Shady Cove to hold hearing Apr. 17 on open burning

Both the Shady Cove City Council study session and regular meeting on March 20 were an interesting mix that ranged from an outstanding audit report to a coin toss deciding the terms lengths of two newly appointed budget committee members.


The proposed ban on open-burning garnered good audience turnout and new
public comment from two residents. Doug VanGordon indignantly stated,
"We’ve studied this thing to death." He pointed out that Councilor Gary
Hughes provided information on open-burning over and over. And that
fire and police chiefs, teachers and 100 residents who signed a
petition also indicated a desire to end open-burning. "Let’s bring it
to a vote," VanGordon demanded. He told the council they were elected
for the majority of citizens of Shady Cove. He said it is a simple
decision, "Yes or no?"
   
Joanna Mathis who is in favor of
open-burning said, "If you outlaw burning, then the outlaws will burn."
She and her family live on 46 acres that could eventually be in a
buffer zone surrounding the city. She asked what the city would for
them. Other testimony from residents included two written letters.
   
Hughes
shared an E-mail from Daniel Hough of Jackson County Environmental
Health that said the county and DEQ basically prohibits all leaf
burning because leaves, especially wet leaves, produce dense smoke or
noxious odors.
   
Hughes said it was time for the council to
take a stand and vote on the issue. About 100 people burn in Shady
Cove, which Hughes said is less than four percent of the population. He
suggested the city should spend time on the 96 percent who breathe the
smoke.
   
Hughes provided rates from Southern Oregon
Sanitation. Homeowners can get a second garbage container at
$13-monthly with a weekly pickup. Or garden debris can be bagged,
although customers must first notify SOS and pay extra charges. In
either case, the debris is not recyclable yet and is dumped as regular
garbage. Two-yard containers that hold 13-14 garbage can loads are $97a
month. And dumpsters are $325 for a onetime dumping.
   
After
discussion on the pros and cons of open-burning, Mayor Ruth Keith
called for a public hearing. The councilors, except for Hughes, agreed
with Keith’s feelings about holding a hearing, Hughes objected to the
time two more meetings would take.
   
Because council
realized time is of the essence in the steps required to put a measure
on the ballot, a public hearing was quickly scheduled for April 17 at
6:30 p.m. When that hearing is closed, council will vote whether to
introduce and have a first reading of an ordinance that will be written
between now and April 17. If read, a second reading and the following
vote by council would decide the fate of that ordinance. But even if
the ordinance is struck down, it is unlikely the matter will fade away
because VanGordon vowed to put the issue on the ballot for the people
to decide.
   
Council appointed four residents to the budget
committee. In order of the votes received, they are Ron Holthusen and
Joan Reitz who received three-year terms;  Olin Shanrock with a
two-year term and Tyler Hulsey who got the one-year term. Because Reitz
and Shanrock received the same number of votes, council lightheartedly
tossed a coin to see which newly elected member would get the longer
term.
   
Officer Scott Waldon told a shocked council and
audience that 17,602 people in this country were killed by drunk
drivers in 2006. Waldon attended a recent DUI conference where he
learned that 39 percent of vehicle accidents are alcohol related. He
added that every two minutes someone is injured. Citizens can help by
calling 9-1-1 when they see a possibly intoxicated driver. Each year
alcohol related crashes cost the U.S. $51 Billion, said Waldon.
   
Shady
Cove received the highest level possible level for a municipality in
the 2006-2007audit, according to Stewart Parmele of the Michael L Piels
Accounting firm in Medford. He praised the limited city staff on a good
job getting the information together. Mayor Ruth Keith added her
appreciation of staff’s hard work.
   
Food and Friends
requested budgetary consideration from the city. In previous years,
Shady Cove gave $2,000 a year to the organization. City Administrator
Elise Smurzynski will arrange for a presentation.
     
An update
by Michael Cavallaro of Rogue Valley Council of Governments (RVCOG)
told council that RVCOG is in good financial health. The organization
helps the city with medicaid, senior meals, the services of City
Planner Dick Converse and Pat Foley who manages the city grant
processes, among other services.    
   
The city’s status
with FEMA will be updated at both the April 17 and June 5 council
sessions. The next city council study session and regular council
meeting will be April 3, 1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. respectively. Both
meeting are at city hall, 22541 Highway 62.
By Margaret Bradburn
Of the Independent

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