June 6, 2014
We begin this week with an article from the Daily Tidings in 1973, given to me by City Attorney Dave Lohman. It has a familiar ring to it.
Below is an e-mail I received last week from a local citizen, praising our customer service:
From: Morgan Hunt
Sent: Friday, May 30, 2014 10:23 AM
Subject: Jobs well done!
Dear Mr. Kanner,
I've lived in Ashland almost 10 years and this is the first time I've felt compelled to write to the City about job performance. I've been in the middle of a household move. Due to that and happenstance, I've interacted with certain City employees who made a real difference in my life. I thought the least I could do was write you and let you know what a good job they're doing.
First, there was a road construction project on Mountain Avenue, a street I drove on often. I must have gone by that road construction at least 10 times, maybe more. Every single time I did, the road crew folks had things well under control. They were courteous, alert, and most importantly, really knew how to do their jobs. They kept the inconvenience of waiting to a minimum. They were fair and they kept traffic flowing better than I've ever seen on a construction project like that.
Secondly, I called your Utilities Dept. about 5 different times to have utilities turned off in my name at the home I was selling, and turned on at the place I'm renting. There was a mix-up with one rental deal that fell through, and a delay in escrow date, both of which necessitated extra calls to your Utilities folks. Never once were they curt or snippy with me about the back-and-forth. They were always businesslike, appropriate and polite. I wish I'd written down the names of the people I talked to, but my impression was that no matter who answered the phone, I would be treated courteously. That kind of customer service is rare and refreshing!
Last but not least, when I moved into my new apartment, I signed up for cable with Ashland Home TV. They sent a woman named Dena out to get my TV cable and wireless internet service hooked up. She was both kind and efficient. She had to leave for her next job before everything was functional, because I had to pick up a new modem from Ashland Home TV. Dena called later in the day to check and make sure I'd been able to get the modem working and that everything was functional. It really impressed me that she followed up like that.
All of these City employees exceeded expectations. They really deserve some recognition for it.
(The Dena referenced above is Dena Adame, telecommunications tech for AFN.)
You may have noticed that we have created a new link on the front page of the City web site for the Council look-ahead (http://www.ashland.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=16293). This should make it easier for citizens to find information about upcoming Council issues.
APD this week had phone discussions with the staffs of two U.S. Senators, Claire McCaskill (D – MO) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D – NY), as well as President Obama’s chief advisor on violence against women, regarding the You Have Options program. Sen. McCaskill wants Detective Carrie Hull to sit on a expert panel at a discussion at the Senate office building in DC on June 23rd. Senator Gillibrand wants to discuss possible legislation related to the You Have Options program and the White House wants to arrange a meeting between APD and officials from the Departments of Justice and Education about the program. We are hoping that all three meetings can be scheduled for the same week. The Chief is scheduled to be in New York on vacation that week but will be with Carrie attending at least the last meeting and possibly all three depending on how the final schedule works out.
Our contractor on the TAP project, Pilot Rock Excavation, continues to make incredible progress. They are laying close to 1,000 feet of pipe a day and hope to get to as much as 1,200 feet a day. That puts phase 1 on track to be done well within the June 27 deadline. We remain optimistic that the TAP line will be operational by our target date of August 15, if not sooner.
Reeder Reservoir remains 100% full, but probably not for much longer. Yesterday (June 5) we came closer to water use exceeding in-flow than we have all year, as 4.37 million gallons game in to the reservoir and total production (usage) hit 4.11 million gallons. You may have noticed signs going up around town urging people to use water wisely, as we’re now pushing our “wise water use” campaign into high gear. Public Works Director Mike Faught and Water Conservation Specialist Julie Smitherman appeared on the Mayor’s Town Hall TV show on Wednesday (which you can see by clicking here) to talk about the drought and water issues.
Here’s an update on other projects the Public Works Department is currently working on:
1. Effluent Outfall Relocation Study: CH2M Hill has started collecting data relevant to the outfall relocation study and design from Waste Water Treatment Plant Supervisor Dave Gies. Their project team will be onsite June 9 and 10 for a site investigation of the proposed outfall relocation from the wastewater master plan and also explore the existing area and wetlands around the treatment plant that have the potential to be developed into full wetlands in order to meet our near field temperature requirements. We are also scheduled to attend the Parks Commission study session on June 16 to discuss the project with them again, as Parks-managed property surrounds the treatment plant and we agreed to partner in design during the master plan process. We are also developing a public outreach component to this study/design in order to assure groups and affected parties the project will not create any environmental damage to the sensitive areas and Ashland pond.
2. Airport Improvement Project-taxi lane extension: The 100% design submittals are currently being reviewed by the FAA and Engineering expects to bid the project within the next week. Construction is expected to start in September and last approximately 30 days.
3. N. Mountain asphalt overlay/rehabilitation project: The plans are almost final and ready for bidding. Additional areas of dig-outs will be identified by the engineer prior to completing the plans. Engineering has contracted with a landscape architect to design a dry riverbed with drought tolerant plants for the median strips through this section of N. Mountain. This will reduce the water consumption required due to the existing grass medians. Engineering expects to bid the project in late summer for an early fall work period.
4. Road Diet restriping: Final restriping plans are being generated in order for ODOT to approve recommended changes and then restripe the system in thermoplastic. Staff is hoping to finalize drawings, gain approval and have ODOT restripe the corridor within the next few weeks.
5. Staff is working on the TGM grant for the Siskiyou Boulevard pedestrian safety study as approved by Council and recommended as a high priority in the TSP. The application is due June 13th and at the recommendation of the Council and Transportation Commission, the corridor is being extended to capture the length of Siskiyou between Sherman and Ashland streets and also on Ashland St. down to Walker Ave.
6. Chautauqua Walk: Engineering is working on the design plans for replacing the walkway along with incorporating the changes the Electric Department needs in that area. The plan will include new concrete sidewalk and curbs, new handrail along with a new handicap ramp to the crosswalk. Staff is also investigating the possibility of installing heat matting underneath the concrete to keep the walkway from freezing in winter as this area receives very little sunlight. The Shakespeare Festival has agreed to cover the electric charges associated with the heated walkway. Construction should occur in winter when OSF is closed for the season.
7. Lori Lane connection project: Bids have been opened for the alley connection project. This project will connect N. Main to Lori lane with a 16' wide alley adjacent to Colwell Chiropractic. This project was engineered after the Hersey/Wimer intersection realignment, as the City was obtaining an access easement across the property that fronts Lori Lane in order to create the connection. Council will be asked at the June 3, 2014 to approve awarding a construction contract with Pilot Rock Excavation for the work.
8. Substation Landscaping: Covey Pardee is almost finished with planting and irrigation plans to remedy and improve the landscaping that currently provides a visual buffer (as required) around the power substation on Mountain Ave. The Parks Department has removed a couple of the dead trees and has a couple more to remove. Parks will implement the planting and irrigation plan in fall/winter of this year.
9. Downtown Beautification: Engineering is awaiting a topographic survey of the road and sidewalk section of Lithia Way between Oak and Pioneer Streets in order to properly design the recommended improvement of adding irrigation and street trees along the gas station frontage. Terra Survey is also performing historical research in order to show correct right of way locations and properties at the corner of Pioneer and Lithia Way (adjacent to the convenience store). The project will also include removal of additional asphalt areas and replacement with concrete, on Oak St. and Pioneer St. adjacent to the gas station.
10. DEQ CWSRF Loan for wastewater-new oxidation ditch: Staff is working with Keller Associates to finalize the required environmental documentation in order to proceed with finalizing the low interest loan documents for a new oxidation ditch and priority pipeline improvements. This loan package also has piping of the TID ditch as the sponsorship option that allows the City to meet the low interest requirement. Once the environmental work is complete staff can work with DEQ to finalize the loan and take the documents before City Council for approval.
11. Water Treatment Plant Security Upgrades: Staff will have Jackson County work crews remove brush from the proposed fence line in late June so the fencing contractor can begin work installing the perimeter fence at the treatment plan. Staff is also working with Water and Electric to set up for installation of security cameras at the treatment plant and dam.