By Dena Martin
the Times 

Waitsburg City Council opens pool

Dogs and loans are among discussion topics


Lane Gwinn

The Waitsburg City Pool opened on Monday after a lack of lifeguard applicants threatened to keep the facility closed for the summer. The pool now has four guards (l to r): Kailyn Lewis, Kiley Curran, McKenzie Lewis-Seal, Lash LaRue (not shown).

WAITSBURG-Several residents commented on a range of topics at the regular June 19 Waitsburg City Council meeting. Under new business, the council opened the pool and discussed the Public Work Board loan program.

Public comment

Planning Commission chair Karen Gregutt provided a brief update on the comprehensive plan and development code updates which are currently under review by the state. Gregutt recognized Norm Bloom for his contribution to the process and said he has resigned his position. Gregutt said the Planning Commission is currently reviewing applications. Interested parties can apply at City Hall or download a General Position Application to City Council found on the website under the "Government" tab.

Gregutt thanked the city for efforts in replacing the streetlights around town, but said several people have expressed concern about glare and lack of privacy from the much brighter lighting. Gregutt will work with City Administrator Randy Hinchliffe to pinpoint problem spots and identify potential solutions, such as light shields to redirect the light.

Pam Chapman submitted an application to serve on the Planning Commission.

Court Ruppenthal asked about the process to address neighbors with livestock in city limits, whether a demolition permit is required for an old building on Preston Ave. and whether there had been any progress from Walla Walla County on transferring ownership of a strip of property between two of Ruppenthal's parcels.

Susan Tarver referenced a letter to the editor in The Times by Peggy Baker, which addressed an incident with an aggressive dog. Tarver asked about the process in dealing with a "significant dog problem" which includes 10-12 barking dogs within a one-block radius of her home. Hinchliffe said complainants should submit a written complaint to the City, with photo or audio evidence, if possible. He said the City typically sends a "gentle" letter notifying the owner (or property owner) of the problem. If the situation isn't resolved, an abatement letter follows, giving the animal owners 13 days to remedy the problem. If the situation isn't resolved, a fine of $100/day can kick in. There are several levels of appeal, beginning with the Planning Commission, if the animal owner disagrees with the citation.

Louie Gagnon thanked the City Crew for mowing in the Taggart Road area but noted there were still substantial weeds in the area between the fence and the ditch. Hinchliffe said the City Crew had been scheduled to do that last week but didn't show. He said it was scheduled for the coming week.

New Business

Public Works Trust Board loan program

Hinchliffe said that the state's Public Work Board loan program is funded and is accepting applications. The City has taken advantage of the program several times over the year and still has some active loans, he said. Hinchliffe asked for approval to submit applications for funds to address water and sewer line deficiencies.

"I want to make sure that there is sufficient support knowing that if we are selected for funding, that's going to require some kind of rate increase. The current structure can't support any more debt service than what we have," Hinchliffe said. "If I go back and ask for $500,000 that's going to mean an increase to water and sewer rates."

Council member Kuykendall said the City is in a good position to receive funding because of the direct appropriation of grant money from the state for water improvements on the east side of town. The appropriations aren't enough to complete the project but put the City in a good position to request the rest of the funds from the Public Works Trust Board.

"We're leveraging existing other state money," Kuykendall said. "Once the money we do have is spent we will have lost that chip to go back and get that loan from the Board. Though it's not a grant, we're talking about half-a-percent or three-quarters-of a percent interest," he said.

"We have a very good shot at securing some very, very cheap money," he added.

Mayor Marty Dunn pointed out that applying for the loan is one thing and accepting is another. The council agreed to proceed with the application and decide about possible rate increases if the application is accepted.

Pool Items

Hinchliffe said there were seven lifeguard applicants and four passed the certification class. He cautioned that, because there are only four guards, there would be times and days that the pool will not be open in the event that someone gets sick or goes on vacation. He said that scheduling work hours to meet state limit requirements for youth will also be "nip-and-tuck" during swim lessons. Hinchliffe said the City will post notices on the door and on the City website in the even that the pool is closed during scheduled open times.

"Mostly open is better than not at all," Kuykendall said.

The council unanimously approved Resolution 2019-693, establishing hourly wage rates for staff, swimming pool passes and rental rates and hours of operation for the 2019 pool season.

Beginning June 24, the pool will be open Mon., Wed., Fri from 1-5 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. and on Tues. and Thurs. from 1-5 p.m. The pool will be closed Sat. and Sun.

Daily entry is $2 with $30 for a single season pass and $60 for a family pass. Pass prices have been discounted due to the shortened season. Passes may be purchased at City Hall.

Swim lessons will be held Mon.-Thurs from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. for two weeks and will be limited to 10 swimmers per class due to limited staffing. Depending on demand, a second session may be added. The City intends to provide this service free of charge to Waitsburg youth through a local citizen-established endowment. Dates are yet to be determined.

The pool may be rented at $60/hour dependent upon staff availability. Rentals must be approved by City Hall in advance.

Council Reports

Mayor Dunn thanked Hinchliffe and Assistant City Clerk Kelly Steinhoff for handling recent City issues.

Kate Kuykendall informed the council of a Firewise meeting to be held June 25 and reported on the Switchgrass Delta bluegrass band trip to Ireland.

Kevin House reported on a successful Waitsburg Fair and thanked those that helped.

Terry Jacoy said he was still receiving negative comments about garbage service changes. Council agreed to give BDI time to "work out the kinks" before pursuing the issue.

City Clerk Report

Hinchliffe said he has started development of next year's budget, which he estimates will run approximately $2.8 million and will include some large projects and mechanical upgrades to City Hall and possibly, the City Shop.

The press at the Waste Treatment Plant is up and running and is estimate to cut processing approximately in half. The anerobic mixer at the plant died last week which was an unplanned $8,000 expense.

The county will be chip sealing streets throughout town.

Hinchliffe presented costs for new, stadium-style bleachers being installed at the Whitman County Fairgrounds in Colfax as a comparison for future fairgrounds upgrades.

State representatives Skyler Rude, Bill Jenkin and possibly Maureen Walsh plan to attend upcoming council meetings to provide legislative session updates.

The City is due to renew its franchise with Charter Communications.


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