New Mayor, City Council take oath of office

Certificates of appreciation, bike and trail paths, and a Councilor At Large vacancy also highlight last Monday’s City Council meeting.

January 12 - The City of Cottage Grove has a new mayor, Candace Solesbee, City Councilor for Ward 3 since 2018 and owner and founder of Shampoo Dolls on Main Street was sworn in after a special flag salute and pledge of allegiance, put on by the American Legion with past mayors Jeff Gowing and Thomas Munroe in attendance.

It was standing room only at the City Council meeting as Mayor Solesbee began with a State of the City address in which she also thanked the Council, the citizens, and her family, and asked for grace during her transition from Council to Mayor. She becomes the second woman elected as Mayor of Cottage Grove since Jean Sinclair Edwards, who served between 1993-96.

Also sworn in to another four year term on the Council were Mike Fleck, who is the Executive Director of Community Sharing Program, Chalice Savage who was recently appointed as a Director for District 4 at the League of Oregon Cities, and school teacher and community leader, Dana Merryday.

Mayoral Certificate of Appreciation

Mayor Solesbee presented two Certificates of Appreciation at the beginning of the meeting to small business owners Peter Dumbleton and Michele Rose of The Crafty Mercantile at 517 E Main Street. Dumbleton is the Curator of Opal Theatre while Rose serves as the Executive Director.

They are both heavily involved with the Trashion Show, an upcycle and recycle fashion show at Opal Center, which will return in April, and is celebrated in part with Earth Day. Opal Center also hosts K-12 Summer art camps, which is an inspirational outlet for kids of all abilities and ages.

Michele Rose is also a Board member for Downtown Cottage Grove and the Artwalk Coordinator. And you will often see Peter out blowing the leaves off sidewalks in his free time, working as a handyman. In recognition and appreciation for countless volunteer hours, Mayor Solesbee thanked Rose and Dumbleton for furthering the cultural arts, beautification to Main Street, and dedication to the community.

The award was also presented to KNND radio owner and on-air personality, Cameron Reiten. Reiten has hosted and enhanced many community events over the years including the Rock, Roll and Rumble classic car show, Concerts in the Park, Bohemia Mining Days and keeping the citizens informed with The Beeper Show.

The weekday community call-in talk program allows listeners to absorb what is going on in their community, region, and the state with guests ranging from State representatives, politicians, County Commissioners, local Police and Fire Chief's, Mayors, Councilors and the City Manager. School board officials and sports directors, along with a variety of other community members are often featured on the show.

Reiten also heads up the legislative committee for the Chamber of Commerce to assist in Legislative and Judicial changes to keep the public informed. In recognition and appreciation for Reiten’s support of the community through knowledge, education, entertainment, and countless volunteer hours, Solesbee presented him with the Mayoral Certificate of Appreciation.

Lincoln Middle School Bike Path

The first item on the consent agenda was a recommendation by the City of Cottage Grove’s Public Works & Development Director Faye Stewart for the City Council to adopt a resolution that would support the Lincoln Middle School Path grant application to Oregon Department of Transportation's (ODOT) Oregon to Community Paths Program.

In the drafted resolution, the grant program would fund construction of a new bicycle/walking path through the city’s center, connecting East Hayes Avenue with Bohemia Park, creating a safe and accessible off-street biking and walking transportation corridor parallel to Highway 99. The cost would include a $3000 application preparation fee to Lane Council of Governments (LCOG).

ODOT informed the staff in Oct. 2022 that a pre-application had been approved and the city was now authorized to submit an official State construction application by January 31, 2023. After the City Recorder, Mindy Roberts called the roll, with all councilors in attendance, the resolution passed unanimously.

Election of City Council President, Planning Commission Appointment

Annually, the City Council must elect a Council President at its first meeting. The Council President's duty is to preside in the absence of the Mayor and act as Mayor when the Mayor is unable to perform their duties. It was noted by City Manager Richard Meyers that Councilor Fleck has served as the Council President for the last two years.

Councilor Roberts opened discussion by thanking and nominating Councilor Greg Ervin. Councilor Fleck nominated and recommended Councilor Chalice Savage. Mayor Solesbee seconded a nomination for Councilor Ervin, there was no further discussion and after the recorder called the roll, all Councilors voted in favor of his election.

Council reviewed three applications for two positions in the Planning Commission. Councilors Roberts chaired a subcommittee with Councilor Ervin to interview candidates; Stephen Thoemmes, Jeff Gowing, and Tom Munroe applied. Gowing and Munroe, both former Cottage Grove mayors, were appointed after a unanimous vote by the council, though, Councilor Fleck encouraged all citizens interested in positions with the City government to “stay with it”.

Councilor At Large Position Seeks Applicants

Councilor Kenneth Micheal Roberts announced his resignation at the previous meeting in Dec. 2022, stepping down at the end of this meeting. His departure from the Council will immediately necessitate the solicitation of applicants for the position. Section 32 of the City Charter states that “appointees must be a resident of the same ward as the predecessors, unless the predecessor was a Councilor At Large.”

Although City Manager Meyers joked that you could take someone off the street and appoint them now, if they lived in the city, discussion opened to determine the approach to take by Council to fill the vacancy. Councilor Savage moved for applications and seconded by Councilor Fleck but amended to first allow a two-week application solicitation process and a goal for application review, and the motion passed unanimously to first advertise the position. 

Council Renews Municipal Court Judge Fisher’s Contract

In another unanimous vote this evening, the contract for Martin Fisher, Municipal Court Judge has been renewed and extended. Councilor Ervin stated that he is happy with the Judge's performance. Councilor Roberts agreed stating Fisher has been “very informative over the years”. Councilor Savage also noted the tones of kindness and compassion in Judge Fisher's communication.

Row River Nature Park Resurfacing Trail

Public Works Director Faye Stewart gave some background on a pre-application submitted to ODOT by the City working with LCOG to resurface the North Regional Park Trail to meet ADA standards and an additional refinement grant for the East Regional trail located in Row River Nature Park, which also needs resurfacing and National Environmental Policy Act work that the city believes is necessary.

Costs include a grant application preparation fee to LCOG for $6000, and if ODOT approves the application a 30% match will be proposed in the City’s 2023-24 Bicycle Footpath Fund. Councilor Fleck moved to approve, with a second from Councilor Ervin who expressed excitement over the project. After Mayor Solesbee called for a vote, all were in favor, so the grant support letters.

Used Water Reclamation Facility Generator Purchase Approved

Public Works Director Faye Stewart sought approval from Council for the purchase of a used Caterpillar 800 kW backup generator for the Water Reclamation Facility (WRF), whose similar model generator failed on Nov. 4, 2022. The unit was having its annual load test when its engine seized.

The city is currently renting the use of a working backup generator at a cost of $17,833 per month. And two recent power failures since Nov. 4, have required the leased generator to provide power to the WRF, according to Stewart. The city’s generator was taken to Glenwood for assessment, the rebuilding is estimated at $142, 962, with an unknown timeline to source parts and to complete a rebuild of the generator.

Staff also researched new units which start at $340,000 and up, based on brand and model. Delivery from the manufacturers in Georgia, for a new Caterpillar 800 kW generator was estimated at least 70 weeks after ordering it, and Stewart says, likely longer. The city sees the need of a generator as “dire” for a critical public work system facility. 

City staff have arrived at purchasing a used 800 kW Caterpillar generator in Colorado, a 2002 model with 1347 hours on the unit, offered at $175,000 and available for purchase and shipping as of press time. Stewart recommends that the City Council authorize the City Manager to sign the necessary agreements and documents to make the purchase, plus an estimated $7500 for shipping and $18,000 to install, pending legal counsel review and approval.

Councilor Fleck moved to approve the proposal for the expenditure, pending a successful review. Councilor Ervin suggested that the city should purchase the used unit then, repair the failed unit to have a back up, rent out to another municipality or resell at a later date. With no further discussion, all Councilors voted in favor of the purchase price, shipping, and installation costs for a backup generator for the WRF paid by the Wastewater Reserve Fund.