Blogs Mayor's Updates
 
 

The State of the City in my first 6 months.

Posted on Monday June 29, 2020

Good day Colville!

  I have to start by saying that I was counting on my first 6 months in office to be a time of learning, settling in and getting to know staff and Council. The reality of that time span however has been quite different. While I have gotten to know these folks, the learning curve has been a bit like the old saying of "drinking from a fire hose". I do feel fortunate to have the staff and Council I have as they have been patient and tolerant with "the new Mayor" and my lack of mayoral experience. 
   It's long been my intent to share some information with City residents on this page, but finding the time and having accurate information to report are key and so what follows is an update, some of which you may already know.
    
   The rebuild and overlay of the Railroad Avenue/Truck Bypass is complete. It was finished ahead of schedule and under budget.These were accomplished by proper City staff project management and a local contractor that worked with the City towards efficiencies in construction and cost. I'm grateful for both these groups and look forward to using a much smoother street that will last us for a long time.
   The construction project at the intersection of Main & Astor streets has been approved by City Council and will likely begin sometime near August 1, 2020 give or take a few days. The contractor and the City have been engaged in only preliminary discussion thus far and those start dates will be solidified in the next week or so.There will be disruptions to the downtown businesses in that construction location and these are unavoidable given the scope of this project. However, we have a contractor that is mindful of our desires to keep the disruptions to a minimum and that pedestrian ability to move through that area before and after construction hours will need to be maintained. The project duration is expected to be approximately 40 days, meaning that it should wrap up in early September.

   I want to openly discuss a couple of matters that are frequently in the news these days, those being police reform and the protests that we are seeing about law enforcement, even here. 
   The City of Colville Police Department employs a Chief, a Sergeant, an Animal Control Officer, an Administrative Assistant and 8 Patrol Officers when fully staffed. The policies and directives that dictate the operational environment in which these individuals perform their duties are completely in compliance with State mandated training in such areas as the Use of Force continuum, police vehicle pursuit, force deescalation and crisis intervention. Nothing has changed within the CPD as far as law and policy compliance, except as the laws change, the training changes and the Department strives always to remain in compliance.
As for what is occurring in the other, more populated areas of Washington State with the protests, let me be clear about my thoughts on it with you.
The right to protest peacefully is an appropriate right and one that can prompt real change under certain conditions. We have had a few local protests about various things and I applaud all those that have shown us that peaceful protest can occur without the senseless violence and destruction that has accompanied these protests in other places. I cannot speak for any other locale, but I'm grateful to live in a place with dignified and sensible folks that can disagree without resorting to a fight.
To tie these two thoughts together though, if violence occurs here in any form, your trained and professional CPD is ready to protect and defend. It's their job to be sure but as I personally know most of these officers, their personal integrity and dedication to their profession would allow them nothing other than to "serve and protect".

    I've also had questions about the trees around Colville, especially the ones that are cut off, dead or dying. The City Street and Parks Departments are working as time allows, to replace these dead/dying trees and are also working to replace the trees that were cut down on S. Wynne St. Those particular trees required removal because the wrong ones were planted there many years ago and they were growing up into Avista's high-voltage electrical lines. As the good neighbors they always are, Avista cut down the trees in question and also donated $150.00 per tree with which to replace these trees with a dwarf variety that will not become the problems that the others were. Thank you Avista! Also, the old trees did some pretty significant damage to the sidewalks on S. Wynne, so City staff will also be doing some concrete work in conjunction with tree replacement. Many volunteers have served on several occasions removing the decorative rocks in the tree planters and bulb-outs so that they can be replaced with mulch/bark, reducing the summer time heat that kills these trees. We are fortunate to have so many dedicated volunteers that consistently strive towards downtown beautification.

Lastly, I want to thank and congratulate long-time City Street Supervisor Jeff Long on his retirement! He will leave the City on June 30 after 28 years of dedicated service to us all. Best wishes going forward Jeff!

As always, I want to remind residents here in Colville that I work for YOU! Please contact me anytime, with any questions, comments or concerns and I will do my best to address them in a timely manner. 

Ralph Lane Jr, Mayor
mayor@colville.wa.us
509-684-5095


   

Pool Closure

Posted on Monday May 18, 2020

These are such trying times for all worldwide, including us here in Colville. The consequences from the COVID virus have had many different effects locally and one of these recently has been the decision by City Council to leave the City pool closed for this season.

First and foremost, I want to clarify that this determination by Council was not made by them alone. It was in concurrence with Department heads and Mayor and yet as they are the financial decision-making body for the City, this choice could only have been made by them. However, I fully support the Council in this tough choice because it was one borne out of financial responsibility and a hedging against financial outcomes in crisis that are not yet clear. I also want you to understand that in my short 5 months in office, I have seen your City Council wrestle with decisions that favor the residents here even when it may not have been entirely practical to do so. They do their very best to most often come down on the side of the citizens and in this case, I fully support them in a decision that they truly didn’t want to make. That said, what follows are the reasons that we chose to not open the pool facility for this summer.

In any given year, it takes roughly two months of preparation, cleaning, filling, balancing and heating the pool and its water for it to be ready for public use. It holds approximately 300,000 gallons of water and so it takes time to complete these tasks and in each season, the costs to open it are about the same. Also, this statement omits the time and cost of hiring staff and getting them trained as well. Once completed, the facility can usually operate at a semi-predictable cost per month unless there is an equipment failure or an unusually cold, wet summer. Most of you understand that our pool operates yearly at a financial loss and always has, but such is the nature of a seasonal facility that has operational and maintenance needs all year long. So in the end, it’s a matter of timing with regard to this facility. Do we choose to open it for just a few weeks when the cost to prep and open it is about the same as for three months of normal use? What if we choose to prepare it for opening only to remain in Phase 2 where we cannot legally open it to the public? Tough questions abound.

In this C-19/Phase 2 environment that we are currently find ourselves operating within, the unknowns of budgetary impacts have created hard decisions. As you know, many businesses have been closed, employment lay-offs are far above normal and these are important details to all of us in our financial planning. Your family may choose to not buy the new RV that you have been saving for and the City must consider all methods of cost reductions for the same reasons. The risks of what could come outweigh some of optional services that the City would normally provide. I deeply dislike this and so does Council, but neither of us has the power to change what is. City leadership does consistently recognize our responsibilities to you that live here in the forms of providing drinking water, maintenance of our streets and snow plowing, effective and compliant operation of our wastewater treatment facility, effective police and fire services and so on. To us, these are absolutes that we cannot allow to be financially compromised and to that end, the decision to close the pool was not made in a vacuum nor one that any of us desired.

Mayor Lane

Small Business Resources

Posted on Wednesday April 15, 2020

Resource

Website

Emergency Loans and Small Business Guidelines

https://colvilletogether.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/U.S.-Chamber-of-Commerce-COVID-19-PPP-Small-Business-Guide.pdf

Americas Small Business Development Center

https://wsbdc.org/

Employment Security Department (Unemployment)

https://esd.wa.gov/unemployment

Employment Security Department

(COVID-19 Information)

https://esd.wa.gov/newsroom/covid-19

Department of Revenue

(Business Relief during COVID-19) 

https://dor.wa.gov/about/business-relief-during-covid-19-pandemic

Rural Opportunities Loan Fund

Rural Opportunities Loan Fund 

Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grant

http://www.credc.org/wwsbeg 

Tri County Economic Development District

https://tricountyedd.com/covid-19-information-resources/ 

Governor Inslee

https://www.governor.wa.gov/issues/issues/covid-19-resources#Businesses 

Innovia

https://innovia.org/covid19/ 

Small Business Administration
Paycheck Protection Program
https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program

 
 

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