Raymond City Council answers to lack of notification

By Scot Pearson

A few members of the public were on hand to provide the council their input during the open comment period scheduled on the agenda.

As per protocol, the meeting was started with the passing of previous minutes, the current agenda and the payment of claims and payroll totaling just over $261,000.

First up during Public Comment, Phoenix Signs representative Steve Hampton spoke about the possibility of placing additional road signage for the Pitchwood Ale House along both directions of Hwy 101 and incoming on Route 6. He came with a sample of the sign. As a point of order, Raymond City Councilman Kaley Hanson recused himself from any conversation that may take place from council on comments from Hampton.

Hampton advised the council that he had read the current city sign code and felt that the placement of the signs was covered under the description of allowing off-road signs to be placed to assist travelers into a business area. Further explaining that the location is actually two businesses. Hampton was asking the council to give their interpretation of the code in order to do what was required to place the additional signage.

The council did raise a few questions, mostly among themselves, and comparing to what had been allowed in the past dealing with signage. It was determined that several locations in the city may not be following the code to the letter, and that they should look at code to make a better determination or make adjustments to allow what is currently in place.

The council made the final determination that the topic should be set before the City Planning Commission.

Resident Tori Kovach was on hand to find out about what could be done about conditions on Valentine Street that need to be cleaned up. Raymond Police Chief Chuck Spoor spoke with Kovach directly to find out what he had done up to this point, and discussed how the current process works. Chief Spoor did advise that issues like this are complaint driven and that the matter would be looked into. The council further commented that the place in question has had a history of complaints.

Citizen Michelle Layman stood up quickly to advise of an upcoming Kayak Days at the new Raymond Kayak Dock under construction. She requested the use of the Raymond Dock/Amphitheater area for the event day and if it could possibly be cleaned prior to the event on May 30.

The Raymond Lions Club took their turn and advised that the Lions Recycling Trailer currently located out at Taylor Park would have to be moved, due to the Port leasing out the current location and was requesting that it be located at the 101 Quickstop.

The council approved the placement with the reservation that if it had to be relocated once again, based on authorization that the Lions would take care of it. The site is scheduled to be moved prior to March 1.

Resident Diane Farrell advised the council that she would reserve comment until Department Heads had made their reports as her topic had to deal with the recent Boil Water Advisory, and believed that it would be addressed by Public Works Director M. Dean Parsons during his time.

With that the council closed the public portion of the meeting and moved to Department Head Reports where Director Parson addressed the recent advisory.

In his report, Director Parsons spoke of particular limits allowed in the cities drinking water and how the Department of Health directs the actions of the Public Works in putting out such advisories. Parsons further advised the council of mechanical problems that brought on the flushing of the 3 million gallon water reservoir, the assistance from the city of South Bend to aid in the flushing of the City of Raymond water system and how the sampling provided a good test after all was said and done.

Citizen Farrell thanked the director for his full detailed report of the incident but still had concerns with the way, or lack of notification, that was provided to the city.

She further helped to identify that the current Emergency Management Notification system had a software upgrade several years ago and that residents need to re-establish their contact information on the Pacific County Emergency Management website to ensure that they are receiving notifications in the future. It was further explained that the process was different for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone systems as opposed to cellular phone systems or traditional land-line service.

The council had a round discussion on how they were identified and discovered that for many in the room, they had not recently updated their information with Emergency Management as a few found out about the initial notification via social media.

Several ideas to increase the notification system to include reminders on city billing information to help those who may not have immediate access to the Internet.

"I understand that this may have been a minor incident in the scheme of things, but we need to address this issue of notification for the community," said Farrell.

According to city, research on the notification during the initial phases of the Boil Water Advisory, it was identified that at least 1,400 residents did receive messages about the advisory.

It was also suggested that the city look into updating their website to serve the community better, as it was felt that people who do use the page on a daily basis had to hunt for the "Advisory" and items of this nature should be posted upfront on the City Homepage.

It was agreed the problem needed to be looked into. And the council thanked resident Farrell for bringing them the information along with suggestions.

The next Raymond City Council meeting is scheduled for March 2 at 6 pm at city hall.