January 9, 2015
We have been notified by the Bonneville Power Administration that we’re in line to receive an additional $15,000 in Energy Efficiency Implementation funding in this fiscal year. This additional funding comes from a pool of unallocated funds under BPA’s control and is distributed to utilities under a formula that looks only at the number of utilities requesting the additional funds and the size of the utilities’ own EEI budgets. The formula does not look at the need for or use of the money. We will use this money to help offset some costs related to the SOU dorm project that were paid for out of our Electric Fund.
Here’s a link to one of the funniest newspaper editorials I’ve read in a long time. It’s about a councilman (essentially a county commissioner) in Frederick, MD, who threatened to sue his local newspaper for using his name without his permission. (Pay attention to the first letter of each paragraph.)
The end-of-year crime statistics show we had 628 reported part one crimes in 2014 compared to 694 in 2013; a 9% decrease. The overall numbers will change as late reports come in but the percentage of decrease should not change a great deal. The biggest change was in thefts of bikes, which had more than doubled in number from 62 in 2010 to 138 in 2013. APD saw a 21% decrease in 2014 when compared with 2013. We believe our bike decoy program is the primary reason for the turnaround.
This week APD’s newest police officer, Jason Billings, started working. Jason worked for the Beaverton PD for the last nine years and was an officer in Ashland for three years prior to moving to Beaverton. We are very happy that Jason has decided to come back to Ashland. Another experienced lateral police officer from New Mexico is in a background check to fill the vacancy left by Corey Falls’ election as sheriff.
The State Office of Emergency Management Services has identified hospitals in the state that will act as Ebola assessment facilities. As luck would have it, Ashland Community Hospital was chosen for southwest Oregon. (See map below.) If Ebola activity stays at the current level this is a non-event. If there is increase in activity, AF&R will be the primary transporting agency along with MercyFlights. It will also mean several regional training exercises in which we’ll be involved.
The Waste Water Treatment Plant uses two centrifuges to separate the solids out of the liquid. Earlier this summer, one of the two centrifuges began to have operational issues leading us to determine it was due for a major overhaul. The centrifuges spin at high speed to separate the liquids and solids, and then the solids are collected in a dump truck and disposed of at the Dry Creek Landfill. Due to its age and use, the bearings were showing signs of wear and the degree of vibration had increased, indicating an issue with balance. Both centrifuges were installed when the treatment plant was upgraded in the late 90’s and have now been in service for over fifteen years.
The two centrifuges are pictured below. These units are located on the second floor of the dewatering building at the treatment plant. Before going through the centrifuges, sludge is separated from the water in clarifiers, and then stored in a holding tank. Once the holding tank is full enough, the sludge is processed though the centrifuge system. The sludge enters the spinning drum of the centrifuge through the pipe with the yellow label seen in the picture above. After going through the centrifuge, the solids drop out the far end of the machine into a dump truck waiting below. The remaining water is then sent to the oxidation ditches to be reprocessed.
The main rotating assembly of the centrifuge was removed and sent to a repair facility in San Leandro, California. While at that facility the rotor assembly was rebuilt, including new bearings and rebalancing. This overhaul took several weeks and we did not receive the rebuilt components until early December. At that time we began to install the components and upgrade the control system. The entire dewatering system is computer controlled and was also due to be upgraded. The installation, upgrades and reprogramming was completed a couple weeks ago. We had a couple programming issues to work out in the beginning but now things seem to be running as expected and the system has been running trouble free for over a week. The two centrifuges were installed at the same time and have roughly the same amount of hours on them, so we are now planning to send the second centrifuge out for the same overhaul. We expect the rebuilt centrifuge should run trouble free while the second unit is out for service but if not, the agreements worked out with our original contingency plan are still in place.
The Community Development Department completed its review and issued the building permit for the renovation of the existing OSF Scene Production Facility, a historic contributing building at 30 South First Street, into a new rehearsal center. The application involves replacing the hodgepodge of windows, AC units and storefront entry with more historical, and energy efficient products while leaving the historic "bones" of the building intact. The proposal also involves an extensive interior renovation to create a rehearsal center which will allow for observation of rehearsals as a classroom or seminar activity, but will not be an additional venue for ticketed performances. The rehearsal center is expected to support the existing theater by providing a central location where directors, performers and staff can rehearse and work in proximity to the theaters. Staffing is expected to be up to 100 employees
Board and Commission updates
At the Planning Commission's regular meeting on Tuesday, January 13th, staff will present a draft ordinance that, with approval of a conditional use permit, would allow a homeowner the ability to lease a single short-term accommodation. This use could be available to property owners in many residential zones, including single family zoning districts (R-1). Given that the scope of the operation is far more limited than the city’s existing traveler’s accommodation ordinance, the proposed single accommodation is defined as an “accessory traveler’s accommodation”. Highlights of the draft code amendment include restricting the conditional use to owner-occupied properties, permitting not more than one accommodation per property, prohibiting the provision of kitchen facilities in the accommodation, disallowing the use in combination with a home occupation permit and setting a maximum number of individuals residing on the property at one time. Based upon direction provided by the Commission, staff will prepare a revised draft ordinance. As required by the municipal code, a formal public hearing on the draft ordinance will be scheduled at a future date before the Commission. At that time, the Commission will again take public testimony, deliberate on the code amendments and forward a recommendation to the City Council.
At its regular monthly meeting, the Historic Commission discussed the importance of the RR Depot building on Tolman Creek Road (recently highlighted in news reports). The Commission is hopeful that there is an entity willing to save the only remaining O&C Depot building in the U.S. In addition, the Historic Commission would like to see the City of Ashland and interested community members put all of their efforts into the preservation of the Carter Memorial Fountain Statue (Iron Mike). It is historically significant to generations of Ashlanders. Grants may be available through the SOS (Save our Statues – National Institute for Conservation), National Endowment for the Humanities, National Trust for Historic Preservation, State Historic Preservation Office and possibly the Oregon Arts Commission.