Street/sewer project shapes up; airport work blows up
Last updated 5/25/2019 at 1:56pm
May 7 special meeting
A special meeting of the Odessa Town Council was held May 7 in the public library at the community center. Steve Nelson of CenturyWest Engineering and Rick Rose of the USDA were present via telephone conference call. A problem had developed regarding approval of the loan amount for completion of the town’s infrastructure project involving a shortfall of nearly $23,000 for water meter replacement. Partnering with private banks to borrow the loan amount would incur additional interest and fees to the tune of approximately $8 to $10 thousand. So Nelson suggested that a considerable savings could be achieved if the town could come up with the additional $23,000 to get the USDA loan approved.
Any grants already received and town in-kind payments would be spent first before any loan dollars would be applied. If it turns out that less than the expected amount is spent on the project, backup equipment could also be purchased with the remainder.
Since 90 percent of the project cost is covered by grants, Nelson said, it only makes sense to do as much as possible to improve efficiency in the entire system.
Nelson said the current piping beneath the streets of Odessa loses 13 to 20 percent of its water to leakage. Many water meters in town are more than 40 years old and no longer efficient. It takes public works crew members 10 minutes to read each meter. New meters that can be read automatically and are under warranty for 20 years would save the town $60 per meter per year. Since about 14 meters fail completely each year on average and must be replaced anyway, replacing them all only makes sense.
Council members voted unanimously to approve the disbursement of the $23,000.
The second issue prompting the special meeting was a conflict between the sub-contractor wrapping up unfinished work at the municipal airport and crop dusters needing to fly and tend to their customers. The sub-contractor has returned home to Oregon leaving the job unfinished following a heated exchange with town officials, airport manager Stan Dammel and NW Ag pilot Fred Meise.
According to Mayor Bill Crossley, the town had agreed last November at the urging of CenturyWest engineer Kurt Addicott to give the sub-contractor additional time to finish the job during the spring months. The revised contract authorizing the extension included certain times designated for closure of the airport to allow the work to be performed. The times originally stated in the fall should have been changed to accommodate springtime use of the airport by aerial applicators. But neither the engineers, town officials, the town attorney or the sub-contractor apparently noticed this discrepancy when the contract was issued and signed.
Conflict arose, initially between the sub-contractor and the aerial applicator, and was followed by a heated discussion among several more parties that ultimately led to law enforcement being called in to intervene.
May 13 meeting
At the regularly scheduled May 13 meeting of the town council, tempers had cooled considerably, and plans were being discussed to reschedule the finishing work required of the sub-contractor. NW Ag’s work has been completed, so there is no longer any conflict about when the airport can be closed to perform the work. It was hoped that the sub-contractor could be induced to return and complete the job.
CenturyWest’s Steve Nelson also attended the May 13 meeting and reported that a comprehensive sewer plan for Odessa was being completed. He said he has applied for grants to pay for a higher capacity downtown lift station, since the current one provides only 12 minutes of lead time in the event of a failure before basements can begin to fill with sewage. He has also applied for grants to purchase backup generators for the lift stations.
Nelson said he spoke with hospital administrator Mo Sheldon (major sewer improvements are planned for the medical campus) about holding an open house to explain to the public the scope of the project which began two years ago and is expected to extend for another two to three years at a cost of approximately $5 million when all is said and done.
Fire chief Don Strebeck reported that tall weeds need to be cut in 33 yards within the town limits. Letters will go out to property owners. He also said all fire trucks have been dispatched to their stations for the summer. A burn ban will take effect beginning in June.
Police chief Brent Dell reported that a K-9 unit has been offered to the Odessa Police Department, a female German Shepherd that is currently undergoing obedience training in Oregon. Officer Les Jimerson will become the dog’s handler and will reside with him and his wife at their home in Odessa. Once the obedience training is completed, Jimerson and the dog will together attend a drug detection training course beginning in early June.
For public works, Rod Webster reported that fats and oils draining into the sewer system from the meat processing plant are again causing problems. He has been in touch with management, and together they are working on a solution. From the Association of Washington Cities, the department has received a $1,000 grant to trim up the evergreen tree on the grounds of the Old Town Hall. An additional $4,000 grant has been approved for asphalt to help with the upcoming roadwork projects.
The newly formed Nuisance Committee, consisting of the mayor, Bill Crossley, police chief Brent Dell, community volunteer Dave Steward and council member Marlene Kramer, will begin working with property owners to help them clean up some of the unsightly accumulations of no-longer-used items in yards around town.
The next council meeting will be held Tuesday, May 28, at 7 p.m. in the public library.