September 4, 2015

Public Works 
As part of the “Safe Routes to School” project on Walker Avenue, the CORP will make improvements to the rail crossing on Walker that will require shutting down the street and re-routing traffic on September 11, 12 and 13. The work will be done at night to minimize traffic disruption. Residents on Walker will be notified via direct mail and additional publicity will be generated next week. CORP is scheduled to make improvements to the rail crossing on Oak Street the following weekend (Sept. 18-20). Again, the work will be done at night but it will require shutting down the street completely on either side of the tracks during work hours.  Residents and businesses on Oak Street will be notified via direct mail. Once the Oak Street crossing is improved, KOGAP will move in to build the sidewalks under the contract approved by the Council last Tuesday.   
Last week the Water Division of the Public Works Department stopped pumping Talent Irrigation District (TID) water to the water treatment plant. As most people are aware, the current drought conditions have forced everyone to be extremely cautious with our water supply. This summer, just like last summer, the City supplemented the water in Reeder reservoir with water from the TID system.

On August 15th Water Division staff began the yearly testing period of the Talent-Ashland-Phoenix (TAP) system. This system is tested annually to verify it’s in good working order and rather than test the system at a time of year when the water isn’t needed, the testing period takes place in August, providing the added bonus of additional water supply. In addition, with the recent cooler weather, City-wide water use has declined and averaged 3.7 million gallons per day over the past week. The combination of TID, TAP and continued flow from the East and West Forks has allowed the Water Division to re-fill the reservoir to capacity.    
The testing period for the TAP system is just about over. Once that has ended, only the water in Reeder Reservoir will be left for use until the rainy weather returns. The good news is that with a full reservoir and because Ashland has done a great job reducing water use, if wet weather returns as it normally does in October, there should be a more than adequate water supply.

Police Department
This week the officers had three encounters with armed suspects. In all three incidents the officers did a professional, calm job of taking the suspects into custody without resorting to lethal force. In one instance, two men, both armed with handguns and rifles, were confronted by a single officer and taken into custody after initially showing signs of non-compliance. In the next incident, officers responded to a man menacing people with a gun in the downtown area. The man initially refused to drop the gun when contacted, but eventually complied and was arrested. In the third incident, officers assisted a Jackson County Sheriff’s Office deputy in locating and contacting two suspects in a burglary/theft of firearms case. The suspects were located in an Ashland hotel and arrested with minimal complications. At least some of the stolen firearms were found in the room. This is an unusually high number of gun-related incidents for a town like Ashland. It is a good reminder that our city is not excluded from the potential for violence.

Last Friday the APD started its Emergency Vehicle Operations Course refresher training. Part of this training involves the use of a skid car (pictured below). This is a car that uses hydraulically controlled additional wheels to lift the vehicle up and cause the vehicle to lose traction and therefore control. This simulates losing control in extreme weather, or in extreme driving conditions, such as pursuits.

Electric Department
The hydraulic system of the Electric Department hydro-generation unit located below Reeder Reservoir will soon be retrofitted with refurbished and new components. The components will support an environmentally friendly/food grade hydraulic oil. In order to use an environmentally friendly/food grade hydraulic oil, a thorough cleaning and possible replacement of the existing hydraulic components is required. The generator was idled in late December, 2014, when a very small amount of oil was detected in the effluent from the generator. A quick response by the Water Treatment Plant operators and Electric Department staff prevented a larger leak and any entry of the oil into the City’s water supply. In early January, the Electric Department engaged an outside engineering firm to provide expert analysis of the issue. The engineering firm also evaluated alternative solutions and developed an appropriate scope for an RFP to solve the issue. Confounding a solution is the age (thirty years) and location/status of the manufacturer of the equipment (Sorumsand Verksted A/S, a Norwegian company that’s out of business). Fortunately, the Electric Department has received a strong initial response to the RFP. On August, 18, a required onsite walk through drew representatives from six companies. The RFP provides for the cleaning/replacing/repairing of the Reeder hydro generator hydraulic system as well as the use of the food grade hydraulic oil. The Department is looking forward to receiving the responses to the RFP on Thursday, September 17. Repairs will begin as soon as a suitable company is identified.

Work has started to upgrade the wire capacity and replace aging poles at the intersection of Siskiyou Blvd. and Ashland Street. The new and upgraded line ensures Southern Oregon University and the surrounding area will have the necessary capacity to meet their electric energy needs as well as increase the reliability of their service. The project is expected to take 6-8 weeks. Please watch for flaggers and traffic control while the crews are working near and in the road.
Excessive heat in an electric system is typically a sign of an issue (possibly an outage) waiting to happen. With the recent purchase of a Flir thermal imaging camera, staff is now equiped to quickly and more accurately monitor and identify potential problems. The Flir thermal imaging camera has already proven its value. The images below were captured with a single push of a button. The thermal image (left) shows a point that is getting hot, most likely due to a loose connection. The image at right is just a standard digital photo of the same point, with no evidence of excessive heat. The ability to locate these issues and make repairs before they become a problem will help to make the system even more reliable. The pictured device (located in the Mountain Ave Substation) will be repaired during a planned substation outage in October.

The Oregon Public Utility Commission requires the Department to test ten percent of our total system wooden poles every year (one-hundred percent in ten years). Any issues found require appropriate repair or replacement. Due to the special knowledge, tools, and remediation techniques required for this inspection, the Electric Department contracts with Osmose, Inc. to test and perform specific inspections. Osmose recently completed the annual pole testing.  Happily, of the nearly 300 poles tested only a handful were in need of minor maintenance and none were in need of replacement.

Parks Department
After months of planning, North Mountain Park Nature Center is launching another great season of school program field trips. Registration for these programs just opened on August 31, and on the first day of registration, the calendar of field trip slots was more than half full.  Every spring and fall, K-5 classes can visit the park for an exciting series of outdoor activities.  Seasonal outdoor programs cultivate an appreciation for our region through hands-on, standards-based lessons. Through science inquiry, AP&R is helping teachers meet the goals of Oregon’s Environmental Literacy Plan and the No Child Left Inside Act. This season, the focus is on “Plants of the Rogue Valley”. Elementary school teachers can visit www.RegisterMyClass.org to sign their classes up for a fall field trip soon!

Fire Department
Twenty-three CERT and community volunteers joined together Sunday, August 30, at Station No. 1 to assemble more than 400 disaster supplies kits for the upcoming Ashland Is Ready event. CERT additionally organized eight members Friday, August 28, to assemble over 400 informational packets that each AIR participant will receive. Volunteers pre-assembled kits and packets as part of their mission to "Assist the Community in Enduring Disasters." The Ashland Is Ready event will take place on September 12, at Southern Oregon University Stevenson Union.
The popular Map Your Neighborhood program continues to grow. CERT recently spoke at Woman’s Group meeting and has six potential neighborhoods interested in organizing a Map Your Neighborhood event in the upcoming months.

Board/Commission/Committee Updates
Climate and Energy Action Plan ad hoc Committee
The inaugural meeting of the newly formed Climate and Energy Action Plan ad-hoc Committee was held on September 2nd. In addition to the first-meeting-musts of review of the committee charge and getting a regular meeting schedule established, the committee has two early goals. The first is to assist in the planning of the kick-off event Council gave Geos Institute and Rogue Valley Climate grant funds to run. This event is scheduled to occur on November 15th, and will include activities in the weeks leading up to that date. Second, the group is assisting in preparation of an RFP for a consultant to lead the process of creating the Action Plan to meet Council’s January 2017 deadline. The committee’s next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, September 8th.
On the subject of climate change, here is an opinion piece that ran in the Oregonian this week from Angus Duncan, executive director of the Bonneville Environmental Foundation and somewhat legendary figure in Oregon on all things climate. I think it is a good reminder that we are fortunate to be a part of a state that is a national leader in most, if not all, major climate action issues and are positioned very well compared to other states in terms of managing (and hopefully thriving) in the face of national policy changes on climate action.
Historic Commission
The Historic Commission at its meeting this week reviewed the plans for the plaza enhancement project. The Commission recommended using substantial plantings instead of fencing. The Commission recommends five-gallon plants, closely spaced together to create a natural foliage barrier. The Commission also recommended adding an anchor evergreen plant in each of the new pot for winter interest.

Previous Updates

August 28, 2015

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