April 17, 2015

We spoke this week with operations personnel from CORP (Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad) regarding their newly re-activated railroad line. The recent occasional trains through Ashland are work trains hauling supplies up line to where CORP is repairing/improving track. The number of work trains will fluctuate over the next several months. Beginning this fall, once the line is fully operational, CORP will run two trains per day, Monday – Friday about 12 hours apart. CORP tells us that 99% of the goods transported will be lumber related; no hazardous materials, no crude oil, etc.  CORP will begin doing community outreach once they finalize the schedule. They will contact schools, newspapers, etc. and we’ve asked to be included on the outreach list and to partner with them in the outreach effort.
The City of Bend this week began enforcing its new rules regarding short-term home rentals (click here). Oregon Public Broadcasting ran a piece on the new regulations this week and it’s clear by the graphic at the bottom of the article just how rapid the rise in popularity of these traveler accommodations has been.

Ann Seltzer (management analyst in Admin), Dave Tygerson (Electric Department) and Dan Gunter (Street Division), met with Tim Elbert of Four Seasons Nursery this week and walked the downtown area to view the light poles for the hanging flower baskets.  Initially we thought we could accommodate 56 hanging baskets on 28 poles but Dave, Dan and Tim believe we can accommodate a total of 67 baskets on 34 poles.  The increased cost can be covered by Admin (General Fund) project dollars that have been appropriated but will not be spent before the end of the biennium.  Four Seasons Nursery is still on schedule to install the brackets in the next two weeks and we should see hanging baskets the first week of May and the additional baskets shortly thereafter.

Fire Department
We received great news this week regarding the City’s ISO classification.  After a recent review by Insurance Services Office, Inc. (ISO), of our Public Protection Classification (PPC) score, the Fire Department has been moved from a Class 4 to a 3. The lower the class number, the better – Class 1 generally represents superior property fire protection, and Class 10 indicates that the area’s fire suppression program does not meet ISO’s minimum criteria. The Fire Department asked for a review of the city’s PPC after ISO changed its schedule slightly to allow more credit for the staffing level of responding mutual aid departments as well as a community’s effort in fire code enforcement, fire investigations, public fire safety education and preparedness.  Ashland is particularly strong with the latter.  About four years ago the Fire Department reinitiated fire inspections.  Target hazard inspections were reinstated a year ago, and AFR has had success with citizen emergency preparedness through AIR workshops and the Firewise Communities program. All of these programs helped to lower the overall PPC score.
The City’s PPC classification is a computation of scores on the efficiency and capacity of the dispatch system (10%), water system (40%) and the fire department (50%). PPC scores affect the fire insurance rates that most commercial occupancies and many residential occupancies pay.
The primary deficiencies in the City’s scoring remain the same, poor staffing level relative to population and call volume, lack of a ladder truck, no pre-plan program and the training score (though that did come up some). Addressing these, even in part, would undoubtedly raise the Fire Department to a Class 2.  As can be seen in the brief summary of scoring below, only 1.82 additional points are needed to achieve a 2:

    Earned Credit Credit Available
Emergency Reporting    
  Credit for Emergency Reporting 3.00 3.00
  Credit for Telecommunications 3.79 4.00
  Credit for Dispatch Circuits 1.80 3.00
  Credit for Receiving and Handling Fire Alarms 8.89 10.00
Water Supply    
  Credit for Supply System 25.83 30.00
  Credit for Hydrants 2.55 3.00
  Credit for Inspection and Flow Testing 7.00 7.00
  Credit for Water Supply 35.38 40.00
Fire Department    
  Credit for Engine Companies 6.00 6.00
  Credit for Reserve Pumpers 0.30 0.50
  Credit for Pumper Capacity 3.00 3.00
  Credit for Ladder Service 0.84 4.00
  Credit for Reserve Ladder 0.00 0.50
  Credit for Deployment Analysis 6.22 10.00
  Credit for Company Personnel 7.50 15.00
  Credit for Training 7.60 9.00
  Credit for Operational Considerations 2.00 2.00
  Credit for Fire Department 33.46 50.00

This is a big accomplishment for the Fire Department and the efforts and dedication of AF&R staff that made this possible.

Public Works Department
This week the crews from the Water Division completed the annual cleaning of the City-maintained portion of the Talent Irrigation District (TID) ditch.  Every year, before irrigation water is sent into the ditch, it is cleaned to reduce the debris that enters the system. Without this cleaning, any debris that’s fallen or washed into the ditch over the winter will potentially find its way into the irrigation systems of the 182 Ashland users of the TID water. The portion of the ditch the City is responsible for begins on Starlite Place and continues for 3.63 miles through town.  The Water Division is not large enough to clean the ditch and still maintain the distribution system, so the City hires a work release crew from the County to help out. It takes about a week-and-a-half to clean the ditch from one end to the other. This year a little over eight dump truck loads of material were removed from the ditch.
Typically, the water in the ditch is used for irrigation and is untreated water from Howard Prairie and Hyatt Lakes.  However, in a drought year like last year (and it’s looking like there’ll be another one this year) the City is able to pump significant amounts of water from the TID ditch to the water treatment plant. Once at the plant, the TID water goes through the same process as water from Reeder Reservoir, supplementing the water supply. The pump system to send water to the water treatment plant was originally installed in the mid ‘70s due to drought conditions.  During the drought last year, the City added 180 million gallons of TID water to the City’s water supply; the equivalent of more than 40 days of supply at average summer consumption rates. 

Police Department
Police Department last night ran another plain clothes operation in the downtown area.  APD has been doing these operations monthly to try to combat some of the neighborhood issues on Will Dodge Way and to address some of the ongoing issues related to the downtown bars. Last night APD cited or arrested people for open container, drinking in public and disorderly conduct. They conducted several bar checks, and found no problems. Additionally, they reported one drunk driver, who was arrested by a patrol officer.

Officer Jason Billings won the department's quarterly employee award. Jason brings a great attitude to the team, and is constantly trying to bring new ideas and motivation to his teammates.

Previous Updates:

April 10, 2015

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