August 21, 2015
The Conservation Division recently was recently audited by the Bonneville Power Administration’s Energy Efficiency Department. A large chunk of the invoice project files requested by BPA for manual on-site audit were residential, due mostly to the fact that the majority of our energy efficiency rebates are residential. Conservation/Energy Analyst Dan Cunningham bore the brunt of getting the documents together and in order, and working with the BPA auditor. The auditor was very complementary of the extra details maintained in our files and confirmed that the City is in compliance with all federal requirements. Both Dan and commercial Conservation/Energy Analyst Larry Giardina deserve thanks for their outstanding efforts.
Responses are due next Wednesday (August 26) to the City’s request for proposals to conduct a greenhouse gas inventory; the first step in our Climate Change and Energy Action Plan process. We are cautiously optimistic that we’ll get four or five proposals.
The newest alternative energy addition to the City’s fleet was put into service this week. It’s a Ford CMax Energi for the Conservation Division. It is a hybrid, but it’s a bit different in that the driver can operate it in all-electric mode rather than the vehicle deciding when it switches between gas and electric. This allows us to drive it pretty much exclusively in all-electric mode for all daily miles and only use the gas engine when traveling outside of the valley on occasional training-related trips.
Here’s an interesting article from the Oregonian regarding an Oregon Court of Appeals ruling that the odor of marijuana smoke is not legally “offensive.” The odor from marijuana grows in residential zones has been an ongoing code enforcement problem for the City and an ordinance that would limit outdoor growing in such zones is heading to the Planning Commission for study session discussion next Tuesday, August 25. (Look for this as an Open City Hall topic next week.) We do receive occasional complaints about public marijuana consumption, particularly on the plaza, in the area in front of City Hall and at the entrance to Lithia Park. While marijuana possession and use is legal, public consumption is not and the Police Department does plan to start cracking down on it.
Here’s a link to a great article about Ashland that recently appeared in the Los Angeles Times under the headline “Bucolic Ashland, Ore., is a Shakespeare-steeped literary retreat.”
Community Development/ Public Works
Over the past couple of months, Community Development and Public Works have been assisting United Way of Jackson County in coordinating the location of a new bike share opportunity. You have perhaps already read about the Zagster bike-sharing program. The Ashland location under the Lithia Way overpass began operating in late July.
The Zagster bike share is open to anyone age 18 and over, but focused on those in need of transportation to work, school or social services. Participants in the program need to create an account and sign up for a one-year membership for $20.
Public Works Department
On Thursday of this week the Water Division installed a new water service on Van Ness Ave. This is a common task for City crews and something you may see from time to time on the streets of Ashland. A water service is basically the pipe that connects the large water pipes in the streets to the smaller pipes in homes and businesses. Every property in town that’s connected to City water has its own water service. The City began providing water in the late 1800s to just a few locations and now provides nearly 10,000 water services throughout the City.
Water services come in a variety of sizes, depending on the anticipated use. A small house, for example, may only need a ¾” diameter water service to supply enough water for all the fixtures in the building while a hotel or apartment complex may require an 8” diameter (or even larger) service. The size is determined as part of the building design process and is decided by many factors including plumbing code, whether or not the building will be equipped with fire sprinklers and general fire code.
When water service is installed, the first step is to determine where the nearest water main is located and the most appropriate location for the water meter. Water crew members will mark the location and call for locates. Locates are paint markings on the surface of the area showing where all the underground utilities in that area are located. All companies with underground utilities, such as gas, electric or cable lines, are required to locate their facilities when requested. After the locates have been completed (this can take up to four days) the crew will remove the road surface to access the water main. They then dig down to the water main being very careful not damage the water pipe or any other located utilities along the way.
Once the pipe has been exposed, the pipe is ‘tapped.’ On smaller services, like the residential service connected on Thursday, a tapping machine is used to make the connection between the new service and the existing water main. This machine is attached to the water pipe and cuts a hole in the pipe and installs a valve. This valve is turned off when installed, so when the tapping machine is removed, a closed valve is connected to the pressurized water main. This new valve is now the connecting point for the new water service. By using the tapping process, a new water service can be installed without the need to shut down water service to all the nearby locations.
From the newly installed valve a new pipe is connected and placed in a trench to the location of the water meter. This new line is connected to the water meter and a meter box is placed around the meter to protect the meter from damage. Once the meter is connected, and the trench is re-filled, a plumber can make the final connections from the water meter to the building. The Water Division is responsible for maintaining the water service up to and including the water meter, but anything beyond the water meter is the responsibility of the property owner.
Ashland Fire & Rescue
Ashland Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) staff recently met with the administration for the Siskiyou School in order to assist the school in developing a consistent, streamlined and thorough emergency preparedness plan. The school has been utilizing a generic form, but will now make necessary updates and exercise the plan. The school also plans to send at least two representatives to CERT’s fall basic training and additionally is considering offering all staff a training session in the upcoming school year during an in-service day. The fall CERT training will take place in October. To register contact Ashland CERT at 541-552-2226, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Staff from Ashland Fire & Rescue is part of a task force assigned to the Canyon Creek Complex fire near John Day. The Canyon Creek Complex is currently estimated at 48,201 acres. It is the number one priority nationally for resources, with some 649 personnel assigned to this incident. Yesterday, firefighters set hose lines in the northeast corner of the fire as a contingency should winds shift and again push the fire towards homes located there.
Today, firefighters are concentrating limiting the fire's expansion and protecting houses and private lands. Recent weather patterns are expected to continue with afternoon winds generating increased fire activity.
Below is a photo which includes two of the AF&R staff members currently working on the Canyon Creek Complex. Firefighter/ Paramedic Ron Garfas-Knowles (third from the left) and Captain/Paramedic Todd Stubbs (fourth from the left).
Thank you to all the firefighters currently fighting the numerous fires in the Pacific Northwest!
Parks & Recreation
Here are some highlights of recent or upcoming Parks and Recreation Department activities: