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Greetings! As we prepare for the winter season, we should be ever thankful that although it may be easy to complain about the weather and snow and cold that comes with winter, we don’t have hurricanes and the terrible issues those people are going through with the loss of their homes and services.
I would like to welcome and introduce three new employees to our staff: Wendy Acton, Cindy Larsen-Stevens and Ben Hitt. Cindy is a part-time dispatcher in the police department and has experience as a dispatcher with Rosebud County. Wendy is a long time resident of Colstrip and joins us as a Deputy City Clerk. Ben is brand new to Colstrip and joins our Police Department as a Police Officer. Welcome Wendy, Cindy & Ben!
It has been a very busy summer for our city and it’s employees. We have successfully completed our employee/ labor negotiations and now have four-year contracts in place. Although we have been very productive in many areas, two of our major projects have not yet been completed. They are our Wastewater Treatment Rehabilitation Project and the Zone 3 Water Storage Tank Project. The Wastewater Treatment Rehabilitation Project is about 90 percent complete but due to contractor issues, the City is in the process of changing contractors. We plan on having this project completed by year end. This is $2.2 million project that was partially funded by the Montana Coal Board with a $500,000 grant.
The Zone 3 Water Storage Tank Replacement project has been delayed because of land and property ownership issues. What started out as a relatively simple process of the city receiving an easement onto an area within the Winchester Park boundaries became very complicated and time consuming with differing opinions on an easement and use of the property to place a 450,000 gallon water storage tank. It became necessary for us to seek an outside legal opinion to support the City Attorney’s opinion and to also seek the involvement of the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. The construction of this tank is now scheduled to begin in the Spring of 2019, a delay of almost two years after our first meeting with the Rosebud County Commissioners. This is a $2.3 million project. Upon its completion the residents in the Zone 3 area will see an increase in their water pressure, similar to what some other residents have seen when we combined Zones 1 and 2 east of the highway.
We have completed the budgeting process for fiscal year 2018-2019 and are looking forward to several major street projects that includes Power Road, Main Street and Homestead Boulevard. Estimated costs for these projects is $2.7 million. We will also be doing chip sealing on Pine Butte Drive and Sweetgrass Drive. Also included in the budget is the replacement of High Service Pumps at the Water Treatment Plant. This will improve service and reliability as the current pumps were originally installed almost 40 years ago. The budgeted capital costs for streets, water and sewer totals $6.7 million.
The Colstrip Community Impact Advisory Group (CCIAG) continues to move forward with many ideas on the utilization of the $10 million Puget Sound Energy Settlement Funds. The direction as of this writing appears to be headed towards the establishment of a Colstrip Community Foundation. The foundation would establish a board that would set up rules on the administration of the funds. The details remain to be worked out.
A settlement between the City of Colstrip, Avista Corporation and Hydro One remains on hold awaiting approval by Commissions in the states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho. That determination is scheduled to occur on or before December 15, 2018.
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I’ll begin this newsletter article with a note of appreciation to two employees that are leaving their service with the City. Monty McNearney has most recently been our School Resource Officer which has been very successful. In addition to this service, Monty is an excellent Police Officer and very proactive in his short 3 year tenure with our City. Paula Peplow will be retiring from the City after nearly nineteen years of service. One of our first employees and a tremendous resource, upbeat, positive and with a very pleasant greeting and attitude—we will miss you “kiddo”.
The Colstrip Community Impact Advisory Group has met four times, many ideas/issues have been proposed and discussed. We are in Stage 1 of the process in reviewing and receiving background information. This is the process of gaining an understanding of Colstrip’s potential and the challenges we have before us. These meetings are held monthly at City Hall. I encourage our residents involvement and participation.
Another very important process that is swiftly coming to a conclusion is the City’s role as a intervenor in the Avista/Hydro Ones application of the proposed sale before the Montana Public Service Commission. Avista is 15% owner of Units 3 & 4. As the result of a settlement already reached with parties in the Washington and Idaho Utility Commissions related to this sale and the opportunity as an intervenor we began discussions with Avista. The results of that discussion and upon approval of the Montana Public Service Commission the City will receive $4.5 million in community funding to assist the community in meeting its immediate and future needs.
This process will provide public involvement by Colstrip residents and other interested parties, including affected employees but the City will determine how best to utilize the $4.5 million of funding. The City will be conducting a public hearing process to assure that funds are spent as and when needed. I am very excited about the conclusion of these negotiations and look forward to our residents involvement and participation as we move our City into the future.
The Avista people were very good to work with and demonstrated a sincere appreciation to the residents within our community.
I think it is important to point out, this transaction dealt with a change of ownership of Avista’s 15% share of Units 3 & 4 to Hydro One. Nothing in this ownership change affected the continuous operation or shutting down of the Units.
This was a great opportunity for our City and we actively participated in a successful conclusion for all parties.
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This is a reminder to all residents of the City of Colstrip. Please keep these things in mind as winter is here and snow is upon us! Depositing snow in the middle of the street is against Ordinance 00-16. Storing trailers, or any other type of vehicles on public streets is prohibited and is against Ordinance 03-08.
It is determined that for the safety and wellbeing of the general public who use the City streets and right-a-ways of the City of Colstrip, the City will keep the streets and right-a-ways free and clear of unnecessary obstructions.
Prohibited Conduct: It shall be unlawful for any person to remove, place, and deposit snow and/or ice accumulation from their driveways, walkways, or private roadways and place or deposit such snow and/or ice deposits onto the streets or right-of-ways.
City Ordinance No. 03-08 prohibits the storage of trailers or other vehicles on public streets. The ordinance states in part, that no person shall park any vehicle or motor vehicle upon any public street for the principal purpose of storing it when not in actual use or transit. The storage of vehicles on public streets congests traffic as well as making it difficult and unsafe for snow plowing, garbage collection, and street cleaning.
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The City of Colstrip is seeking applicants to fill the position of Deputy City Clerk.
Full-time position with excellent benefits including health insurance,
medical flexible spending account, retirement plan, paid holidays, vacation and sick leave.
Application Forms and Job Description available at Colstrip City Hall,
12 Cherry Street, Colstrip, MT or can also be obtained at www.cityofcolstrip.com.
First Review of applications will be May 21st. Application period open until position filled.
The City of Colstrip is an Equal Opportunity Employer