Air quality will fluctuate throughout the weekend. Please go to the Oregon Department of Environmental - Air Quality Monitoring Data for up-to-date information on air quality. Also visit for more air quality resources. 

November 21, 2014

November 21, 2014

You may have noticed that Knife River is doing some work on ODOT’s property at the location of the proposed Siskiyou Welcome Center on I-5. The work entails constructing a ditch that will convey water from the property to neighboring property owners for irrigation use. This was part of the property acquisition agreement between ODOT and the prior owner. ODOT is also constructing a fence to keep cattle from a neighboring property off of their property. This work does not relate directly to construction of the Welcome Center.

A recent report by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council finds that the kilowatts “generated” by regional energy efficiency efforts in 2013 well exceeded the targets in the final year of the 6th Northwest Power and Conservation Plan. The region achieved 268 average megawatts of energy efficiency according to the Council, or enough energy savings to power more than 180,000 homes. Click here for a copy of the report. Ashland is proud to be a member of the NW Energy Coalition that worked on these energy efficiency measures.

The Council heard testimony Tuesday night about an incident on Will Dodge Way involving a fire in a dumpster and the lack of police or fire response. According to dispatch records, the incident was not brought to police or fire attention as it was occurring. Dispatch records show there was a subject stop by police at 10:06 p.m., but there were no calls about the dumpster fire until after 11 a.m. the following morning. Police and Fire both responded but by the time they arrived, the dumpster had already been emptied. On a related note, dispatch records show six entries of officer activity during the night time hours from November 13th into the 14th, including foot patrol in Will Dodge Way and the plaza, along with traffic and subject stops in the immediate area.

Police Department
On Thursday, Officer Aaron Rosas, who is our officer assigned to the Medford Area Drug & Gang Enforcement team, served a search warrant on a home in the 400 block of Wightman. Two suspects were arrested and two ounces of methamphetamine, two grams of heroin and over six pounds of marijuana were seized.​

Also on Thursday, officers assisted McMinnville PD on a custodial interference case. In this case the father ran off with a child after the mother had been granted custody. Our officers had identified a possible location based on cell phone records and were on their way to make contact when the suspect drove to the station and turned himself and the missing child in. This was notable largely because it had become a big news story in the Portland metro area and we were contacted by several Portland media outlets interested in the story.

Public Works
The Water Division responded to three mainline leaks this week, the latest one occurring on Pioneer St. directly underneath the concrete crosswalk connecting the Shakespeare Festival theaters. Leaks like these seem to be fairly common at this time of year, possibly because of the changing ground and water temperatures. The Pioneer St. repair did require removal of a portion of the concrete crosswalk. Engineering staff is now working on getting the concrete crosswalk repaired.

We are working with the State Historic Preservation Office on repairs to the Iron Mike statue. We have requested an estimate from local historic preservation consultant George Kramer for the cost of his services to help us develop an RFP to send to the various art conservators. Once we’ve agreed on a price and scope, we can develop the RFP to send to the conservators that will meet all the requirements. Water Division Supervisor Steve Walker has learned a little more about Iron Mike since we took him down. It turns out he was cast in zinc, which is not very common anymore but was very common at the time of his casting. We also believe he was cast in New York. Right now significant portions of Mike are fiberglass, after he was repaired in the 70’s (we think), and although they did a good job at that time, it will probably make it more difficult to repair this time.

This week the Street Division of the Public Works Department began installing the snow plow and sanding equipment on its trucks. The pickups operated by the Street Division are used for many things, and at this time of year they’re geared up for snow plowing and sanding. We currently operate three pickups that have plow and sanding equipment installed and when necessary, a fourth truck can be set up. We also have a sanding unit that can be installed in a dump truck, and this unit is capable of carrying a much larger load of cinders (the small red lava rock used for sanding the icy roads) than the pickups. Because of its size and weight, it is unsafe to use in the snow and ice on some of the steep or narrow streets we have here in Ashland. The dump truck is typically only used on the larger arterial streets where the slope is relatively low.

Last year in early December we had a particularly cold snow storm. There was a fair amount of frustration with the response to that storm and we were as frustrated as anybody. That storm was different from those we typically see, as temperatures were extremely cold for this area and the majority of the snow fell in the afternoon. Our equipment was ready and we had all our trucks out as soon as there was enough snow to plow but because the snow started falling in the afternoon, traffic was very heavy and most of the roads were too busy to plow. Our typical storm occurs late at night or early in the morning, when traffic is usually very light. In addition to the crowded roads, several accidents happened in a very short amount of time. Our plow trucks were immediately called to the areas where the accidents occurred to help make the situation as safe as possible. During that storm, traffic was at a near standstill in many locations; North Main, for example, was clogged with vehicles for several hours. Traffic coming into town and going out of town was severely restricted by vehicles that had spun out on the slope between the railroad bridge and Valley View Rd. Because of this traffic, we were unable to plow that road and, many other roads were beset with similar conditions. Another somewhat unusual situation caused by the extremes of that storm was below freezing temperatures for an extended period of time. The snow that fell turned to ice almost as soon as it hit the ground and was compacted by traffic. In a normal winter storm in this area, the temperatures rarely stay below freezing for more than a day, giving us the opportunity to remove the snow and ice when the temperatures warm up. With this storm the temperatures stayed well below freezing, even getting below zero a couple times, for more than a week. Our equipment, and most plow equipment we know of, is incapable of removing ice. Salt and chemical deicing is something rarely used in Oregon and something we are not equipped to do. We were left with only the ability to add cinders to improve the traction. During that storm we had our eight person crew working in shifts, 24 hours per day to do everything we could to minimize the impact caused by that storm.

If and when we get winter weather this year, we will have our crews and equipment ready to respond. Our priorities for plowing are based on volume of use and keeping access to the hospital open. A map of our plowing priorities can be found on the City website under the ‘More Popular Pages’ list, or by clicking here. We try to plow every street in town, although it sometimes takes some time to get to the streets with a lower volume of use. We continually monitor weather forecasts and when storms or freezing temperatures are predicted for our area, we have personnel available to respond 24 hours per day. We also work very closely with the Police Department since they are out all over town 24 hours a day already and they will notify our crews when they find areas in town where road conditions are becoming a concern.

Fire Department
As one of the regional EMS transporting agencies, AF&R may be required to transport an actual or suspected Ebola patient. This has required the acquisition of additional personal protective equipment and training on such. This training was recently completed on all three shifts. Below are some pictures of that training.

According to Jackson County Public Health, the person who was being monitored locally for Ebola this month after returning from one of the epidemic countries in west Africa has successfully completed their 21 days of surveillance and is no longer at risk for developing the disease.

Community Development
The past week the Oregon Shakespeare Festival held its second public meeting to discuss the project to renovate the brick courtyard, the area outside the Angus Bowmer and Allen Elizabethan theaters. Two concept alternatives were discussed that the design team has been working on since the last meeting in September. Public comments were gathered to inform a preferred alternative and assist in developing schematic designs. The final concept will be made public early this winter. Community Development staff has been meeting regularly with the design team and OSF representatives to discuss issues related to the design of the public space, including accessibility of the site, general pedestrian movements throughout the site and to and from theater entrances and crowd overflow upon Pioneer Street. One of the design concepts is shown below.

At its regular meeting on December 9th, the Planning Commission will hold a public hearing to review the second phase of development for the "First Place Subdivision - Plaza Central East & Plaza North”  on Lithia Way at First Street.  Plaza Central East will consist of a three-story, 33,000 square foot mixed-use building. The new building will be similar in concept and function to the building recently completed immediately to the west along Lithia Way. The first floor will be commercial space and three residences, while each of the two upper floors will have six residences. Plaza North is proposed for construction immediately to the north, facing First Street and across from the Post Office parking area. This is proposed to be a three-story, mixed use building consisting of approximately 10,000 square feet. The majority of the ground floor is devoted to commercial space, while the second and thirds floors will house residences.​

Previous Update
November 14, 2014

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