The Odessa Record -

Town council

Energy upgrade project goes forward

 


The Odessa Town Council met January 9 and 23 for its regularly scheduled Monday evening sessions in the Odessa Public Library. A synopsis of both meetings follows.

Annexation of the Odessa Industrial Park and of residential areas on the south hill of Odessa has been tabled at the last two meetings, due primarily to other pressing business on the council’s agenda.

Councilman Terry Goetz was elected by his fellow members to serve as mayor pro tem for the next six months.

Building inspector for the town, Abby Reyes, has resigned citing the demands of his full-time job. He proposed to the council that the town’s building codes be updated and that a zoning officer be engaged for better oversight and enforcement of the rules already in place. Town public works employee Gerald Greenwalt was approached about serving as the building inspector/zoning officer. He agreed and was appointed by the council to fill that dual role.

The mayor proposed that the pay for council members and the mayor be raised. The mayor currently received $100 each month to serve the town. Council members each receive $30/month. Hubbard, after consulting other towns in the area, suggested that each amount be doubled. In case the public might think that its elected representatives are raising their own pay, it was pointed out that the pay raise would not apply to those currently serving, only to those newly elected. The council voted to raise the stipend to $200/month for the mayor and $60/month for each council member.

Energy upgrades

Representatives of the Apollo Solutions Group of Spokane made a presentation to the council regarding energy upgrades to facilities owned by the town. This Group guarantees that the energy savings, plus grant money that it would apply for on the town’s behalf, would pay for the planning, engineering work and performance of the upgrades over an agreed upon time period. The council voted to have Apollo continue to the next step in its project plan. Loans from the state were also available to the town to cover any immediate shortfall to keep the project moving forward.

Fire Department

The Odessa Volunteer Fire Department, always on the lookout for used vehicles that might be of service to the department at low cost, found and purchased a multi-use vehicle with both a winch and an on-board water tank using funds already in its budget.

Police Department

Police chief Tom Clark has been negotiating with Adams County Pet Rescue to house dogs that have been found running loose about the town.The organization has a shelter that can handle the animals that Odessa sends it. It has a policy of not euthanizing the animals until all possible efforts at reuniting the pets with their owners or else rehabilitating and finding homes for those pets whose owners cannot be found have been exhausted. Dogs that are unlicensed are more difficult to reunite with their owners and must be sent to the pet rescue shelter. Odessa’s kennel was once used to house the animals but it is no longer safe or sanitary. [Editor’s note: Efforts to construct a new kennel have dwindled to nothing since the person spearheading it moved out of town a few years ago.]

Feral cats also continue to be a problem in many Odessa neighborhoods, as well as downtown, said councilman Bill Crossley.

Clark also said he had received a comment through social media that a citizen could not upload the town’s website to their mobile device. He has been working with webmaster Karen Robertson of Harrington to correct the problem and update some other aspects of the website. Another feature to be added will allow members of the public to send anonymous tips to the police department through a link on the website.

Public Works

Public works director Rod Webster said he had ordered a new dishwasher for the Old Town Hall’s kitchen. The dishwasher/sterilizer currently in the kitchen is now inoperable.

Considerable overtime had been incurred over the past month due to snow removal and the failure of several grinder pumps, Webster said.

Mayor Lois Hubbard asked council members to volunteer to serve on a pool committee. Work must begin soon on hiring and training lifeguards for this coming summer. She added that she would like to be able to hire an adult manager to run the pool and oversee the lifeguards.

Citizen complaint

A citizen brought to the council’s attention a matter that he said he had been trying to get resolved for several months. The town clerk had urged him to attend a council meeting. At issue was what he considered a case of double billing by the town for his water/sewer services.

At the residence in question, the owners had a contractor install a bathroom in the detached garage on the property. The sewer and water lines from the house were extended to the garage for use in that bathroom. No separate meters for water use were ever installed, although a separate electric meter was put in by Avista at the homeowners’ request.

The garage, or a portion thereof, was eventually converted into an apartment and rented out to a tenant. The town, knowing of this arrangement, at some point began sending a separate bill for the apartment. The homeowner objected, saying that there was one water line and one sewer line leading to the property and that any and all water use and sewage removal from the apartment was already being paid for in the bill received for the house itself.

After a lengthy discussion in which each side endeavored to present a convincing case, tempers were sometimes barely contained. Ultimately, the homeowner left before the issue was resolved, promising the council members that they would hear from a lawyer in the near future.

 

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