Happy Thanksgiving! There are many amazing things for me to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for a great city council and mayor who have set a visionary strategic direction for our city. I’m thankful to work with amazing department heads. Unless you know them well, you would truly be amazed at how many hours they put in and how devoted they are to their jobs. It’s not just a job for them, it’s a mission filled with purpose. I’m thankful for the great community partners who work together to solve community challenges. I’m grateful for the amazing people of Ontario that make this a great community. I’m grateful to have a supportive family that puts up with a very irregular schedule of a City Manager. I hope you all feel equally grateful as I am this time of year.
Here’s what’s gone on this past week.
We received a $132,109 grant award for the Treasure Valley Connector trail this week. It’s very exciting to build Ontario’s first multipurpose recreational trail! We are hoping for a spring construction.
Diversity Advisory Committee
The DAC met this week. They will be holding a strategic planning meeting in February.
Marijuana Ad Hoc Committee
The Marijuana Ad Hoc Committee met on the same night as the Diversity Advisory Committee. The Ad Hoc Committee went very well.
We will be launching a survey we have created on social media to assist with the wayfinding project that is underway. You can participate on the City Facebook page when it comes out. Please share it with anyone who uses our community including business owners and those who just come for work. We need to hear from everyone.
Rural Fire Board
The mayor and I met with the Rural Fire Board on Monday. We gave them our support and suggested a few places that may be able to help with the cost calculation for a contract they are working on with the Snake River Correctional Institute.
We walked City Hall and the Airport with the engineers from LS Networks to scope out the fiber installation.
Day Wireless has been here this week installing the exterior cameras at City Hall. They made progress at the parks and airport too.
911 User Board Meeting
The 911 Users Board met Thursday afternoon. The topic of discussion was the new tax on cell phones passed last year and whether it would reduce the Cities (Ontario, Vale, & Nyssa) contracts for 9-1-1 services within Malheur County. The Sheriff’s staff affirmed that those costs will reduce our contract. The timing is slower than I realized. Cell phone companies start collecting the fee in January of 2020. They don’t pay the state until March of 2020, so the Sheriff won’t see those funds until July of 2020. So, at the direction of the Budget Committee and City Council it will be used proportionally to reduce the public safety fee on water bills. Citizens could expect a reduction in their public safety fee in July of 2020 and July of 2021.
We reviewed a product this morning for streamlining online and in-house processes and forms. Our leadership team will look at it next week. We are always looking at more efficient ways to serve the community
Community & Economic Development
Staff is reviewing 7 building applications this week and has issued 5 building permits this past week.
The City has processed 5 land use actions this past week with a total of 68 land use actions so far this year.
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 will bring that forward to the planning commission and city council.
The construction plans for the Airport sewer extension project, which is a council strategic priority has been reviewed and approved by the City Engineer and should go out to bid next week. Our Community Development Director Dan Cummings saved us at least $15,000 by doing the surveying and drawings himself.
Chief Romero conducted interviews of the three finalists for the second code enforcement position. All three applicants are Ontario residents and brought a variety of experience and talents. Chief Romero will be extending a conditional employment opportunity to the top candidate.
Chief Romero facilitated a multi-agency training course at OPD instructed by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. The purpose was to provide all law enforcement agencies within Malheur County with updated marijuana regulation and enforcement information.
Chief Romero conducted a presentation on the history of the American Justice System and Policing at the Four Rivers Preparatory High School. Chief Romero conducted an interactive classroom shooting range competition with NERF Guns and empty soda cans. Of the 20+ students that participated, Chief Romero and the school staff gave out three awards to the top 3 student competitors, which included a “Top Gun” award. The event was very fun and productive for the Chief, school staff, and the students.
The roof was partially installed on the new shelter at Lions Park, but the project is not complete. The shelter looks great and will be a positive asset for the community in the future.
Staff addressed multiple water leaks throughout the city; primarily water services that have degraded over time.
Leaf pickup began on Monday, November 18 and made 2 complete circuits throughout town to pick bagged debris. We have a small crew this week to address any bags we may have missed last week.
Staff began preparing trucks and sanders for this week’s predicted snow fall.
Two staff members attended an in-house maintenance training seminar in Portland; they will in turn train the rest of our staff on new tools and procedures on our electronic maintenance management system.
Modifications were made to the chemical feed system including a double check valves on specific chemical feed lines to prevent failure.
One staff member passed his state mandated certification exam. He makes a total of 10 staff members that upgraded their certification levels this year.
Parks and Cemetery
Leaf mulching at the parks continues. Leaves have not dropped as quickly as we would have liked so mulching continues longer than we would have liked.
Crews went over snow removal equipment to assure reliable operation for winter.
We ran into a little bit of a wall with the airport proposal, but Community in Action and Origins Faith Community are going to give a presentation tomorrow on another possible solution.
Business Oregon met with our team on Tuesday morning to talk about all of the options out there for public financing of our water and wastewater improvements including grant funding. I have to complement them; the State had everybody on the conference call and truly made it a one-stop-shop for funding possibilities. Our city staff was very impressed that we had all of the state agencies to tell us what grants and loans were available.
We cut the ribbon on the Origins Day Shelter and on Body Shop Fitness on Wednesday. Two good reasons to celebrate.
St Alphonsus Community Study
I met with St. Alphonsus staff to discuss their community survey. They will be holding other sessions, and I would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to participate, to do so. This helps our hospitals set a strategic direction for community health care and investment.
The snowplow has been checked over and is ready for service. The sweeper broom has been reattached to the loader and the pavement sweeping has begun around the airport.
Nov 12th- OPD staff conducted interviews for the new code enforcement position, with assistance from HR Director Hall. Several promising applicants were interviewed with the top three finalists moving forward in the hiring process. They are scheduled for interviews with the Chief of Police.
Nov 11-15th-Chief Romero is in the process of developing and finalizing written guidelines for various specialty positions and programs currently operating within the OPD; including the new code enforcement position. Chief Romero’s intent is to create standardized guidelines that will assist employees in better understanding the roles, responsibilities, and city expectations of the various specialty assignments.
Nov 12th- Chief Romero attended the law enforcement executive meeting in Vale. Chief Romero proposed an inter-agency “force-multiplying” model and discussed the need for developing a more sophisticated and effective county-wide information sharing platform during critical incidents.
Nov 13th- Chief Romero conducted a follow-up consultation with an Idaho based communications systems expert to discuss new technology and infrastructure improvement options for the aging Malheur County and OPD radio communications system. Chief Romero’s primary focus is to seek and solicit federal or state grant funding to cover the cost of any improvements and / or repairs to the radio system.
Chief Romero finalized an educational presentation on the history of the American justice system with his mentee Selena Arocha, from the Four Rivers Preparatory High School. Chief Romero and OPD staff will conduct a presentation and learning activity at the campus on November 22, 2019.
Officer Llamas, Chief Romero, and Lt. Cooper traveled to the Salem area for the honoring and reception of officer Llamas’ “Life Saving Award” presented to her by the Oregon Peace Officers Association. This was a very proud moment for OPD and our Ontario community.
Chief Romero and Officer Sam D’Addabbo attended the Veteran’s appreciation luncheon at the Veteran’s Advocate of Ore-Ida. Many great stories were shared by the veterans that were in attendance. OPD is glad to support our military partners (past and present).
Nov 14th- Chief Romero attended a benefits dinner at the Ontario Masonic Lodge. Chief Romero was presented with a $500.00 Police Department donation from the lodge. Chief Romero will apply the donation funds, exclusively for the purchase of crime prevention and education tools for the Ontario youth (k-12). OPD is greatly appreciative of the partnership with the Masonic Lodge in getting the word out to our youths about societal challenges they may experience as they develop and grow.
Fire & Rescue
The staff attended the Malheur County Emergency Management team meeting and had an update on the LEPC. Lt. Cooper, Chief Leighton and Sheri attended the county traffic safety commission meeting.
The department hosted a large class on drone flight operations. This class had people from Law Enforcement, Fire, EMS and Private industry from Idaho and Oregon attend. The staff had a class at TVP from Dr. Smith on cardiac emergencies CHF.
Truck 109 went to the state high school soccer playoffs and displayed the large American Flag. The crew that day hosted a fire department birthday party with 15 children. A group of Boy Scouts toured both the Police and Fire stations. Some of the staff used truck 109 and changed the rest of the light bulbs at the high school football field.
Besides the normal medical calls this week, our staff responded mostly to utility calls. They had two water leak issues and a complaint about a smell of gas.
The roof was partially installed on the new shelter at Lions Park but the project is not complete. The shelter looks great and will a positive asset for the community in the future.
Staff addressed multiple water leaks throughout the city, primarily water services that have degraded over time.
Leaf pickup begins on Monday. We estimate another new record for the number of bags collected.
Staff discovered some additional issues with our chemical feed system. Additional check valves were installed to prevent similar problems in the future.
Parks and Cemetery
Leaf mulching at the parks continues. Leaves have not dropped as quickly as we would have liked so mulching continues.
The winterization of underground irrigation systems is complete.
I want to start off by saying first of all, the City Council is making a difference in this community. Through their visioning and application of resources, we are making many visible improvements that will help change the image of this community.
Also, we have a great leadership team. We talk through problems together and I couldn't feel more blessed to be surrounded by such great people.
We are still working through some challenges with a site to support the homeless population for the winter.
I was interviewed by KTVB on Monday. The story aired over the weekend about the marijuana business in Ontario. I shared with them the investments in our community the City Council is making in our community with the money being collected.
Finance prepared a draft budget calendar. We moved the budget back one month last year and I would like to move it back another month this year. Preparations will begin in December.
I attended the Border Board this week. They have good participation in the grant programs from the other taxing entities in Malheur County. Most of the taxing districts are opting in.
Park Improvement Leveraging
The plan to put up match money for our service clubs is looking successful. This week we were notified that three service clubs have planned matches for our $10,000 each, leveraging another $30,000 in park improvements.
Chief Romero met with Masonic Lodge representatives to coordinate a fundraising dinner event to benefit OPD’s community policing initiative.
Chief Romero conducted a conference call with Astoria Police Chief, Geoff Spalding. They discussed strategies about homeless population response plans, small agency scheduling, and resource allocation efficiency plans. Astoria PD serves as a comparable agency for OPD.
Chief Romero hosted the “First Annual” OPD retiree open house and luncheon at OPD. The goal is to welcome back the great people that previously spent part of their lives serving the Ontario community through a variety of assignments. Chief Romero places great emphasis on building a long-term relationship for OPD teams of the past and current. Chief Romero donated all the food, snacks and beverages for those in attendance.
After several weeks of investigating, OPD and federal task force officers made an arrest of a wanted fugitive. Last Friday, Chief Romero assisted OPD units in the early morning hours at the scene of perimeter containment next to Ontario High School. The suspect, who was wanted for a felony warrant, was pursued by vehicle first and after using a spike strip, then by foot, after crashing his vehicle against a curb. The suspect, considered “Armed and Dangerous”, was located by OPD officers during a foot search of the homes just east of the OHS football field. Another great catch by OPD personnel.
Fire and Rescue
The department had many members and apparatus in the Veterans Day parade for those that served our country. Some of the staff assisted the high school by replacing lightbulbs on the football field; that was a big project and is only half way done.
The crew responded to a care home for a call of burning smell, they were able to trace it down to a melted doorbell chime and an overheated transformer. The power was disconnected and the chime was removed.
The staff responded to a fully involved car fire in the state park by 201 and I-84 the owner stated the steering felt funny so he pulled over and then flames appeared and he called for help.
This week, Dan began with troubleshooting the strobe light the end of runway 33. A new bulb is being sought after as it is non-standard. More runway and tax away lighting is also being repaired as part of the upkeep at the airport.
Two new hanger leases have been created and will be put on the agenda for City Council approval as soon as the required insurance is provided from the owners.
Community& Economic Development
Staff has been very busy with lots of phone calls and clients coming in trying to get t projects done before winter hits as well as continuing scanning past records and files into the archive system to free up the storage facility.
Staff is reviewing 6 building applications this week and has issued 12 building permits this past week.
The city council approved the amendment of the city comprehensive plan and map by extending the urban growth boundary to include a piece of property left out in the 2007 update. The next step in to now annex this property into the city limit which the application for this can now be processed.
Dan is continuing to work on updating the City code relating to Marijuana, Certified Local Government regulations and housekeeping code issues found over the years working with the codes and will be bring these forward to the planning commission and city council in the near future.
Dan completed the construction plans for the Airport sewer extension project the council approved the budget for and submitted them to the City engineer for review and approval in hopes of getting this project out to bid in the next few weeks. Way to go Dan for saving money on this project.
Dan met with the Ontario Rotary Club as well as the Ontario Lions Club this week on future plans of the parks they represent and future development and improvements to these parks.
ADA crosswalk access sidewalks were poured on Alameda; the crosswalks are painted and now in service.
The bar screen system at the prison lift station was rebuilt and put back into service, this system has backup redundancy. Street sweeping continues for the entire town based on our schedule. Catch basin cleaning started and will be going through the fall.
New decorative trash cans were installed in the downtown core area replacing the old concrete cans. Those cans will be recycled to other locations in the City.
Staff identified an issue with our chemical feed system; crews developed a work around and will move to repair this issue early next week.
Housekeeping and painting continue at the water treatment plant. Primary focus is the pump gallery.
Parks and Cemetery
There were two burials this week at Evergreen Cemetery. Leaf mulching at the parks has also begun, in weekly inspections staff are keeping well ahead of leaf drop. Winterization of underground irrigation systems is complete.
Our JACOBS staff turned around the bench that was put in near Andrews Seeds after pouring a small pad, with the permission of the owner, so that it did not obstruct any parking or handicap space. See the picture (it looks really great!).
Citizens Coalition of Ontario
The grassroots group hosted their 3rd community forum. Chief Romero (Police) and Dan Cummings (Community & Economic Development Director) presented with Andrew Maeda from the Recreation District. We had the Alameda Lego Robotics Club come; they asked some really great questions. We owe much thanks to the coalition for hosting and planning these forums.
I was privileged to have a student from Four Rivers Community School shadow me for the day. Her interest is in architecture so she participated in the design meeting for the wayfinding system and we reviewed the skate park bathroom plans with the Architect from JACOBS.
I spent about 9 hours this week investigating some potential solutions to our homeless issues. That work involved meeting with other community agencies, talking with staff, and speaking with our City Council members. We will have a discussion about it during next Thursday’s City Council Work Session. It’s a challenge that has many potential solutions, but none are easy or simple. It’s a very complex issue. Addressing it will involve making difficult decisions.
Energy Performance Proposal
I let out a request for proposals for an ESCO (Energy Service Company) Performance Contract. I believe we have some savings to realize, particularly with our street lighting.. This has the potential to save us a significant amount of money. I’ll talk more about it at the Work Session.
Fire & Rescue
Our public safety staff was invited to First Responders Appreciation day at Ontario Community Church where they welcomed us and had both Chiefs say a few words. They also had us join them for brunch. The crew and some of the associate members took out Engine 103 to the Boo-Bash trunk or treat at TVCC and the high school trunk or treat.
We responded to an electrical outlet that overheated and was contained to the outlet and plug strip. The staff responded to a motor vehicle crash roll over with three critical patients. Two were sent by air ambulance. The crews also responded on multiple false alarms.
Chief Romero was shadowed by his Four Rivers High School mentee for her high school senior project. The mentee did a short ride-along with officer Llamas, who was eager to assist and mentor the student as well.
Chief Romero issued one temporary lodging voucher to a homeless individual who he contacted at the river clean-up project. The voucher was possible through a program offered by the Salvation Army and administered by OPD. The individual is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Chief Romero and Officer Elizondo visited Alameda Elementary School for a Red Ribbon presentation and school assembly. Students K-6th grade were provided an opportunity to ask questions and interact with OPD regarding, “How to stay drug free.” Chief Romero challenged the students to a “Say No To Drugs” writing contest, in return for a classroom party for the winning class.
Chief Romero accompanied me, our Public Works Director, and two reporters from the Argus Observer to take a post river cleanup tour of the water treatment plant. The goal was to provide transparency and information.
Chief Romero and Officer Elizondo conducted a community Drug Prevention and Education seminar at OHS in both English and Spanish. The goal was to inform and educate parents and children on best practices for insuring a Drug Free lifestyle. This was in conjunction with the Red Ribbon Week campaign.
Chief Romero met with and assisted a group of homeowners in the south side of the city, with planning and developing a new Neighborhood Watch program.
OPD staff donated over $150 of candy to hand out at OPD’s “Trunk or Treat” event at OHS for Halloween. OPD Staff also participated at other Halloween festivities throughout the city and at the Elks Lodge. The goal was to interact with the community and offer additional safety.
Monday evening's airport committee was productive. Jessica Sherwood from the Bureau of Land Management shared that Ontario's tanker base is now on the list of sites for a new building at the national level. This is great news! The much needed fiber, sewer, and cameras approved by the council were also well received.
The Airport Managers airplane inventory has generated another 40 planes based in Ontario. With this more accurate data, we will be in a position to receive more funding.
Gravel will be placed at the ends of the runway to meet the requirements stated in the Oregon Department of Aviation's report on the pavement maintenance plan.
Human Resources and Public Information
Peter is continuing to work with the Police Department on our Code Enforcement Officer. We had a lot of applicants and the top candidates will be interviewed in front of a panel this month.
Community & Economic Development
Staff has been very productive these past weeks with the help from our part time worker Isabelle who has been a big help in scanning past records and files into the archive system.
Staff is reviewing 13 building applications this week and has issued 8 building permits this past week with 26 total permits being issued so far in the month of October.
Marcy and Dwayne attended training and re-certification for the 2019 Oregon Structural Specialty Code (commercial code change) in Bend this month.
Dan has been very busy processing 13 land use applications these past few weeks. We are at 66 Land Use Actions so far for this year.
Dan attended a week’s training in Lewiston, Idaho, funded by a grant from Oregon DLCD (Department of Land Conservation and Development) on FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration) Flood Plain Administration last week to get trained on the new NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) regulations and the new model codes established by FEMA and the State of Oregon.
Dan has been working on amending the Ontario Flood Plain Code (10A-47) to meet the new Oregon Model Code and will bring that forward to the planning commission and city council in the near future.
Dan is still working with me on the Snake River Trail with Kraft Heinz (ORE-IDA) and Wal-Mart as well as with ODOT (Oregon Department of Transportation).
With the help from Kit Kamo with SREDA, staff has been submitting our Industrial site to several manufacturers looking for sites in Oregon.
The concrete pad and sidewalk were poured for the Lions Park shelter. After the concrete has cured we will finish the construction of the replacement shelter. This will be a great asset to the city.
ADA crosswalk access sidewalks were poured on Alameda, which was a citizen led effort. Street sweeping continues for the entire town based on our schedule. Catch basin cleaning started and will be going through the fall.
New decorative trash cans matching our benches were installed in the downtown core area replacing the old concrete cans. Those cans will be used at other locations in the City.
Staff trouble shot and resolved an issue with a brine tank sensor for our disinfection system.
SRCI contract negotiations continue. We meet again next week.
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.