The fires across the state have burned over 1.1 million acres. I’m just grateful that we haven’t had to deal with that in addition to COVID-19.
COVID – We got our phase 3 funding out for businesses. Please check our website and forward people who could use this funding to the website. The Small Business Development Administration is willing to help businesses with the paperwork. If it looks confusing, ask for help or apply and we will help them through the issues.
Cases are still high at over 100 new cases a week. Peter has been working with the county on messaging to the public. It sounds like a vaccine is close to being developed but there are mixed indications about when they will be done.
SRCI – We spent a lot of time building, refining, and discussing the financial model for the Rural Fire Department services with the city and SRCI. We accomplished proving that the number had to go up.
Laxson Park – The walking trail at Laxson park was paved this week. It looks really nice. I drove by last night and saw an elderly couple walking on it holding hands. I tried to get a picture, but they broke off and went to their home. Here’s a shot of the new trail though. This was made possible by our park match program.
ICMA Conference – Next week is the ICMA Conference, which will be virtual. This means that I will be in conference sessions Wednesday through Friday.
Airport Planning Grant - I spent some time working on the airport planning grant for the border board.
Homelessness – Several members of Council have expressed concern about the homeless in our community. I am participating in a workshop about case law and solutions for homeless persons in the community. The first session was primarily the legal framework, the session next week will be on solutions.
Grant Writing - I met with Merchant McIntyre twice this week to work on grant applications. Engineering is putting together their part and I have to contact some businesses to get letters of support for job retention and expansion.
Downtown Scaping - We met with Andrews Seed to talk about the trial planting in one of the bulb-outs. We are going to see if the plantings can survive with the water schedule we are currently on. We don’t want to do the whole downtown without knowing if it’s going to work. Public Works staff met with us and we talked about the care for the planters that should help us next year.
Leadership Team – Our staff leadership team met this week and focused on two things. First was which service provider we would use for automation of services online. We have come to a decision and will be bringing that to Council on October 8. The second item was to work on the Coronavirus Relief Fund Budget that was presented to council on Tuesday. To prepare for that, I spent time communicating with our other community organizations to address their needs. We will need to be flexible if we see certain activities are not being funded and other needs appear more important.
Sept 16th- Chief Romero attended the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run Charity Golf Tournament planning meeting. Chief Romero would like to invite community members to come out to the Scotch Pines Golf Course in Payette, Idaho for a community building, social distanced designed event. The event is Saturday October 3rd, 2020, with registration beginning at 7:30 am. Flyer will be posted on OPD Facebook.
Sept 16th- Chief Romero conducted a safety inspection and walk thru of the Ontario and Payette Boys and Girls Club houses at the request of the BGC CEO and staff. The inspection is part of the Chief’s plan to assist local businesses with the creation of safer working environments through the concept of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED).
Sept 17th- Chief Romero began a comprehensive review of the department’s current use of force policy and practices in order to assess its applicability with the recently proposed “8 can’t wait” national campaign for police use of force policies and practices. Chief Romero is determined to have the best trained (most modern) and proficient (skilled) police agency in the state, in the area of use of force.
Sept 18th- Chief Romero met with Snake River Correctional Institution Superintendent Brad Cain to discuss the current state of prison operations and professional partnership opportunities between the two agencies.
It was a very busy week for the OPD team.
Sept 14th- OPD assisted the fire department with evacuation efforts at the scene of a residential fire in the 900 block of NW 4th Ave.
Sept 15th- OPD assisted the fire department with a suspected arson case near the bottle drop center on NE Goodfellow St. Two shopping carts and their contents were lit on fire but no damage was reported to any nearby structures. Case is under investigation.
Sept 15th- OPD responded to a shots fired call in the 100 block of NE 3rd St. An adult suspect was identified and arrested for shooting at several victims. All parties are believed to be associates and no threat to general public was identified.
Sept 17th- OPD responded to 2 different calls for individuals exhibiting mental illness and very bizarre behavior. Both incident the individuals posed a threat to the community and in one incident a threat to officers as well. Both were forcefully detained and taken to the hospital for emergency psychiatric care. Incidents involving drug addicted, mentally ill, individuals remain steady within the city limits.
Sept 17th-OPD provided an agency assist to the Malheur County Sheriff’s Office regarding a shots fired call just outside the city limits. OPD officers located the suspect as he fled the area and made the arrest of the suspect. OPD assisted MCSO with putting all the pieces together for the investigation and expect to file charges against the involved parties. Case continues to develop.
Code enforcement officer Brockett spent the week preparing for abatement administrative reviews and proceedings. OPD is looking to procure a second administrative hearing officer to add to the efficiency of the process.
CEO assisted with caring for two dogs-at-large and assisted OPD officers with several vagrancy related calls this week.
Audio Visual - We had another bidder come look at the Council Chambers for the AV upgrade. I’m expecting a bid from them soon.
SRCI & Protection District – I spent a good amount of the time working with the State’s economist on a financial forecast. We spent Wednesday in mediation. We met again on Friday and the state said they want to work with me on the cost model.
I will be working with the state hired economist over the next week and we will be back in mediation on Friday.
LOCAL Boots on the Ground – Our local recovery team met and continued to talk about helping our businesses.
9/11 - We had a very nice service for 9/11 working with the American Legion. The Legion presented a very nice flag to the City for first responders.
After an inspection of the airport following the high winds Monday, only one hangar had minor damage and no aircraft were damaged.
Two meetings have been set up for next week to discuss fueling regulations at the airport and chemical applicator practices. Bringing both sides together to look for a solution should bring about a best practice for the city’s airport to follow in the future.
Positive comments were made by those who used the grass runway over the weekend.
Two additional SEAT firefighting planes came in from South Dakota today to help battle wildfires.
Fire & Rescue
This week seemed like one big meeting. Due to the fires in our state the Oregon State Fire Marshal hosted meetings every day that Chief Leighton participated in as the Fire Defense Board Chief for Malheur County. There were also mediation meetings and conference calls with the financial advisors for the state in dealing with the contract for SRCI. The Rural Fire District board also had a meeting that staff attended.
The staff was supposed to have our annual fire department family BBQ but due to Covid-19 guidelines, we cancelled the event and then held our circuit drills we have been having for the past few months.
This was a busy week for our staff. We had a few illegal burns and multiple grass fires. 9/6 Rescue 1 responded to a carbon monoxide alarm and monitored for elevated levels but did not find any. The staff also responded to a house fire in New Plymouth and assisted with salvage and overhaul. The crew also responded to a grass fire on I-84. 9/7 The windstorm we had caused some downed power lines and a large fire incident we aided Parma Fire on. 9/8 Rescue 1 responded to a truck hauling hay on I-84 where the bales caught on fire. The crews have responded Tuesday and Wednesday to fight wildland fires and provide structure protection at the large fire north of Cambridge ID. 9/10 157, the rural brush engine responded to mutual aid for Vale Fire for a grass fire.
Aug 31st-Chief Romero developed a new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for OPD’s “Major Crime Team” response procedures. The purpose of the SOP is to develop an effective and efficient multi-agency response plan for major crime incidents. OPD has a history of working well with the local area law enforcement agencies.
Sept 9th- Chief Romero coordinated a promotional video for the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run for Idaho-eastern Oregon. The video promotion included representatives from Idaho State Police, Oregon State Police, Ontario Police, Malheur County Sheriff’s Office, and the Malheur County District Attorney’s Office. Local law enforcement pledged full support for our areas special Olympians. Great partnership by all that participated.
Sept 1st- OPD responded to St. Alphonsus Hospital regarding an individual who was bloody and creating a disturbance inside the facility. The subject turned out to be an adult with mental illness who had forcefully removed an IV from his arm. Medical staff was able to care for the individual after he was spoken to and persuaded to continue his medical treatment.
Sept 4th- OPD pursued a vehicle that eventually crashed near the airport. After a brief foot pursuit through the shooting range, two suspects were apprehended. The two suspects were arrested for outstanding warrants and were found to be in possession of AR-15 ammunition. Vehicle is suspected of transporting illicit drugs as well.
Sept 6th-OPD responded to a shooting at the Motel 6. OPD contacted a shooting victim who was not cooperative and was suspected of illegal activity. This incident is an active investigation. No arrests have been made as of this date.
Sept 11th-OPD responded to the Best Western Hotel regarding a female who was damaging a room and causing a disturbance. The female was determined to have mental illness and was transported to the hospital for emergency psychiatric care. The female remained hostile towards medical staff at the hospital but was treated without incident.
Sept 11th-OPD responded to a call of a male in the roadway on West Idaho Avenue and 5th Street. The male was attempting to stop vehicles and grab items from passing vehicles. The subject was contacted by OPD and was arrested without incident. The subject was armed with a pocket- knife in his hand at the time of his arrest and was believed to be under the influence of drugs.
This week Chief Romero filled in due to both code enforcement officers being away for vacation and family leave time. Chief Romero met with various property owners to discuss abatement actions and equitable resolutions.
Staff are working on vegetation control on City property.
Crews have finished building the storage area for bio-solids at Skyline Farms. They have also improved the haul road on the south and east side of the property and laid gravel for a “track-out” zone to keep empty haul trucks from tracking bio-solids down the road.
Potholes on NE 4th Street and East Idaho Avenue have been filled with patch material, however, ODOT has responsibility for maintaining this section of road.
Staff have been working on the “put-in” trailhead for the Malheur River Water Trail.
The open section of the Dorian Ditch along the east side of NW 22nd Street was backing up. Crews found that debris had blown into the ditch with the high winds earlier in the week. Once they cleared the debris, the ditch began flowing. This is an ongoing challenge to stay on top of.
#2 Booster Pump at Westside Reservoir is still down. The vendor supplying repair parts does not have an estimated time when parts will be onsite. There is one final chemical pump due for routine annual maintenance. The clarifier maintenance for last week and this week is finished. Nothing out of the ordinary was encountered.
The wooded area around the water treatment area doesn’t appear to have unauthorized camping. A couple of the “No Trespassing” signs have been vandalized, but not to the point where they became illegible.
Control panels on the pivots at Skyline are failing. We will be requesting a proposal from the vendor who supplied the control panels for the Malheur Farm pivots to update the Skyline panels. Skyline pivots 4, 5 and 6 are now fallow and ready for bio-solids application. It is estimated that Skyline pivots 1, 2 and 3 will be fallow by October 15th.
Staff are working with Christine Kelly of Oregon State University to begin sampling waste treatment plant influent for COVID-19. Christine is a professor of bioengineering at OSU and will be performing and collating all the test data. Jacobs staff will be collecting samples and sending them to Christine for analysis.
Parks and Cemeteries
The new walking path at Laxson Park is scheduled to be paved this week.
Final inspection and commissioning for the pH project is scheduled for this Friday.
The City Council has awarded the bio-solids removal contract to Synagro. Synagro is planning to mobilize to Ontario the week of September 21st.
Visitors and Convention Board – The V&C Board met this week and awarded their first grant in 6 months for the TVCC new student orientation. They also fulfilled a promise to add an additional $2,500 to the Palmer Healing Garden.
Merchant McIntyre – I met with our grant writers this week and went over the items they are working on. I’ll come to Council on the 15th so that they can make a decision about moving forward with them. They are working on two EDA grants. One, to finish construction on SE 2nd Street, and the other, to design the SE 1st Avenue Americold property.
COVID Business Relief with City CRF – Staff is working on a plan that we hope to bring for Council approval to assist businesses in the 30-50% loss margin.
Homeless Siting Taskforce – We held a group meeting about where the shelter should be sited. The participants included non-profits, church pastors, staff, and business owners. There is one property that is farther along in the process than any others, and that is the property behind the day shelter. The owner is offering to site these shelters without a monthly lease. We are planning a public process to vet the choices, so that it is all done in the open.
Wayfinding – Peter, Dan, and I had the final presentation to staff on the wayfinding system. We are working with them to get a date to present to Council. We can start working on an implementation strategy for the logo. The grant we applied for will not be awarded until April 21, 2021.
Ameresco – We met with Ameresco to come up with a plan to move forward and wrap up the Energy Savings Performance Contract.
Audio Visual Bids – I have been collecting more proposals/bids for the chamber AV automation. The vendor we are using to record meetings does not have a competitive contract, so I need to get 3 bids/proposals. We will still have to keep up a steady pace on this to use the relief funds.
Automation Presentation – We watched our 3rd presentation on automating services. We will be doing some cost and savings analysis. Multiple platforms look like they would help the city offer services online that we don’t currently have, so it will likely come down to value.
STF/STIF – I participated in the State Transportation Fund and State Transportation Infrastructure Fund Committee meetings through the Malheur County Council on Aging Snake River Transit.
The FAA grant for our capital improvement projects has been approved by the FAA and sent to Ontario. The contractor will be notified, and work can begin as soon as they are able.
The grass runway will be mowed Friday morning. Wheel lines and large yellow “X’s” will be removed and then it will be serviceable for aircraft throughout the holiday weekend. This should be a very marketable asset for the city of Ontario.
The port of Portland, through the Oregon Department of Aviation, has supplied airports with masks during the duration of the pandemic. Approximately 500 new cloth masks have been added to the PPE supply for the city’s use.
A Harrier jet did its first taxi today and some of its final testing. It will hopefully be part of our Air Museum someday.
Community & Economic Development
The office is open, but door is locked and allowing customers to come in one at a time. Foot traffic has increased again which is normal towards the end of summer with people trying to get their projects done. It was an extremely busy week for all staff.
Staff is reviewing 23 building applications this week and has issued 8 building permits this past week.
The Planning department is keeping busy processing 36 land use actions. Staff is handling many phone calls and walk-ins dealing with planning issues and/or questions.
Dan and Marc held a web conference for the kickoff meeting with Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) staff and the Cities Hired Consultants on the $50,000 grant we were awarded to update our codes and Housing Needs Analysis (HNA).
Staff is still working with Jacobs and Keller & Associates on the STP Updates for the East Idaho Traffic Study area as well as updating planning codes associated with the Comp Plan update.
Dan and Adam attended the SREDA meeting, as well as web meetings for the Emergency Winter Shelters, the Business Relief program, and the ICS Leadership group dealing with keeping business open.
Dan has been working closely with ODOT staff on the SE 2nd Street project dealing with construction and property owners.
The construction plans are being reviewed by staff for the extension of SE Goodfellow Street and the North side of SE 5th Avenue from SE 13th Street to Malheur Federal Credit Union development.
Flood Plain Administration
Dan continues to work on the amendment Ontario Flood Plain Code (10A-47) to meet the new Oregon Model Code and federal regulations (FEMA).
Staff is working with Kit Kamo of SREDA on several large firms looking for sites in Oregon and is providing information to these projects.
Fire & Rescue
8/24 City Manager Adam Brown, Chief, and the Rural Fire District’s legal council had mediation with the Department of Corrections for fire coverage at SRCI. 8/25 Some of the staff participated in the City Safety Committee meeting. 8/26, 9/1 City Manager Adam Brown, Assistant to the City Manager Peter Hall, and Chief worked many hours on building financial cost models for the city and rural fire needs. 8/27, 9/3 Chief virtually attended the Malheur County COVID-19 task force meeting. 9/3 Staff attended the Rural Fire Protection board meeting.
8/28 The Deputy State Fire Marshal, Airport Manager and Chief did fire safety inspections at all three agricultural service centers at the Airport. 9/3 The building officials and Chief did a final inspection at 727 South Oregon Street. The chief also worked with the staff at St. Peter’s School on occupancy issues for a new license.
8/25 The staff continued to do circuit training drills on the same hands-on stations we have been doing for the past few weeks. 8/28 Some of the staff did an extrication demo/class at North Verde Auto Salvage, trying out some new battery powered tools. 9/1 The Fire Department did Post Incident Analysis for some of our fires from the past couple of months.
8/25 Some of the staff got their physicals completed. 8/27,28 These were days of annual pump testing of all the apparatus.
The past couple of weeks we have had three illegal burns, a trash fire behind West Park Plaza and a dumpster fire. The crews also responded to two semi-truck fires with the trailer brakes and tires extremely hot and burning.
The Public Works office is closed to public and non-essential employee access.
Staff are working on vegetation control on City property. Crews have finished building a storage area for bio-solids at Skyline Farms. They are now working to improve the haul road.
#2 Booster Pump at Westside Reservoir is still down. The vendor supplying repair parts does not have an estimated time when parts will be onsite.
Jacobs will be scheduling clarifier maintenance for this week and next.
BLM had requested that they be allowed to discharge fire retardant wastewater from their operation at the Ontario airport to the WWTP. However, the waste is hazardous and must be taken to an approved receiving facility.
Final inspection for the pH project is being scheduled.
Parks and Cemeteries
Staff are working to keep up with the mowing and weeding at the parks and cemeteries. A new staff member has joined the Parks team. This will help with the backlog of trimming and mowing needs.
The Goodfellow lane extension is being reviewed.
A contactor has been contacted to look at the police station break room remodel.
An AutoCAD program for the Community Development Director is being sourced.
Jacobs staff have caught up with their part of the work on Skate Park bathroom. Once the contractor moves to the next phase, Jacobs will continue the work. We have to meet our deadline of the end of the October to finish out the grant.
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.