August 28, 2015
The Public Art Commission is developing a new program for artistically enhancing electric utility boxes. The existing program enlists artists to hand paint the boxes. The new program uses an image that is printed on vinyl and “wrapped” onto the box. It is the same technique used to “wrap” vehicles. For our first box in this program, Senior Planner and photographer extraordinaire Brandon Goldman created the image by digitally manipulating two of his photographs and then providing the files to the installer. The installer from The Sign Dude in Medford has been wrapping vehicles and other objects for more than ten years but this was his first utility box. Utility boxes with vinyl wraps are found in many communities around the country and in Yellowstone National Park. The wrap lasts five to ten years and because the vinyl has an ultraviolet protection coat, the colors do not fade. Here’s a photo of the utility box, located on Granite Street.
Energy conservation and renewable energy experts are closely following a Pacific Power filing at the Public Utilities Commission that would significantly impact solar and other renewable energy development in Pacific Power’s service territory, which includes everything outside of Ashland’s city limits. As you may recall from the recent discussion of the proposed solar farm on the Imperatrice property, Pacific Power is required to pay a fixed price for power generated by a qualifying facility with a capacity of up to 10 megawatts. Under the Pacific Power proposal, that cap would be lowered to 100 kilowatts. Click here for a brief article about this in the Portland Business Journal.
Meanwhile, the Ashland Chamber of Commerce has added its latest video – Ashland’s Solar Industry – to its Business Resource web site. The video features comments by several members of City staff.
Public Works Department
On Thursday of this week, members of the Public Works Department led a tour for several members of the Citizens Budget Committee. This tour included stops at the waste water treatment plant, the water treatment plant, Reeder reservoir and Hosler dam, and a potential future site for a new water treatment plant.
Public Works is responsible for the largest portion of the City budget and capital projects are the biggest single part of the Public Works budget. There are currently several projects scheduled to begin, so allowing the Budget Committee to see firsthand where and how the money will be spent gives them a better understanding of what is planned. This should help them make decisions regarding Public Works’ planned expenditures in the future.
One of the most expensive projects completed in Ashland over the past 20 years was the rebuild of the waste water treatment plant. Planning for the waste water treatment plant started nearly 20 years ago with construction and was completed about 15 years ago. The plant is still in very good condition but with ever increasing regulatory requirements, processes and facilities are due for upgrades. For example, a third oxidation ditch will be added at the treatment plant. This is a concrete pool where the incoming waste water enters the process and begins to be broken down in biological and chemical processes. The oxidation ditch holds over one million gallons of waste water and the third ditch will increase storage capacity to prevent overflows. This is a problem that’s occurred on a couple of occasions with especially heavy rains. Another planned project at the waste water plant is the relocation of the outfall. There’s still much planning to be done, but moving the outfall will benefit both Ashland Creek and Bear Creek and could help with lowering the temperature of our treatment plant effluent. (Temperature is one of the increasing regulatory requirements with which Ashland must comply).
The tour also highlighted the vulnerable location of the existing water treatment plant. It currently sits in the bottom of a steep canyon and is very susceptible to wild fires and floods. The plant has been damaged by floods three times is the past and came very close to sustaining damage during an especially heavy storm this past February. Public Works staff is currently working on plans to build a new treatment plant in a location not susceptible to flooding and where the danger of wildfire can be better managed.
These are just a few of the major projects planned in the upcoming years and the more informed every decision maker is about these projects, the better decisions they will be able to make.
APD received a great card (below) from an unknown citizen thanking us for what we do. This was not for anything in particular, but rather a generalized note of gratitude for the police in a time of much anti-police sentiment.
The note reads, "Ashland Police, With all the craziness that's going on in the country with the police I want you to know that I am grateful for all of you. You're a great team. I am praying for you. A thankful resident."
There were at least two activations of the bait bike this week. In one instance, a man took the bike and rode it toward the police station. When stopped he said he was turning it in as found property so we gave him the benefit of the doubt and took him at his word, not arresting him. The next day, officers found the same man on the bike. He reportedly told officers that he recognized the bike from the day before, and as the owner kept on leaving it out unlocked, the owner was irresponsible and must not really want the bike, so he decided to take it. He went to jail on that one.
Sergeant Theron Hull offered praise for Officer Jamie Broome in the Guardian Performance Tracking System for going in the extra mile in a fraud case. These cases are pervasive and very hard to work as the suspects are usually located in another part of the country, or another country altogether. Officer Broome was diligent in his investigation and was able to provide enough evidence in the case to allow federal and local authorities in Iowa take action against the suspect. Officer Broome’s perseverance led to the uncovering of a fraud ring that was operating on a national scale.
A couple of weeks ago a citizen donated a picture, taken here in Ashland, of a tree-dwelling bear. APD had the picture framed and it is now part of police station decor. A picture of the picture is below.