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Harrington news

Council discusses income survey, waste water discharge violation, street work


--Courtesy photos.

Busy "engineers in training" compete to build the tallest possible tower using marshmallows and spaghetti by following a process of engineering design.


July 10, Monday evening at 7 p.m., the Harrington Opera House Society met in the Art Room with the following persons present: Billie Herron, Mark and Sheryl Stedman, Edwin and Bunny Haugan, Karen Robertson, Marge Womach, Carol Giles and Cherie MacClellan. Maintenance issues were discussed and the event schedule was reviewed.

City Council

Harrington City Council met Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., at city hall with the following present: Mayor Dillon Haas; councilmen Justin Slack, Levi Schenk, Peter Davenport and Mike Cronrath; Clerk Bunny Haugan; Maintenance Scott McGowan and visitors Margie Hall of the Lincoln Co. Economic Development Council, Diana Washington of the Dept. of Ecology, Jeremy and Shannon Sewall, Stacey Rasmussen, Marge Womach, Brent Wilday and Ashley Schenk.

Hall attended to discuss the income survey that the EDC will conduct in Harrington as part of a process for establishing a correct value of total income for the residents of the town. That figure is then used by state and federal agencies to determine both the low to moderate income and the median household income averages that determine whether Harrington qualifies to apply for various grants and loans. The present figure is an estimate that has likely been too high and has prevented the city from applying.

The survey is designed to prevent any identification of the persons living in the household completing the survey. The EDC will also keep all data confidential. The survey will be sent to every household, and it is hoped that all citizens will respond to the initial survey. A random number will be assigned to the household at a given physical address. The first, information-only letter will be mailed together with the July 31 utility billing. The surveys will then be mailed to residents on August 14, with the return deadline of August 31, 2017. Door-to-door surveying will occur between September 11 and 28 for residents who failed to return the survey. No city employees will be involved in distributing or collecting these surveys. A public forum to explain this survey and answer questions or concerns has been set for August 8.

Diana Washington, a compliance person from Dept. of Ecology, spoke with the mayor and city council about the recent violation of Harrington's state discharge permit. Between September 2016 and April 2017, the City of Harrington did not submit monthly discharge monitoring reports as required in permits. The city failed to submit a total of 10 reports. In addition, the city did not submit an annual waste-load assessment as required in the permit, which was due March 15, 2017. Ecology is hoping to bring Harrington into compliance without resorting to punitive measures. She repeated Ecology's need for a paper trail, since her office cannot prove that our city is not polluting the environment. Mayor Haas attempted to explain that he had tried to follow the requirements, but the city flow meter has not been working for almost a year. Consequently, the mayor did not have the numbers needed to complete the reports. The meter cannot be repaired, and will cost about $6,000 to replace. The mayor stated that no funds were available last fall to replace it, so no action was taken. He also explained that he had spoken by phone and visited the Ecology office once, for which there was no documentation.

Council members seemed stunned by the knowledge that the city was not meeting its responsibility and that there had been no communication from the mayor regarding this problem. Washington offered assistance to help bring the city into compliance, including providing technical assistance, resources and document assistance. Haas had pages of reports that were incomplete and not sent. Washington stated that the reports should have been turned in as required along with an explanation as to why they were incomplete. In an effort to avert additional problems, Washington reminded the council that the "operator of the facility must have a Level 2 certification by September 2017." Since this deadline will not be met, she advised that a modification of the permit be requested from Ecology. McGowan was advised to contact Andy O'Neal regarding more educational information for his certification.

Haas and McGowan gave the maintenance report to the council regarding time spent locating lines for NPL, repairing water leaks, supervising the tree service work in the cemetery, and digging a deeper ditch to install PVC line deep enough to prevent further freezing. Other topics were the upcoming asphalt work and patching, conditions at the cemetery and the need to have a pattern or strategy for mowing and trimming by sections so that progress is visible section by section.

The Second Street project brought out some concerned citizens dealing with an apparent miscommunication by the mayor regarding the cement islands that could be filled with gravel, red rock or green grass. Clearly, the property in question belongs to the city. The mayor claims that precedent has been set and that the property owners will be responsible for the area's upkeep. One council member disagreed regarding responsibility.

As will be recalled, the Second Street project came about as a result of the city council accepting a grant from the Transportation Improvement Board awarded during the January 13, 2016 meeting of the council. Much of the initial conflict regarding the project centered on these swales, which property owners were opposed to. Owners were assured that their rights would not be ignored and that the mayor would keep in mind the public interest (November 9). The December 20 council meeting was held with Bo McCanna, the project engineer, present. At the time McCanna's intent was "to leave each home owner's front yard as-is." He also suggested that, if the budget allowed, "it might be possible to place decorative rock in some areas."

A meeting of McCanna and others involved in the Second Street project was scheduled for the next day as a construction conference with the mayor. Councilman Cronrath questioned the integrity of the sidewalk and stub outs on Douglas and Second with the semi traffic that will likely bounce off of the sidewalk. Mayor Haas stated he would check with Winkler on the status of the strip in question and follow-up with the homeowners.

At 10 p.m., the meeting continued following its agenda and approved the bills. The city received a letter from the Lincoln Co. Public Works director informing the city of an evaluation proposal for bridges in which they have offered to rate and evaluate the bridges. The council voted approval for the Mayor to respond that the city is interested in participating in this requirement.

In response to the Municipal Green Waste diversion program, the Lincoln County Solid Waste Division has offered a collection bin to help Harrington stay in compliance with the Apple Maggot permitting requirements. The Division will rent a bin for $20 per month and charge a $50 fee per load for transportation/disposal. Council voted to have the mayor sign the contract. The current municipal waste hauler's (Empire Disposal) contract will expire in December of 2017. The rate they are quoting for renewal is more than three times the current rate. The council will look for alternative haulers.

Mention was made of the vacant lot survey and the 23 responses that were turned in out of the 230 surveys sent out. The main interests from those respondents were benches, grass, garden beds and trees.

Councilman Cronrath reported that he had measured the cemetery and found that the east tree line was at the edge of the property, in terms of knowing where the potential new building could be placed. He also called Allied Steel and obtained a price quote on a 24 x 24 building with two doors to cost approximately $11,982 without a cement pad. Randy Behrens, Lions Club representative, had felt that it would be the Spring of 2018 before the Lions would be addressing the building project.

Councilman Slack recommended that the council agenda be printed on Friday or Monday prior to the council meeting to allow council members the opportunity to research these topics and come prepared. He also requested more communication from the mayor during the month as events or problems arise. He then encouraged the mayor to ask for assistance from the council when it would be of help to him.

Regarding abatement notices, the mayor stated he sent out yard and dog notices. There remain three violators and 9 have now complied. The city needs to have a Citation Book and a list of procedures prior to hiring an enforcement officer. The Mayor stated that he will begin interviewing this week.

Two applicant letters have been received expressing interest in becoming members of the Public Development Authority. After brief discussion, the council voted to approve Jay Gossett and Tim Tipton as members. The council meeting adjourned at 11 p.m.

Allen Barth Memorial

The Studebaker Garage was full of activity prior to the Saturday event, July 15. Cars were being hustled, cleaned, polished and positioned. The building was cleaned and set up for the BBQ, Public Development Authority fundraiser and Memorial Benefit Lunch for the founding father of The Studebaker Garage in Harrington, Allen Barth. The crew included Heather Slack, Tim Tipton, Loren and Terry Howe, Gabe Garcia and Jerilyn Key, Jay Gossett and Paul Charlton. Cars were arriving Friday evening and by 10 a.m. Saturday Harrington was beginning to look much like it had for the many previous car shows that Allen Barth had organized.

A steady flow of people and autos came to this event. Townspeople were pleased to meet and greet the family of Allen Barth: his three sisters and two brothers, Florence Coffey of Spokane, Thia Barth from Oregon, Nancy Kelley of Greenacres, David Barth from Elk and Sidney Barth of Winona; nieces Marcy Thill and Rebecca Coffey; nephews Jeff Coffey and Nick Barth of Seattle; cousin Cheri and Allen's aunt and uncle, Renee and Kenney Schultz. Locally, Allen's wife was present, daughter Jill Plaskon and her three children, Reese Bentley, Sidney Plaskon and Jack Plaskon, and his son Jimmy Barth circulated with the crowd. Jimmy was the main chef for the BBQ in the heavily decorated spacious garage with red, white and blue balloons and banners creating a festive atmosphere. Tables were available for those who were eating and music was played, "oldies but goodies primarily from the 1950s." More than 70 meal tickets were sold before the drawing occurred.

Raffle tickets were sold for a seven-day stay at the Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach Resort in Cabo, Mexico. Shortly after 2 p.m., Grace Barth, great-niece of Allen and daughter of Nick and Katie Barth, selected the winning ticket which Jay Gossett announced as John Wagner. A case (six-pack) of Cam Oil was also raffled and the winner of that item was Matt Wagner.

Future plans for the Studebaker Garage were summarized this way by Jill Plaskon: "I will own and run it in the same manner that Dad did. We aren't changing anything, except moving my hair salon into one of the front rooms. We plan to continue our annual car show, host events, car clubs, weddings, dances, and music events. We will also be offering heated indoor storage for antique cars to be viewed in a museum setting. We are looking forward to continuing the promotion and growth of the small and mighty community of Harrington, Washington."

Summer Reading at Library

The Summer Reading program Thursday began at 2 p.m. with four children, but shortly after 3 p.m. another 12 students arrived from Vacation Bible School. Continuing to utilize the STEM program, the children learned about engineering and how it differs from science. They learned about the seven modern wonders of the world. Their activity was to build a tower as tall as possible out of spaghetti noodles and marshmallows, making sure to follow the engineering design process. The children enjoyed the hands-on activity.


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