Council reorganizes, discusses 2014 activities
At their January 21 meeting, members of the Cathlamet Town Council began identifying topics they want to address in 2014.
One will be staffing levels for the Public Works Department.
Public Works Director Duncan Cruickshank reported department staff recently has had a hard time completing all tasks because of illnesses.
He added that the department operates seven days a week. Monday through Friday, staff are working around town and at the water and sewer plants, and on the weekends, they have a six hour day at the water and sewer plants.
Council members agreed to look into staffing levels and examine the budget to see what might be done.
Cruickshank also reported that staff are planning to replace old water meters in town with traditional meters and not more expensive meters that transmit readings to town staff. The traditional meters cost $60 while the radio meters cost $220, he said.
Staff will install radio meters in locations that are difficult to reach.
Librarian Carol Blix reported that the library should be open in its refurbished quarters in February. She's planning a soft opening sometime in the month and a formal grand opening the last Saturday in the month, February 22.
Shelves are being secured to the floor and filled with books, Blix said, and new books are being processed.
People are desperately missing library services, she said, adding that Wi-Fi service is still available around the library building.
Mayor Dale Jacobson said he wanted to switch council members' activities from a committee system to a system of "liaison/facilitators" for different areas of interest. These would be:
--Public Works, Dick Swart;
--Fire department and emergency services, Wally Wright;
--Legal and town facilities, Hannah Booth Watts;
--Finances and budget, David Goodroe;
--County issues, Andy Lea, and
--Planning commission and school district, Mayor Jacobson.
"I think the committee approach has worked with varying degrees of success over the past 13 years I've been involved with the town," Swart said. "And I think it depends largely on the interest and time commitment of the members. The structure itself is only as good as the pieces that are in it. Trying something new is kind of exciting."
Goodroe added that he would volunteer to work on a valuation of the town's timberlands. Swart and Jacobson said they are compiling information about timber for the planning commission.
In other business:
--Representing the Cathlamet Fire Department, Assistant Chief Beau Renfro reported the department ended 2013 with 405 ambulance calls and about 25 fire calls.
--Council members discussed progress on updating the town's water plan.
--If it were possible to harvest some timber, the mayor and council members had several ideas of how the money could be used. These included waterfront park development, purchasing a new engine for the fire department; bolstering reserve funds, and retiring or restructuring debts.