake River as a failed suicide attempt. Suspect was arrested by Payette Police and will eventually be charged in Oregon for various crimes.
Apr 24th- Chief Romero assisted Detective Esplin with a Spanish interview of a witness at the Nampa Police Department regarding a 2018 homicide case. This case is being prepared for trial, which should take place in June 2020.
Code enforcement remained busy this week with a variety of activities. A slight increase in dog related calls and pickups of at-large dogs.
Apr 20th- Code enforcement, through the Chief of Police, provided a press release to the Argus Observer on an animal abandonment investigation the previous week. Code Enforcement, with the help of a tip from a citizen, were able to track down the suspect who abandoned a dog on the street. The suspect was cited and will have to appear in court for the crime.
Apr 22nd- Code Enforcement Officers responded regarding bees in the roadway. Bees were retrieved by a beekeeper without incident. Code Enforcement Officers assisted with traffic control, to prevent bees being killed by traffic or stinging pedestrians.
Apr 23rd- Two separate incidents of dogs attacking officers. A German Shepherd attempted to attack Officer Reyna and OC was deployed. The owner was contacted and cited for dog at large and dog as public nuisance. Later, two dogs got into a neighbor’s yard and charged at officers and attempted to attack. OC was deployed in this incident to prevent injury to officers.
Apr 23rd- Code Enforcement Officers did a NW Quadrant Saturation, hitting the streets of NW 2nd St and NW 3rd Street. This generated almost 40 cases and nearly 40 courtesy letters to residents for property abatement related violations.
We have changed schedules for all crews in response the COVID-19 response, as much work is being done remotely and other operations are being modified to limit exposure to those that must be in the field. Weekly checks on staff and operations related to the pandemic are in place.
Parks and Cemeteries
Each week, City Manager Adam Brown brings you up to date on the comings and goings of the City of Ontario in The Weekend Update.