City Council recognizes Public Works, prepares for National Night Out

Mayor Joe Henry opened the meeting with the reading into the record of two proclamations

May 22, 2019 — The May 20 Florence City Council meeting found councilors tackling long-term public works issues as the primary action of the evening. There were also a variety of presentations.

Mayor Joe Henry opened the meeting with the reading into the record of two proclamations. The first recognized May as Building Safety Month and the second proclaimed May 19 to 25 as National Public Works Week.

Winners of a campaign conducted by the Planning Department to highlight Building Safety Month, the Dog-on-the-Job photo contest, were introduced by Planning Administrative Assistant Vevie McPherren as they accepted congratulations from the council.

The human winners of the photo contest were presented with a backpack, filled with city-related gift items, while the winning dogs were not in attendance.

Public Works Director Mike Miller accepted the certificate of recognition for National Public Works week from Henry and spoke briefly about the high quality of work done by the employees of the department.

During the public comments portion of the meeting, the only commenter wanted to bring the high rate of suicide in Oregon, Lane County and Florence to the council’s attention. The speaker shared information from a recent study released by Lane County Public Health which details suicide statistics and associated data for the county and Florence. One of the more startling statistics in the report states that the rate of suicide in Lane County is 50 percent greater than the national average.

Police Chief Tom Turner next introduced two new Florence Police Department Communications Officers, Vivian Hansen and Dixie Beach, to council members and the public.

Turner then presented to the council a letter recapping the success of last year’s local National Night Out and informing councilors that plans for this year’s event are progressing.

Turner said participation in National Night Out events across the country has topped more than 38 million. The events help inform about many of the services and important work done by first responders in local communities.

Last year’s event included members of Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue, Western Lane Ambulance District and the Florence Police Department, among other community and service groups.

“Last year, our first year, we won the Rookie of the Year Award, which was an amazing feat,” Turner said. “I was very humbled and pleased with that. It was a great outcome for our city. I am looking forward to once again getting this going. Last year 2,500 people had hot dogs, hamburgers and pop and a nice time with their community.”

According to Turner, the cost of the event was a reasonable $4,500 and almost all of that money had been donated to cover the costs.

He then thanked the council for their support and asked for that support to be continued this year.

The meeting continued with consideration of the consent agenda, which included a Lane County Hazard Mitigation Plan, minutes from previous meetings and a liquor license for Mari’s Kitchen. All three items were approved unanimously by the councilors.

Afterwards, City Projects Manager Megan Messmer walked councilors through a series of resolutions presented to update the internet service agreement allowing WAVE Broadband to operate and maintain a communications system within the city limits of Florence. The resolutions were again passed unanimously.

Miller next made a presentation that was designed to provide councilors with a review of the city’s Stormwater Master Plan. The plan is designed to be a guide to the repair, replacement and construction of public works projects that Miller and his staff, with the input of residents, feel must be addressed.

The current plan was recapped, as was the need for a number of projects moving forward. Miller ultimately provided the council with an updated Stormwater Master Plan, focusing on a number of projects that will require the attention of the Public Works Department in the future. These projects were prioritized, and Miller received unanimous approval for his request, which came in the form of Resolution No. 9, Series 2019.

April committee and commission reports were submitted as part of the materials packet provided to councilors and the public for the meeting and accepted by the council.

City Manager Erin Reynolds, report included updates on the week’s events and the city schedule for the rest of the month.

“So much happened last week,” she said. “We had a fantastic park opening and we are currently still taking names for our park, which is located west of the Wastewater Treatment Plant off of Rhododendron Drive, which has fantastic views of the Siuslaw River and the dunes and trees. It’s just gorgeous, so thank you to everyone that was a part of that.”

Reynolds also spoke of the 125-people-strong turnout for the “Public Paint” held last Friday, which allowed residents to participate in the installation of the Public Art Committee’s mural on the Central Lincoln PUD Building at the intersection of Quince Street and Highway 126.

The city manager wrapped up her report by commenting on the successful Rhody Days Festival of the preceding weekend, emphasizing the work and dedication of the staff and volunteers which allowed for a successful event in spite of inclement weather on Friday and Saturday.

Reynolds also extended an invitation to interested residents to attend a Housing Code Open House on Thursday, May 23 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at City hall.

The evening ended on a somewhat contentious note as Councilor Joshua Greene asked that the council reconsider their decision, made earlier this year, to forgo hiring a professional grant writer for the city.

Greene pointed out that a recent $20,000 grant received from the Western Lane Community Foundation was written by former city councilor, Suzy Lacer, who had been hired in a professional capacity by the Public Art Committee.

Greene expressed his belief that many departments of the city might benefit from the insight a professional would bring to the process.

Henry was not in agreement that the services of a professional were needed, citing as an example the substantial sums of grant monies that have been awarded to the Public Works department.

After continued discussion between Henry and Greene, a motion to hire a professional grant writer for the city was made by Greene and seconded by Councilor Ron Preisler. The motion was voted down 3-2, with councilors Geraldine Lucio and Woody Woodbury supporting Henry’s position. The meeting was quickly adjourned afterwards.

The next Florence City Council meeting will be held on June 3 at 5:30 p.m. at Florence City Hall, 250 Highway 101.

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