August 14, 2015
First, a quick update on the Pioneer Mike statue: Using the funds approved by the Budget Committee and Council this spring, we have entered into a contract with a mold-maker who is now on her way back to Storm Lake, Iowa, to make a mold from a Pioneer Mike twin in the Hawkeye State. As you may recall from George Kramer’s report last April, the statue in Storm Lake is the only remaining Pioneer Mike in the world (besides ours). The mold will be trucked back to Ashland and a bronze cast of the statue made locally. We’re hoping to install the new and improved Pioneer Mike in late October, but that will depend on how quickly we can make repairs and structural reinforcements to the Carter Memorial Fountain on the plaza. As you know, our water crews are very busy with more pressing matters right now. We’ll be certain to do a public unveiling and celebration when Pioneer Mike finally returns to his perch.
Ashland Police, Building Official Jeremy Payne and Code Compliance Officer Kevin Flynn, with assistance from Electric Department Lead Lineman Dave Tygerson, resolved a tricky and extremely dangerous code violation situation this week. A house in the Oak Knoll neighborhood had been burning out electric meters; three over a six month period, including two in one week. Testing by the Electric Department determined that the problem was on the customer’s side of the meter. This led to an inspection by the Building Division that determined the house had been illegally rewired to accommodate an indoor marijuana growing operation. According to Jeremy, it was only a matter of time before the house caught fire. He immediately ordered that power to the house be cut off. Inspection by Kevin determined there were 115 plants in the house. The matter was turned over to the police, however the District Attorney’s Office has indicated it will not prosecute. The house has been occupied by a renter who has shut down the grow operation, since power will not be restored until the electric system is restored to a code-compliant state. (The owner is in Germany and was unaware of how the house was being used.) My thanks and appreciation to all staff involved for their handling of a situation that could have been disastrous if we had not intervened.
The msn.com travel web site has ranked Ashland as one of the 30 best small cities in America. Click here to see the web page. (I’ve been to some of the cities ranked higher than Ashland and, well, frankly, we’re better than they are.)
Public Works Department
This week, the Street Division of the Public Works Department worked on one of the common maintenance activities that helps keep local waterways clean. Truckloads of debris swept off City streets by the street sweepers were hauled to the landfill. All debris picked up by the sweepers must be disposed of in the landfill to be disposed of properly. Dump trucks are loaded at the city lot on B Street for what is about a two hour roundtrip to the Dry Creek landfill just outside of White City. In a normal day each driver can haul four to five truckloads to the landfill and dispose of 10 cubic yards of material per trip for a total of 40 to 50 cubic yards. The Street Division also has a transfer trailer that doubles the carrying capacity, allowing one driver to dispose of up to 100 cubic yards of material in one work day.
How does this debris disposal keep the waterways clean? The purpose of the street sweepers is to remove any material from the road surface that would otherwise find its way into our storm drain system. Once in a storm drain, little can be done to keep debris from reaching the creeks here in town. So in a proactive effort to be environmentally responsible, Ashland and many other cities have had street sweeping programs in place for many, many years. Ashland currently has two street sweepers, both vacuum type sweepers that essentially work like an industrial strength vacuum cleaner to suck foreign material from the road surface. After the debris had been sucked up, it’s deposited in a hopper on the street sweeper for temporary storage at our B Street yard. Each sweeper can hold four to six cubic yards of material. The amount of material picked up on any given day varies greatly depending on the time of year. During the summer the amount of debris picked up is considerably less than the fall and winter but what is picked up tends to be dirtier. This is because the summer months don’t have a lot of leaves on the ground so a majority of what’s picked up is trash, dirt, grease, etc. During the summer months the sweeper may pick up one full hopper load per day. In the fall and winter the amount of material picked up increases significantly due to all the fallen leaves. The Streets Division typically will run two street sweepers in the fall and winter to try to keep up with the falling leaves. In the fall and winter, the hopper can be full in as little as half an hour.
In a typical year the Street Division will remove 3,000 to 3,500 cubic yards of material from Ashland’s streets. That’s equivalent to a full size tennis court piled about 30 feet deep. Without the street sweepers most, if not all, of that material would wash into the storm drain system and eventually into the creeks in town, finding its way to Bear Creek, the Rogue River, and ultimately the Pacific Ocean.
Ashland Police Department was very well represented at the Implicit Bias training held yesterday hosted by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and SO Health-E. This is a timely and important topic, and one that we must get behind if we, as a national law enforcement profession, are going to re-build trust with the community. Here is a link to some of the implicit bias tests if you are interested in checking it out.
APD received some great pictures and a thank you card from the YMCA (below). Officer Ashley Fite and Community Service Officer Kip Keeton assisted with the Y’s “Kids Day” this year, as we try to every year.